A documentary exploring the extraordinary life of Indigenous actor, dancer, singer, and painter David Gulpilil released nationally in cinemas today (May 27).
MY NAME IS GULPILIL follows the proud Yolgnu man as he nears the end of his life, diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in 2017 and given six months to live, Gulpilil defies odds to tell his incredible story, entirely in his own words.
Director Molly Reynolds (Another Country and 12 Canoes) who is a close friend and collaborator said despite battling terminal cancer, David was determined to deliver one last performance.
“It was so important to David that he had purpose, and he had focus in his life because otherwise I think he would only have the time and the space to dwell on his condition,” Reynolds said.
“Now four years later, he’s defied the prognosis but he’s an unwell man – he can’t escape his condition anymore, which I think would really be hard for anyone and especially David.”
“It was great to keep him working for as long as we did – it was his gift to his audience, who he’s been performing for all his life and I think it’s terrific that he has that parting gift.”
The intimate documentary spans fifty-years with snippets from Gulpilil’s iconic movies, one-man stage show, and news reports as David recounts the highs and lows throughout his distinguished career.
Reynolds says it was incredibly important the film was told in David’s own words.
“Us Whitefellas, we have to stop speaking on behalf of Blackfellas – this was going to be all David, and David is more [than capable]”
“Very few people could do what David has done with this documentary – I knew David could do it, could stare down the lens and hold his own for a good hundred minutes.”
“David always delivers.”