David Gulpilil’s full name is David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu. Gulpilil is also spelt Gulparil, which is the name of his Country near Ramingining, central Arnhem Land, N.T.
Since the early 1970s, David Gulpilil has earned more than 30 film credits, and performed alongside Dennis Hopper, Jack Thompson, Miles Davis, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Kenneth Branagh, William Hurt, Richard Chamberlain, Guy Pearce, Paul Hogan, and Ernie Dingo, under acclaimed directors such as Peter Weir, Baz Lurhman, Philip Noyce, Wim Wenders and Rolf de Heer. In 2002, he was awarded Australian Film Industry Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Tracker. That same year, the AFI awarded his other film, Rabbit Proof Fence, Best Film.
Gulpilil is not just a screen actor, however. He was a peerless dancer, for a time perhaps the most renowned traditional dancer in this country. He has written the text for two volumes of children's stories based on his people's beliefs. He has performed a one-man autobiographical show to great acclaim on the stages of the Adelaide Festival of Arts and Sydney's Belvoir Street Theatre. And he paints, in his own distinct but traditionally evolved style, paintings which convey his reverence for the landscape, people and traditional culture of his homeland.
In 1987, Gulpilil was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the arts through the interpretation of Aboriginal culture. His significant contribution to Australian cultural life was again acknowledged in 2001 when he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society through dance and acting.