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David Gulpilil (1953-2021) - Remembered

This Festival, we pay tribute to some of the film legends that we have lost over the last year. We include the Indigenous Australian artist and actor David Gulpilil; American director, actor and cinephile Peter Bogdanovich; Italian screen icon Monica Vitti; French New Wave star Jean Paul Belmondo; and two legendary music composers, Italy’s Ennio Morricone and Greece’s Vangelis. We hope our small tribute to each brings their important work to light for the uninitiated and reignites the flame of those who are already acquainted with them.

A General Introduction to David Gulpilil
by Dr Stephen Morgan

From the reinvigoration of feature filmmaking in the 1970s, to the flourishing of Indigenous work in the last decade, no individual has had as much impact on Australian cinema as Yolŋu actor and dancer David Gulpilil. His death, late last year at the age of 68, brought to an end a miraculous but tumultuous career, and a life dedicated to taking his culture to the world.

Over the years, Australia’s leading Indigenous performer lent his unmistakable nuance to the full gamut of Aboriginal types, from the mystical stranger in Nicolas Roeg’s ‘Walkabout’ (1971), to a variety of trackers, tricksters, and downtrodden elders. His long-standing collaboration with Dutch-Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer – from ‘The Tracker’ (2002) and ‘Ten Canoes’ (2005), to ‘Charlie’s Country’ (2015) – have transformed Indigenous representation and given him space to tell his own stories. From his stunning debut, right up to the recent documentary portrait ‘My Name is Gulpilil’ (2021), his is a truly captivating screen presence.

To celebrate David Gulpilil’s life and work, this year’s Chichester International Film Festival pays tribute with a short five film retrospective of his best films, some rarely shown, as well as an illustrated talk from Australian cinema expert Dr Stephen Morgan.