In 2006, Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer picked up the Un Certain Regard Special Prize for his film Ten Canoes, which explored the consequences of colonisation on Aboriginal communities. Charlie’s Country marks his third collaboration with the Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil. Rolf de Heer looks back at the origins of the film and its inspirations.
Photo of the film Charlie’s country © RR
How did your film came about?
David Gulpilil and I have been friends for a long time. The success of two of my previous films is down to him, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. I found out that he was in prison and went to see him. He needed help, but the only real help I could offer him was to feature him in my next film. While he was in prison, we thought the film through, above all in order to give him something to aim for beyond his time in jail.
An anecdote from the filming of Charlie’s Country?
The film was supposed to be shot in the rainy season, in order to take advantage of the late rains. But that year there was virtually no rainy season, and when we began to film, it was already over. I lived in hope, but not a single drop fell. I ended up trying to rewrite the script without the rain, because we had to go on but it just wasn't working anymore. And then it began to pour in sheets – we were able to shoot a few scenes, but the filming was interrupted all the same because the rain played havoc with the roads and tracks...
Tell us about your next project
I don't have a next project because I haven't even finished this one. I don't have a script in waiting, there's nothing on the cards yet. When Charlie's Country is finally over, I'll have spent a total of three years on this film. I'm thinking of stopping, taking a break, if just for a few months in order to get my energy and strength back and put a few experiences behind me in order to start afresh on something. But if we do get round to talking about a potential future project, it will very probably be filmed in the tropics, the Bush, or even during the rainy season!
Finally what kind of films are your influences?
I'm deeply interested by the films other people make. Like films from other cultures. Everything influences me old films as well as new ones. I've been lucky enough to see films from every country, and from every period in cinematic history But cinematographic culture has become so diffuse that it's difficult to identify what influenced me most directly.
Thursday 22nd May / Debussy Theatre / 11:00 am - 4.30 pm
>> Go to interactive calendar