The Tracker (2002)

dir. Rolf de Heer

Abstract

This web page has been prepared as a Murdoch University assignment (May, 2002) for the unit H231: Australian Cinema, co-ordinated by Dr Garry Gillard. It provides an account and review of the film information I have located about director Rolf de Heer's Australian film, The Tracker (2002). The material has been prepared in two main parts. Part one provides film information (principal cast and credits, bibliographical details of interviews, essays, on-line presence and search methods). Part two provides a critical review of The Tracker, and its literature (plot, synopsis, personal commentary, critical uptake, circumstances of production, relation to other works, position, value and relation to Australian film and national cinema).

Navigation links for this web page are book-marked below.

Part 1: Film Information
Principal Credits
Release Dates
Box Office Figures
Details of Interviews
Details of Reviews and Critical Essays
Details of Film's On-Line Presence

Part 2: Critical Review of Film and its Literature
Critical Review
Personal Commentary
Critical Uptake
Circumstances of Production, Release and Box-Office
Film in Relation to Other Works
General Position of The Tracker in relation to Australian Film and its Value
Relation to Australian National Cinema as a Medium Sized English Language Cinema
Festivals and Awards
References
Filmography
Contact


PART ONE - FILM INFORMATION

Principal Credits

Principal Cast (in credits order)
David Gulpilil THE TRACKER
Gary Sweet THE FANATIC
Damon Gameau THE FOLLOWER
Grant Page THE VETERAN
Noel Wilton THE FUGITIVE

Directed by
Rolf de Heer

Written by
Rolf de Heer

Produced by
Bridget Ikin executive producer
Nils Erik Nielsen associate producer
Julie Ryan producer
Rolf de Heer producer

Cinematography by
Ian Jones

Film Editing by
Tania Nehme

Sound Editing by
Sara Jane Van Oyen

Original Music by
Graham Tardif
Rolf de Heer

Songs Sung by
Archie Roach

Paintings by
Peter Coad

Production
Vertigo Productions Pty Ltd (Australia)

Distributors
Fandango (international)
The Globe Group (Australia)
IntraMovie (international sales)

Funding
The Tracker is presented by the Australian Film Finance Corporation, Adelaide Festival, and SBS Independent, in association with the South Australian Film Corporation. It was produced with the financial assistance of the Australian Film Commission and jointly commissioned by the Adelaide Festival of Arts 2000 and SBS Independent. The Tracker was developed with the financial assistance of Screenwest and The Lotteries Commission of Western Australia (although the only reference I have located for Western Australian sponsorship, is in the end titles of the film. See details this web page, under the heading 'Circumstances of Production, Release and Box-Office').

Country (Origin) ... Australia
Film Location ... South Australian outback at Arkaroola,
a private wildlife sanctuary in semi-desert country,
located in the northern part of the Flinders Ranges,
about 130 kilometres east of Leigh Creek
Original owner's of the area: 'The Coulthardes'
Year Released 2002
Language English
Classification (M)
Duration 98 minutes

Note: for a complete and detailed list of all credits go to The Tracker's international distributor, Fandango, and search for 'The Tracker', from http://www.fandango.it/


Release Dates
World premiere Saturday March 2, 2002 (Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide)
National release date: August 8, 2002

Box Office Figures
Unable to locate figures at this time (April/May, 2002) from the Australian Film Corporation website AFC or the IMDb database.


Bibliographical Details of Interviews

Urban, Andrew. De Heer - 'The Tracker: Wrestles With Jaguars', Urban Cinefile Interview, 8 August, 2002, accessed 3/03/03 from http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/

Details: The first part of Andrew Urban's interview with Rolf De Heer discusses Charlie Kiroff, and why the film is dedicated to him. The second part discusses Rolf de Heer's background and motivation for writing The Tracker.

'Charlie Kiroff was always the first person Rolf de Heer would pick in a crew (acting as car and motorbike mechanic and best boy).'

'Rolf de Heer wrote a twelve page treatment in 1991 angry at stuff I didn't know things that were swept under the carpet that are a part of my heritage.'

'This is the ninth film on which Rolf de Heer and composer Graham Tardif have collaborated.'

'The songs only began to work when there was an indigenous voice - and that influenced the words.'

