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Rolf De Heer

Off The Leash's Tierney White got to chat on the phone with Rolf De Heer ahead of the Darwin International Film Festival. De Heer worked alongside his partner, Director Molly Reynolds, on Another Country, which screens during DIFF.

Hi there Rolf, thanks for making the time to chat with me today. You’ll have to excuse me – I’m a little nervous – I’m a bit star struck to be honest.

Oh thank you, that’s lovely.

If you don’t mind I’ll just pop you on speaker for the interview.

That’s fine. You sound like you’re in a cave, but that’s okay. [laughs]

Well maybe I am in a cave – you know what arts funding is like.

Ah, yes, yes, yes!

Firstly, what does it feel like to have Another Country selected for the Darwin International Film Festival?

It’s a very fine thing to have it selected, because the feel for me is, and I think Molly (Director) is the same, that it will play differently in different places. Darwin is one of the really interesting places, and the audience will get very different things from it than say, the Melbourne crowd would get from it. We’re both very interested in understanding how it plays in Darwin, so it’s great that it’s in the DIFF.

The film was directed by your partner, Molly Reynolds, what is it like to work together at both a professional and creative level?

There are projects Molly has done that I’ve not worked on at all, and I’ve done a number of projects without Molly, but in some places things come into synthesis. That really started in Ten Canoes when we needed more expertise in the area of multimedia, and Molly’s really great at that stuff. Out of Ten Canoes came a number of projects that were quite successful, for example, the Twelve Canoes website, which was Molly’s creation. When Charlie’s Country came about, we thought ‘there’s stuff here – it would be stupid not to take advantage of it’ and so Molly then carried the load completely while I was making Charlie’s Country.

Look it’s a wonderful experience to come together and collaborate. We both share the same film editor, Tania Nehme, and so there’s a little crew here in Southern Tasmania and it works very well – it’s a very good process.

David Gulpilil is the main character/narrator in the film, and the two of you have worked together several times before – what keeps drawing you to David?

It just so it happens – each time, either way. In the case of Another Country it was clearer because it runs parallel to Charlie’s Country, so it came out of that – it was a natural thing. In the first instance I had thought about making a film for a couple of years, and the opportunity presented itself to work with David, so I called him up and it’s all gone from there.

Why do you think it was important to have the story told through David’s voice?

Well, it’s David’s perspective, and Molly and I have learnt over the years what his voice in this area is. It seemed like a really good and interesting opportunity to tell this story with his voice because he’d worked on Charlie’s Country. To have that inner perspective is different. You can have all sorts of films made told by all sorts of people, but I think the voice comes from within and makes it much more interesting. It allows the audience to perceive things differently, and so far it has.

What is your hope when you create films such as this, and the rest of the Country suite?

Look, I’ve been at it for a number of years, and honestly, I just hope for a respectful reception, you know. We [Molly] both understand we can’t change the world with stuff like this – we can form a small but a significant part of a debate that is going on and if that’s what it does then fantastic. For me too, I think, if one person perceives things differently than before, the extent of the effort has been worthwhile.

Absolutely. And that’s playing out in the media quite a lot at the moment. From my perspective, I think it’s great that this discussion is happening, and you’re making these beautiful films that show another perspective.

Well I hope so Tierney – I hope it strikes that chord, and so far so good. As I said earlier, the Darwin audience will be different to the Melbourne audience, so we will see.

What does the future hold for Rolf De Heer?

Look, he’s not sure [laughs] he’s writing at the moment – well, not at this exact moment, but I write early in the morning. We will see what happens. I’m enjoying enormously being home in Tasmania. Charlie’s Country took me away from here much longer than expected, and I’ve spent the last year and a half almost constantly travelling. Now that’s finally coming to an end, I’m quite enjoying it at the moment [laughs].

Well enjoy your writing and time off, and being back in Tassie. Thank you so much for talking with me today – it’s been a treat, and I look forward to seeing the film at DIFF – all the best with it.

No worries Tierney, thank you. Good luck with your writing!


Check out our feature on DIFF, as well as the program by clicking here.

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