Celebrating Gulpilil: New Writing – Where to Begin with David Gulpilil (for BFI website)

As part of efforts to ensure David Gulpilil’s life and work is celebrated in the UK, I have written a short feature article for the British Film Institute’s ‘Where to begin’ series, which aims to introduce audiences to a new star or filmmaker, and gives them tips on where to start, where to go next, and what to avoid.

As the BFI’s own blurb puts it:

One of the great presences in Australian film, David Gulpilil blazed a trail for Aboriginal representation on screen – from breakout hits Walkabout and Crocodile Dundee to more recent films that blasted away the stereotypes.

Where to begin with David Gulpilil might have some contentious choices, so feel free to let me know where you’d suggest people start, either in the comments below or via Twitter.

And, of course, don’t forget to keep an eye out for more celebrations of Gulpilil’s life and work, including a short retrospective (and my illustrated talk) at Chichester International Film Festival later this month.

Celebrating Gulpilil: Chichester International Film Festival

The recent death of Yolŋu actor and dancer David Gulpilil was an immeasurable loss for Australian and international cinema. From the revival of feature production in the 1970s, right up to the recent rise of Indigenous cinema, his was a constant yet mercurial presence, a man whose storytelling was unparalleled and whose face could light up any screen.

Although he’ll never be forgotten in Australia, it is great to see Gulpilil’s legacy being celebrated globally, from the many obituaries in international publications, to the roll-out of Molly Reynolds’ tender documentary portrait My Name is Gulpilil (which I recently reviewed for History Australia), through to Criterion’s current celebration of his work on their North American streaming service. Thankfully, plans are also afoot to celebrate his legacy here in the UK, starting with a mini-retrospective at this month’s Chichester International Film Festival.

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NEW PUBLICATION: Review of My Name is Gulpilil in History Australia

Production still from My Name is Gulpilil (Molly Reynolds, 2021)

The recent death of Yolŋu actor, dancer, and icon David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu brought great sadness, as well as a flurry of celebration, as the world paid tribute to one of Australia’s finest talents. Early in 2021, I made a video essay for the BAFTSS Conference highlighting his centrality to the ‘body politic’ of post-1970s Australian cinema, which also doubled as a tribute of sorts.

Following this, I was invited to review Molly Reynolds’ bold, moving documentary collaboration with the great man, My Name is Gulpilil, for the ‘Off the Page’ section of the History Australia journal. The review has been available as a pre-print for a little while, but I’m pleased to say it has now got a place in Volume 18, Issue 4 of the journal, and is freely available via Open Access.

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Menzies Screenings (2021/22)

The first of the 2021/22 Menzies Screenings is already under our belt – a timely, pre-COP26 screening of Nic Wrathall’s vital documentary Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley (2018) in October – and we have two more brilliant films coming up to round out 2021.

The 2021/22 Menzies Screening series comprises three screenings that once again speak to the Menzies Australia Institute’s ongoing theme of ‘Bearing Witness’. From films focusing on issues of vital importance to 21st century Australia, to explorations of its history, and personal journeys of discovery, this series offers a unique range of perspectives on the contemporary nation.

In ‘Bearing Witness’ to the contemporary moment, this screening series – and the accompanying Q&A sessions – offer a chance to re-evaluate our approaches to narratives of historical and contemporary importance to Australia and its place in the world.

Further info on the three screenings can be found below,
but virtual bookings are now open: https://watch.eventive.org/menzies/

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POSTPONED: Menzies Screening Series 2019/20

MS-2019:20

UPDATE 12/05/2020: For obvious reasons, this year’s Menzies Screenings were all cancelled, and the series postponed. All things going well, I hope to be able to present an extended version of this themed screening series at the Menzies Australia Institute in 2020/21.

Delayed slightly by a hefty first term workload (and two bouts of UCU strike action), I’m pleased to announce that the Menzies Screening Series is returning to the Menzies Australia Institute at King’s College London for a trio of events in early 2020.

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