Copeland, Julie. ABC Arts Online, 'Paintings for the film: The Tracker' (undated) accessed 13/4/03, from http://www.abc.net.au/arts/visual/stories/s658895.htm

Details: Julie Copeland's interview with South Australian artist Peter Coad, whose paintings feature in The Tracker.

'All the artwork that was going to be produced was in the script and we just basically followed the script.'

'We worked in the Adnyamathanha Dreaming area and it was a very emotional experience.'

'It's hard to understand my emotions sometimes and I found it overwhelming to be there with the Coulthardes, the original owners of the area'

'The film was set in 1922, so some of [the Coulthardes] people's parents would have experienced it.'

'Coad's paintings were used in the film to replace the brutal murder scenes and to distance the audience, forcing them to confront the death scenes in a different way.'

'According to the Director, Rolf De Heer, Coad's paintings altered the visual syntax of its realistic violence We used it to cut down the violence and to work on the subconscious psyche (of the viewer).'

Peter Coad's homepage can be found at http://www.petercoadart.com.au/

Edwards, David. The Blurb interview with Rolf de Heer, (undated), accessed April 2002, from http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue21/RolfdeHeer.htm

Details: Rolf de Heer is interviewed by David Edwards about a range of issues including the South Australian film industry.

'Rolf de Heer: The story is one I made up. It's not based on any specific historical incident; it's more a generalised, these are the kinds of things that happened, and this is what it was like.'

' Part of the renaissance in the Australian film industry came through Don Dunstan in those years; so there's a history there to begin with. Also, we're sort of fortunate to have an infrastructure that, for example, Perth doesn't have ...'


Bibliographical Details of Critical Essays and Reviews

Essays

1. McFarlane, Brian. Meanjin, 'Back tracking: Brian McFarlane considers racial matters and their historical representation in recent Australian cinema', March 2003 v62 i1 p59(11). (Critical Essay), accessed 25/04/03, from the Gale Group Infotrac search database, you will need to enter a password for access, then search for the above article, start from http://0-infotrac.galegroup.com.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/itw

Details: McFarlane discusses the issue of genre, whether The Tracker can be seen as a Western or not. He argues that the film is a 'Western in its narrative, its iconography, the characters who enact its conflicts, and its ideology'(p2), but ultimately argues that the film is not a Western (p3).

2. Siemienowicz, Rochelle. Journal of Australian Studies, 'Globalisation and Home Values in New Australian Cinema', Dec 1999 p49. (Critical Essay), accessed 28/04/03, from the Gale Group Infotrac search database, you will need to enter a password for access, then search for the above article, start from http://0-infotrac.galegroup.com.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/itw

Details: Discussion of Rolf de Heer, but not The Tracker. Provides an overview of a number of other Australian films.

Reviews (subsequent to film's release)

1. Pomeranz, Margaret and Stratton, David. 'The Tracker', SBS: The Movie Show, accessed 13/04/03, from the 'movieshow reviews link at http://www.sbs.com.au/

Details: Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton review, and provide a rating of Rolf de Heer's The Tracker. Margaret and David both agree on a four and a half star rating. They provide a brief discussion of the film's plot/synopsis, and Rolf de Heer's use of Peter Coad's paintings.

2. Wilson, Jake. 'Looking Both Ways: The Tracker', Senses of Cinema, accessed 4/03/03 from http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/03/24/tracker.html

Details: Discussion of the plot/synopsis, genre, aesthetics and de Heer as an auteur.

'In some ways, The Tracker resembles a stripped-down Western, with its rugged outdoor setting and focus on primal power struggles between men.'

' the film is a politically charged fable about colonisation and resistance, pondering the very contemporary question of how far two laws and two systems of belief can exist side by side. But above all, this is a drama of vision, where what each character sees (or fails to see) will determine his destiny.'

Reviews (around the time of the film's release)

Goulburn, Murray. 'The Tracker, ABC- The Backyard', ABC Online, 1/11/02, accessed 4/03/03, from http://www.abc.net.au/goulburnmurray/stories/s716391.htm

Details: Discussion of the film, Rolf de Heer as an independent director.

'There are [apart from the characters], at least two other major characters: the stunning landscape impressively captured through Ian Jones' lenses and the songs [sung by] Archie Roach that are rich with comment and melancholy.'

'Watch for the use of clothing , as metaphor for power shifts within the gradually disintegrating party.'

