de Heer’s Charlie’s Country is one of a number of projects to receive Screen Australia backing, also including Wolf Creek 2 and Predestination.

Writer/director Rolf de Heer and actor David Gulpilil will together create Charlie’s Country, a portrait of a man’s struggle to understand how he should define himself as an Aboriginal in modern Australia.

Charlie’s Country has the go-ahead as a result of investment from Screen Australia. The board of the government agency also approved the funding of Predestination, Michael and Peter Spierig’s follow up to Daybreakers, and reaffirmed its July 2011 backing of the horror pic Wolf Creek 2, albeit with a new producer attached.

Charlie’s Country will be the prolific de Heer’s third feature with strong indigenous themes after Ten Canoes, set in ancient times, and The Tracker, set soon after white settlement. Gulpilil played the title character in The Tracker (2002), winning every major Australian best actor award for his performance, and consulted on Ten Canoes (2006).

“David will play Charlie knowing a lot about the character’s situation,” de Heer told ScreenDaily today, referring to Charlie’s Country. He expects to begin filming in March or April 2013 in Arnhem Land, which was the location for Ten Canoes, and Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Ethan Hawke worked with the Spierig brothers on Daybreakers, which grossed more than $50 million worldwide, and will again on Predestination, which is expected to go into production in the first quarter of 2013.

Predestination got a lot of attention at Cannes when Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired US rights. TimMcGahan, who is producing with Paddy McDonald, told ScreenDaily that this deal remains in place.

The film noir, science fiction crime thriller is set in a world where a secret government agency prevents killers and terrorists from ever committing crimes. It is based on a Robert A Heinlein short story and tells of an agent who has to recruit his younger self to pursue a criminal.

Helen Leake is now producing Wolf Creek 2, which, like its highly successful predecessor, will be directed by Greg McLean and star John Jarratt as the killer who inhabits Australia’s deserted back roads. Matt Hearn is no longer producing but will get an executive producer credit.

The original Wolf Creek was made for a few million and grossed $28 million (A$27m) worldwide. Plans for the sequel got disrupted last year when a dispute developed over a promised $5.2m (A$5m) investment from colourful former doctor and jailbird Geoffrey Edelsten.

Arclight Films is handling both Predestination and Wolf Creek 2. Pinnacle will release Predestination locally, Roadshow will release Wolf Creek 2 and Hopscotch has signed on for Charlie’s Country, which will be handled internationally by Fandango Portobello, de Heer’s long-term partners.

Screen Australia is tipping $5.7 million (A$5.5m) into the three projects, which will together cost $17.6 million (A$17m).

Vertigo Productions
Producers: Nils Erik Nielsen, Peter Djigirr
Writer/directorz: Rolf de Heer
International Sales: Fandango Portobello
Australian distributor: Hopscotch
Cast: David Gulpilil
Synopsis: Charlie struggles to understand how he should define himself as an Aboriginal in modern Australia.

Wolfhound Pictures/Blacklab Entertainment
Producers: Paddy McDonald, Tim McGahan
Writer/directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
International sales: Arclight Films
Australian distributor: Pinnacle Films
Synopsis: Chronicles the life of a temporal agent who on his final assignment must recruit his younger self, while pursuing the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

Emu Creek Pictures
Producer/writer/director: Greg McLean
Producers: Helen Leake, Steve Topic
Writer: Aaron Sterns
International sales: Arclight Films
Australian distributor: Roadshow Films
Synopsis: The outback once again becomes a place of mind-bending horror, action and suspense as another unwitting backpacker becomes prey for crazed, serial-killing pig-shooter, Mick Taylor.