'Charlie's Country': Powerful Film About Man Caught Between Cultures

David Gulpilil portrays Charlie, an indigenous Australian unable to adapt to the changing culture of his community.

"Charlie's Country" is the third collaboration between David Gulpilil, an Australian Aboriginal actor, and Rolf de Heer, a Dutch-born director who lives in Australia. Mr. Gulpilil plays the title character, who lives in a Northern Territory Aboriginal community where white laws have encroached and undermined the traditional ways of life.

When Charlie and his friend Black Pete go hunting, the police confiscate their weapons, their quarry, and their car. Soon after, Charlie's hand-made spear is taken as well. Unable to acclimate himself to his changing community, Charlie decamps to the bush, where he tries to live according to the traditional ways. But the idyll is temporary, as heavy rains take their toll on his already fragile health. He lands in an urban hospital, then in jail, and finally back in his community.

The range of Mr. Gulpilil's performance is extraordinary, and his time-worn face, which often fills the screen, is the film's center of gravity. It's not surprising he won a best actor award at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The film is a powerful and poignant look, masterfully directed and shot, at the struggles of an indigenous culture to survive the onslaught of white attitudes and laws.

"Charlie's Country" will screen again on Monday at noon at Sag Harbor Cinema. It is the only narrative film in the Films of Conflict and Resolution program.

Charlie and Black Pete return from a successful hunting expedition, only to lose everything to the police.
Charlie leads the police to the camp of two white drug traffickers, but it does nothing to improve his standing with the authorities.