Rigg, Julie. ABC: Sunday Morning, 'The Tracker' (film review), 11/08/2002, accessed 4/03/03, from http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/nclub/stories/s646510.htm

'Rolf de Heer wrote the original storyline for The Tracker ten years ago, influenced by Henry Reynolds' scrutiny of frontier history.'

'While celebrating the achievements of The Tracker, I have to also acknowledge its faults. The first is in the script. There are pompous, unbelievable speeches these men deliver at certain times which undercut credibility '

'Rolf de Heer is one of Australia's most stubbornly independent directors. To keep innovating he characteristically works on low budgets. He is not a great screenwriter. This film would have benefited from a collaboration with a screenwriter in tune with de Heer's vision '

'The Tracker is nonetheless worth celebrating, for what it is attempting to tell us of our history, for the ideas it challenges, for Gulpilil's magnificent presence. With a better script, and more time, what a magnificent film it might have been.'

Stratton, David. Variety, 'The Tracker', March 18, 2002 v386 i5 p27(2) (Movie Review)

Details: Provides a summary of financing, production, principal crew and cast.

'Think of an Anthony Mann Western made by an experimental film director '

'On the surface, this is a pared-down, muscular outdoor drama set in 1922 '

' the comparisons with the classic location-based Hollywood outdoor film of the past (ãThe Naked Spurä comes to mind) '

Zion, Lawrie. The Age newspaper, 'The Tracker dominates', 1/11/02

Details: Describes the film as a 'race-relations drama'.

5. Anonymous. 'Nuns, Chechens and Aborigines; (Venice) Film festival', The Economist (US), 14/09/02 pNA, accessed 25/04/03, for access to the Gale Group Infotrac search database, you will need to enter a password for access, then search for the above article, start from http://0-infotrac.galegroup.com.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/itw

Details: Brief discussion of The Tracker, Rolf de Heer, and David Gulpilil.

'Mr de Heer's new film, described by some as a western in the outback '

'What lingers, apart from the vicarious guilt, is the memory of a vast landscape, bristling with menace, that has to be scanned like a Jacques Tati film for small details, tiny movements, sudden threats.'

Printed Media Review: Roderick, Conway Morris. 'The Tracker', International Herald Tribune (USA), Iss. 37175, 13 September 2002, pg.16 (NP), search listing only.

Note: These reviews are only a sample of those available.


Details of On-Line Presence

The Internet Movie Database: http://us.imdb.com/, provided database information and links to general film information, biographies and a review posted to the site.

2. INFORTRAC Gale Group: Expanded academic via Murdoch portal, for access to the Gale Group Infotrac search database, you will need to enter a password for access, then search criteria, start from http://0-infotrac.galegroup.com.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/itw. This database provided access to four articles, including one critical article by Brian McFarlane in Meanjin, one by Sandy George for Film Journal International, and two from Variety, including a review by David Stratton.

Australia's Culture and Recreation database http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/, accessed April/May 2002. This database provided access to a plethora of information. For example, a search for 'the tracker + rolf de heer' matched 3181 comments (many repetitive). The first few pages of search information included access to publications and reviews from Urban Cinefile, Realtime, Senses of Cinema, ABC, SBS, The Movie Show, Triple J, Melbourne and Adelaide Festivals, Sunday Morning. Another way of entering this site was from http://www.acn.net.au/.

Website search engine Google http://www.google.com/, accessed April/May 2002. This site was useful for honing down searches for specific information wanted quickly, a quick search for an article titled 'Rolf de Heer's The Tracker', also pulled up reviews from The Age newspaper, Variety, Inside Film Magazine and Triple J, and for The Tracker's production company, Vertigo Productions Pty Ltd (see heading 'Search Techniques for information about this website).

The Australian Newspaper: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/, accessed 15/04/03. At this site I found references to summaries of 44 newspaper articles which matched my search query 'The Tracker', with a maximum of 20 returned. These included articles about The Tracker, Rolf De Heer and David Gulpilil in particular, with many of the articles discussing his AFI Best Actor Award.


My Searching Techniques

At the time of my research (2003), there were no accessible hard copy texts available through the library system for The Tracker (released in 2002). As such, my research sources include the video version of The Tracker, available as a new release since April, 2003. A screening of the film at Murdoch University (week six) for one of the lecture/screenings, and a screening of The Tracker, at the Film and Television Institute (FTI) outdoor film festival in March 2002. My main research tool has been the internet.

