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A story within a story. In Australia's Northern Territory, a man tells us one of the stories of his people and his land. It's a story of an older man, Minygululu, who has three wives and ... See full summary »
Rolf de Heer,
"Twelve Canoes" is a series of short films that paint a compelling portrait of the people, history, culture and place of the Yolngu people whose homeland is the Arafura Swamp of north-central Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
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Jaco Van Dormael
Jo De Backer
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We all live on the same planet, under one sun which nurtures and renews our unique and common hopes for the future. No matter how much we differ from each other in color, ethnicity and ... See full summary »
Traces the pilgrimage of John Anderson, an average guy with a passion for jazz, from his home in outback Western Australia to the jazz clubs of Paris, to meet his idol, jazz trumpeter Billy... See full summary »
Blackfella Charlie is out of sorts. The intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of whitefella laws now. So Charlie takes off, to live the old way, but in so doing sets off a chain of events in his life that has him return to his community chastened, and somewhat the wiser.Written by
Cannes Film Festival
At the heart of Charlie's Country, the third collaboration between Dutch-Australian director Rolf de Heer and his co-writer and famed aboriginal star David Gulpipil is an engaging and compelling performance from the latter filmed on location in the Australia's Northern Territory. Gulpipil, with his weathered features and charismatic presence is forever watchable, especially in the first half of the film, which is mainly located around "his country" on the peripheries of a remote community. It is here where we find him at the film's outset experiencing a kind of indigenous "mature life crisis".
Charlie is becoming increasingly unhappy with his position in the community. Fed up by the demands and expectations created by the continual "humbugging"of himself by extended family and community members, he finds he gets short shrift from government employees, when seeking assistance (in the form of a house mind you). He also feels his personal liberties are being infringed upon by laws and regulations he doesn't fully understand and certainly hasn't consented to, imposed by the mainstream white culture, which also fails to give him due credit for the services he provides in the form of requested tracking tasks and hunting advice. He decides to leave the community and go and live traditionally in his country by himself, but naturally things don't necessarily turn out as planned.
Gulpipil has said the story he wrote with de Heer is semi-biographical, being based on his experiences living in and around the filming locations, which by the way, are wonderfully captured through the lens of cinematographer Ian Jones. That may be so, but as one who has actually lived and worked in these same communities for a good part of my life, I found the continual depiction of stereotypical racist and near-racist behaviour by the white supporting characters both tiresome, factually incorrect and very much an indictment of lazy writing on the part of de Heer and Gulpipil, especially considering the story is well and truly set in contemporary Australia.
de Heer has a long tradition of featuring racist bullying policeman in his indigenous-focused films and he carries on the tradition in Charlie's Country, where we see the local police in Charlie's community, as well as in Darwin, the capital city, barely hiding their contempt for those of indigenous background. However completely disregarded is that the police force these days has a significant aboriginal component itself, especially notable in remote communities. Ludicrously, we even have one of the cops from Charlie's remote community, played by Luke Ford, magically pop up in Darwin hundreds of kilometres away, so he can violently arrest Charlie and reinforce again these aggressive racial undertones.
Similarly the derogatory language and behaviours displayed unilaterally by the doctors, judges and public servants (apart from a solitary female social worker) put the lie to any cultural awareness programs continually adopted and implemented by members of those professions and by and large valued by Australian society.
This is a movie which whilst imparting an important tale worthy of attention, utilises absolutely no finesse in many characterisations. There are no greys, no degrees of ambivalence. Every thing is unfortunately just black and white, where the white is seen as overbearingly oppressive and both uncaring and damaging of the black culture. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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