Not available for screening anymore
  1. Extra


    Directed by



    84 min

    • English


    For forty years and with infectious humour and optimism, Jack Charles has juggled a life of crime with another successful career - acting. Since founding the first Aboriginal theatre company, Jack has performed with Australia's most renowned actors and directors in features, TV series and plays. Filmmaker Amiel Courtin - Wilson follows Jack over seven years - blurring the line between director and accomplice as Jack traverses the criminal and acting worlds. However, the law finally catches up and when Jack faces a jail sentence he might not survive, he is forced to decide if he can go straight for the first time in his life. BASTARDY is the story of one man ʼ s journey into the light.


    Jack Charles
    Jack Hutchings
    Richard Lowenstein
    Bill Murphy

    Director's Statement

    As soon as I met Jack Charles I knew I had to make a film about him and BASTARDY is the culmination of seven transformative years of work researching, following and filming one of Australia’s near-forgotten treasures. During those seven years, 120 hours were captured on camera and condensed into a feature film that presents the many incarnations of Jack: drug addict, critically acclaimed actor, cat burglar and Aboriginal elder. What also formed was a deep friendship between Jack and myself. Like my previous documentary CHASING BUDDHA, this film came about through a personal connection with Jack that grew into an insatiable curiosity about his life. Jack Charles is an old family friend and I had grown up hearing stories about his escapades as both an actor and cat burglar. When I started making BASTARDY in 2001, I had no idea where Jack’s journey was going to take me. From the beginning, researching Jack’s childhood and making the film was an amazing education as I had come from a place of total naivety about Koorie culture – urban or otherwise. Like my previous documentaries I assumed that I would shoot with him for several months, edit the film and that would be it. But as Jack’s story began to unfold and I witnessed the reality of his lifestyle as a homeless man and a heroin addict, I started seeing him more and more regularly until it was normal for Jack to visit my house every day. As Jack and I became closer and closer over the seven year shoot, he effectively moved into my house several times and there were periods of months where the filmmaking paled in comparison to the increasingly profound friendship we developed. The film’s structure mirrors this gradual process - the more transgressive elements of Jack’s life being slowly revealed throughout the documentary and his current day story unfolding concurrently with his history. Just as the audience feels as though they have a hold on Jack, the prism through which they are viewing him is rotated and another element of his personality is revealed.



    Amiel Courtin-Wilson

    Amiel Courtin-Wilson


    I make films to be humbled by the immensity of others - to explore what it is to be alive - to chart the chasms between people as well as the things that bind and ignite us. The intimate and circuitous human relationships forged during the filmmaking process is everything to me and hopefully each of the films screening in this program are as pure a manifestation of those relationships as possible.

    Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s first feature documentary CHASING BUDDHA (1999) premiered at Sundance in 2000 and won a slew of awards across Australia including Best Documentary at both the Sydney Film Festival and the Inside Film Awards. His other films include the multi-award winning feature documentary BASTARDY (2008), and CICADA (2009) which was selected as part of Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2009. Amiel's first dramatic feature film HAIL (2011) premiered at Venice International Film Festival in 2011, was lauded by critics such as Adrian Martin as being the best Australian Film of 2011 and won the Age Critics Award for Best Australian Feature Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival, as well as best film at Fantasia International Film Festival and Fantaspoa International Film Festival. Amiel's most recent feature film RUIN, co-directed with Michael Cody premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize as part of the Orizzonti section of the festival and has gone on to win awards for Best Cinematography at the 2Morrow Moscow International Film Festival and Best Editing at the 56th Asian Pacific Film Festival.

    Selected Filmography