The links provided at the H231 links page were a useful starting point, and I followed many of them to begin with. Some websites that I wanted to access for specific articles had restricted access, for subscription or other reasons. For example, the Urban Cinefile page allowed a brief period of access, but is generally restricted to subscribers. I was initially able to access Rolf de Heer's diaries for The Tracker's shoot and production, but my later attempts found that the diaries were no longer available. However, I did find access to the Urban Cinefile articles I was after through the 'Culture and Recreation' database. I also located access to Rolf de Heer's diaries, which are currently (May, 2002), available on-line at The Tracker's production company website,Vertigo Productions Pty Ltd (Australia).

The Tracker's production company,Vertigo Productions Pty Ltd (Australia), and Fandango, the international distributor, were useful sources for the film's general production information. The Globe Group, the Australian distributor, had relatively little information, and the URL link to Rolf de Heer's diaries did not work.

* For access to Rolf de Heer's diaries, go to Vertigo Productions Pty Ltd (Australia), http://www.vertigoproductions.com.au/
* For the international distributor, go to Fandango (Italian), http://www.fandango.it/
* For the Australian distributor, go to The Globe Group (Australia), http://www.globefilm.com.au/

I was unable, at this time, to find any box office information from either the Australian Film Commission or the IMDb database. I was also unsuccessful in accessing Metro Magazine's issue no.134, which is subscription based, and included contemporary articles related to The Tracker.


PART TWO - Critical Review of The Tracker and its Literature

Plot/Synopsis

The Tracker, is set in the Australian outback in the year 1922. It is a story about four men in pursuit of an Aboriginal man, accused of the murder of a white woman. Three of the four men are white, and horseback. The fourth, the group's Aboriginal tracker, leads them on foot.

The men on horseback are uniformed colonial police officers. All the characters have titles instead of names. The officer-in-charge is the Fanatic (Gary Sweet), a brutal and misguided man, who ruthlessly drives their group in an unrelenting pursuit of the Fugitive (Noel Wilton). The other two officers are the Follower (Damon Gameau), new to the outback, na•ve and impressionable, and the Veteran (Grant Page), a quiet, world weary character. Their guide is the film's star, the Tracker (David Gulpilil), a resourceful and complex character, who keeps everyone guessing until the end.

They are constantly half a day behind the Fugitive. Frustrations spill over as the tension mounts. Relationships among the pursuers are put to the test, and alliances shift among the men. Brutal acts are repaid. Law and justice are explored.


Personal Commentary

The Tracker, begins with a full frame shot of a Peter Coad painting, that dissolves to reveal the filmed landscape it represents. A stylistic technique used throughout the film with various effects. The story of the film begins abruptly, with a group of men already in pursuit of the Fugitive they are tracking for an alleged crime. The story's main characters, the Fugitive, the Veteran, the Follower, the Fanatic and the Tracker, are introduced in long tracking close-ups, each given a similar amount of screen time. These establishing shots are matched to the soundtrack's song lyrics, which reveal something about their individual characters, minimising the need for dialogue. This aesthetic is used repetitively as a motif throughout the film with powerful effect.

Long shots and wide lenses capture the film's location in the Flinders Ranges and Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary to great effect, somewhat reminiscent of a Hollywood western, with landscape used to dwarf characters, amplifying the difficulty of survival in a 'hostile' environment. The knowledgeable survive, and the knowledgeable are those characters who can understand and adapt to their environment.

The Tracker understands different languages, cultures, laws and justices. The Tracker spoke English, and the Indigenous language of the Aboriginal people for the region, even though we learn, at the end of the film, that he is not local to the region. He speaks Latin, when he gives benediction for the death of the Veteran. His use of Latin suggests knowledge of missionary education. His ability to speak all three languages, indicates that his knowledge is cross-culturally based.

The English colonial class-system is evident with the Tracker on foot, in his 'place', with the rest of the 'white' men on horseback, even though, to begin with, the Tracker wears the same police uniform. As the film progresses, the Tracker discards his uniform. Actions which work metaphorically in both scenes, separating the Tracker, psychologically, from the men he leads.

