Charlie’s CountryLondon Film Festival 2014
Thursday 9th October, 9pm – BFI Southbank NFT1
Saturday 11th October, 3pm – Odeon West End
In spite of his positive outlook on life and modest desires, Charlie is getting frustrated. Lately it seems that wherever he turns, he runs into obstacles knowingly placed in his way by the white fellas that have set up home on his people’s land in what they call the Northern Territory; imposing their own laws and customs on the indigenous population.
Both director Rolf de Heer (The Tracker, Ten Canoes), and his leading man and co-writer David Gulpilil, have a proven pedigree for bringing tales of indigenous Australia to the big screen. Like no other actor one can bring to mind, Gulpilil has come to embody the cinematic portrayal of an entire culture (starring opposite Jenny Agutter in 1971’s Walkabout, he played what will have been the first indigenous Australian character encountered by many filmgoers). By keeping the focus solely on its star, Charlie’s Country manages to deftly blend a spell-bindingly personal hard-luck adventure story with a powerfully authentic fable on the harsh realities of cultural colonialism. It’s a performance as good as any other you’re likely to see this year (it’s already earned Gulpilil the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival).
Watching Charlie’s character develop from good-humoured acceptance of his lot in life, through a damascene reconnection with his ancestral heritage, and into the resulting exasperated downfall is enough in itself to keep the film motoring along in energetically absorbing fashion. That audiences are also offered a stunning visual love letter to the Australian bush, in all its epic lushness, elevates the work to the realms of something truly special.
At its best cinema should take you on a journey of discovery, and that is certainly the case here. The opportunity to visit a land so inspiring in its natural beauty and to have the injustices that continue to be wrought against its original custodians brought home with such vivid validity marks Charlie’s Country among the must-see films at this the London Film Festival this year.
Charlie’s Country is released in the UK on 9th October 2014.
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Watch the trailer for Charlie’s Country here: