Life of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu documented in new film

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu.
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu.

WHEN documenting the life of blind indigenous artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu, an “enormous amount of research” was required, according to director Paul Williams.

Gurrumul is a portrait of an artist on the brink of global reverence, and the struggles he and those close to him faced in balancing that which mattered most to him and keeping the show on the road.

Blind from birth, ‘Gurrumul’ found purpose and meaning through songs and music inspired by his community on Elcho Island in far North East Arnhem Land.

“The audience requires a lot of information to make sense of Gurrumul’s musical rise because it emerged from a culture that’s so different to that of most people watching the film,” Williams said.

“I’ve assumed our audience knows next to nothing about Australian Indigenous culture generally, less about the Yolngu culture of North East Arnhem Land, and nothing about Gurrumul’s Gumatj Clan Nation.”

The director said it was initially overwhelming to delve into Gurrumul’s life.

“It was such a different world – like a country within a country – and I have to admit it shamed me how little I really knew about my own country,” he said.

“Eventually I came to greatly admire the community who came to think of me as family and generously overlook the cultural faux pas I made daily.”

Gurrumul screens at UWA Somerville from February 12 – 18 and ECU Joondalup from February 20 – 25