The Tracker deals with 'white' and 'aboriginal' law, and is ultimately positioned to dispense justice. The Fugitive, is eventually caught and punished under tribal lore for the rape of an Aboriginal women. However, the Tracker believes the Fugitive when he declares his innocence of the crime he was originally accused of, the murder a white women. The Follower, believes the Fugitive should be taken back for 'white justice', but the Tracker explains that under white law, the Fugitive is already considered guilty of the crime. The Tracker, with irony and humour, later suggests that the guilty party was 'probably some white fella'. The Tracker's final comments, to the Follower, are a reference to earlier racist comments delivered by the Fanatic, 'you can't trust those white fellas, they're sneaky, shifty '.


Critical Uptake

The Tracker, presents a simplistic vision of reconciliation in its conclusion. It does so after its script reduces its characters to archetypes (characters with titles rather than names, printed accounts of the attitudes they represent). The Tracker's story promotes mythologies (an 'oogie boogie' approach to spirituality), that perpetuate, rather than make visible, a legacy of problematising Aboriginal representation in film (Jedda, We of the Never Never).

In this sense, The Tracker offers little to the contemporary social and political problems of race relations in Australia. Cinema is a powerful medium. It reflects society's challenges, hopes and fears. That is why films with indigenous themes, made by Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers, are so important, because cinema is capable of influencing social and political change.

Another criticism of The Tracker is its narrative sprinkled with dreadful speeches, delivered by the Fanatic. Julie Rigg, (ABC Sunday Morning:11/08/02), who I quoted earlier under the 'reviews heading', writes, 'there are pompous, unbelievable speeches these men deliver at certain times which undercut credibility', and 'with a better script, and more time, what a magnificent film it might have been.'

The use of Peter Coad's paintings has been heralded by many reviewers (see 'bibliography of reviews'), including David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz, as aesthetically interesting, and/or unique. The purpose, to reduce the impact of violence on the audience (not turn them off). It is worth noting that filmmaker, Tracey Moffatt, had previously used still shots of a painting in her film Nice Coloured Girls (1987). The painting is of a sailor's ship, that appears a number of times from varying camera distances, as a motif to refute myths about Aboriginal women. The use of stills here was also driven by its soundtrack.


Circumstances of Production, Release and Box-Office

The circumstances of The Tracker's production are outlined below. The film's release was determined at the time it was commissioned. Box-Office information was not available at this time.

The following quotes and information were sourced from The Tracker's Vertigo Productions website 'information link', from http://www.vertigoproductions.com.au/, April/May, 2002.

The Adelaide Festival of Arts was looking for a project to include in its 2002 film program. Judith Crombie, Head of the South Australian Film Corporation, approached Rolf de Heer and asked him if he had 'anything of such and such a size, within specific parameters.' And he [de Heer] said, 'Well, as a matter of fact, I do.'

Rolf de Heer provided the Adelaide Festival of Arts with a treatment for The Tracker, which he had written ten years earlier while he was researching a different project. '

'He'd been reading stories of the early associations between Aborigines and white colonizers and realised that there was a part of Australia's history which had not been told on film before.'

'The Adelaide Festival of Arts, in partnership with major sponsor SBS, commissioned The Tracker, with the Australian Film Finance Corporation and the South Australian Film Corporation providing additional investment.'

The Tracker's end credits, can be located by searching Fandango's website for 'The Tracker', start from http://www.fandango.it/. End credits listed the following sponsorship information (which included script development assistance provided from Western Australia).

'Presented by AUSTRALIAN FILM FINANCE CORPORATION and ADELAIDE FESTIVAL OF ARTS 2002, SBS INDEPENDENT'

'Developed with financial assistance from SCREENWEST and THE LOTTERIES COMMISSION OF WESTERN AUSTRAILA'

'This film was produced with the financial assistance of the AUSTRALIAN FILM COMMISSION'

'Joint commissioned by ADELAIDE FESTIVAL OF ARTS 2000 & SBS INDEPENDENT'


Film in Relation to Other Works

This section situates The Tracker in relation to the subsequent or prior work of the director Rolf De Heer, producer Julie Ryan, cinematographer Ian Jones, music composer Graham Tardif, and lead actors David Gulpilil and Gary Sweet.

Rolf De Heer has written and directed a number of films, both before and after The Tracker's release in 2002. The following information has been sourced from IMDb's film database.

Rolf De Heer is the writer/director of The Tracker (2002); Alexandra's Project (2003); and The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2000); Dance Me To My Song (1998); The Quiet Room (1996); Epsilon (1995); Bad Boy Bubby (1993); director only (writer is Marc Rosenburg) for Dingo (1991); Encounter At Raven's Gate (1988); Tale Of A Tiger (1984).

Julie Ryan has collaborated with Rolf De Heer as the producer for The Tracker (2002), Alexandra's Project (2003) and The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2000).

Ian Jones has collaborated with Rolf De Heer as the cinematographer for The Tracker (2002); Alexandra's Project (2003); Bad Boy Bubby (1993). Ian Jones was also the second unit director of photography for Rabbit Proof Fence (2001) directed by Phillip Noyce.

Graham Tardif has collaborated with Rolf De Heer on nine films as the music composer including: The Tracker (2002); Alexandra's Project (2003); The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2000); Dance Me To My Song (1998); The Quiet Room (1996); Epsilon (1995); Bad Boy Bubby (1993); Encounter At Raven's Gate (1988); Tale Of A Tiger (1984).

David Gulpilil's collaboration to date with Rolf De Heer is as lead actor in the role of THE TRACKER for the film The Tracker (2002). David Gulpilil has a long history of acting roles and won best actor for his role in The Tracker at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards 2002. David Gulpilil has performed in three different starring roles as the Aboriginal tracker characters during his career: Walkabout (1971), directed by Nicholas Roeg; Rabbit Proof Fence (2001), directed by Phillip Noyce and The Tracker (2002), directed by Rolf De Heer.

Gary Sweet has collaborated with Rolf De Heer as a lead actor in the The Tracker (2002); and Alexandra's Project (2003).


General Position of The Tracker in relation to Australian Film and its Value
The Tracker, is an example of a quality film that blends art film and drama, fact and fiction (O'Regan, 1996:233). The factual element rests in the film's story which is located in Australia's colonial past, and attempts to generally represent attitudes of the day (1922). In this sense, the film blends its fictional story with historical events.

Comments about the Australian Film Industry are quoted as follows:

An article by Andrew Lucre, 'Aussie Industry Struggles to Still Shine' (indieWIRRE/15/08/01 - available from http://www.indiewire.com/biz/biz_010815_OzFilms.html)

'The tax concessions that kick started the industry in the '80s declined and the industry fragmented, exacerbated by the changing landscape of distribution and exhibition. 'Releases became more polarised so that you could do a 20 print release or a 200 print release, but to position a film in between became increasingly difficult,' notes Andrew Pike from Ronin Films '

'There's now little help for those films under $3 million after the AFC's Million Dollar Movie Initiative failed. In a venture with SBSI-Australia's multicultural TV channel, and the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), New Adelaide Festival Director Peter Sellars is funding three features under $3.7 million, including 'Dance Me to My Song' director Rolf de Heer's The Tracker '. 'De Heer shows what is possible. And the frequent return queues for James Hewison's MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival) programming, particularly for Asian and Australian film, show there's no lack of audience support. The was also the case at Brisbane's recent film festival.'

2. Edwards, David. The Blurb interview with Rolf de Heer, (undated), accessed April 2002, from http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue21/RolfdeHeer.htm,

'Part of the renaissance in the Australian film industry came through Don Dunstan in those years; so there's a history there to begin with. Also, we're sort of fortunate to have an infrastructure that, for example Perth doesn't have. But there's also no distraction to us as filmmakers of the overseas film and television productions turning up. And that's the other thing - we have very little of a television industry. I guess as a consequence, people think about films, smaller films; and so it's become like the boutique film capital of Australia.'

Tom O'Regan (1996:60), suggests that localising becomes the means of internationalising; internationalising the means of localising. In this respect, a number of recent films (2002) with indigenous themes (Rabbit Proof Fence, Beneath Clouds, The Tracker), have attracted international attention, and received critical appraisals and awards, from screenings at international festivals. In this sense, the local, a spate of films with indigenous themes, have attracted international attention, which in turn helps promotes Australian film's within the Australian market, to critics and audiences alike.


Relation to Australian National Cinema as a Medium Sized English Language Cinema

The Tracker was made by an experienced and well connected filmmaker. It was made to meet the specific requirements of the Adelaide Festival's 2002 program, which wanted to commission a medium-sized English language film within specific parameters.

Edwards, David. The Blurb interview with Rolf de Heer, (undated), accessed April 2002, from http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue21/RolfdeHeer.htm

'You have Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and Peter Sellars as the new artistic director coming in and saying, 'I want film as part of the Adelaide Festival'. And he then says, 'This is what interests me in terms of films, so then you have a bit of money being put into a number of films that have those themes. And then finally there's the reaction at the moment to the politics in this country at the moment in that area. This society is now getting to a point where it's beginning to deal with that sort of stuff.'

Nichols (cited in O'Regan, 1996:62), suggests that 'within the festival optic Hollywood occupies an 'oppositional' rather than an inspirational position.' Importantly, the film festival circuit provides a way of valuing its own production at the expense of Hollywood's dominance of the English language market. Nichols (1996:62), argues that this is where the attraction lies for Australian filmmakers and audiences alike as it naturalizes the local as internationally acceptable, and provides an important 'space' for Australian filmmaking.


FESTIVALS & AWARDS
The following information was sourced from Vertigo Productions at http://www.vertigoproductions.com.au/ (April, 2002)

* Selected to participate in Official Competition at the 59th Venice International Film Festival 2002

* Opening Night Film, Melbourne International Film Festival 2002

* World Premiere Adelaide Festival of Arts 2002

* David Gulpilil awarded Best Actor Tudawali Award 2002

* Australian Writer's Guild Award Winner - Original Screenplay 2002

* Soundtrack Nominated for ARIA Awards 2002

* APRA-AGSC Music Awards 2002: Best Original Song for a Feature Film: two nominations "Far Away Home" (Winner) and "My History"

* Awarded the Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Script Writing, 2002

* Film Critics Circle 2002: Winner - Best Film, Lead Actor, Music Score, Cinematography. Nominations - Best Direction, Original Screenplay, Editing

* IF Awards 2002: Winner - Best Film, Lead Actor, Music Score. Nominations - Direction, Original Screenplay, Sound, Cinematography

* AFI Awards 2002: Winner - Lead Actor. Nominations including Best Film, Direction, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing

* Festival of Ghent (Belgium) 2002: Winner Best Screenplay

* Valladolid 2002 (Spain): Special Jury Prize

* 2003 Goteborg Film Festival, Sweden

* 2003 Rotterdam International Film Festival

* 2003 Barbican, London

* 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival

* 2003 Hawaii International Spring Film Festival

* 2003 Singapore Film Festival

* 2003 San Francisco Film Festival

* 2003 Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival

* 2003 Washington Film Festival


REFERENCES

Copeland, Julie. ABC Arts Online, 'Paintings for the film: The Tracker' (undated) accessed 13/4/03, from http://www.abc.net.au/arts/visual/stories/s658895.htm

Edwards, David. The Blurb interview with Rolf de Heer, (undated), accessed April 2002, from http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue21/RolfdeHeer.htm

Goulburn, Murray. 'The Tracker, ABC- The Backyard', ABC Online, 1/11/02, accessed 4/03/03, from http://www.abc.net.au/goulburnmurray/stories/s716391.htm

Lucre, Andrew. 'Aussie Industry Struggles to Still Shine' indieWIRRE/15/08/01, accessed 4/03/03, from http://www.indiewire.com/biz/biz_010815_OzFilms.html

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Zion, Lawrie. The Age newspaper, 'The Tracker dominates', 1/11/02


FILMOGRAPHY

Alexandra's Project (2003), dir. Rolf de Heer
Bad Boy Bubby (1993), dir. Rolf de Heer
Beneath Clouds (2002), dir. Ivan Sen
Dance Me To My Song (1998), dir. Rolf de Heer
Encounter At Raven's Gate (1988), dir. Rolf de Heer
Epsilon (1995), dir. Rolf de Heer
Jedda (1955), dir. Charles Chauvel
Nice Coloured Girls (1987), dir. Tracey Moffatt
Rabbit Proof Fence (2001), dir. Phillip Noyce
Tale Of A Tiger (1984), dir. Rolf de Heer
The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2000), dir. Rolf de Heer
The Quiet Room (1996), dir. Rolf de Heer
The Tracker (2002), dir. Rolf de Heer
Walkabout (1971), dir. Nicholas Roeg

CONTACT
email helena sharp at helenas@eon.net.au