• He was honoured with Australia's highest film prize, the Longford Lyell Award. (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
The late icon was celebrated by the country's glitterati at film and television's night of nights.
Dan Butler

9 Dec 2021 - 9:39 AM  UPDATED 9 Dec 2021 - 10:02 AM

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts paid special tribute to late icon of the silver screen David Gulpilil AM last night, as the country continues to mourn his passing a week ago. 

Gulpilil was already due to receive the award when his death at age 68 was announced last week, following a three year battle with lung cancer. 

The Yolngu man was recognised with the Longford Lyell Award, the AACTA's highest honour, which recognises a truly outstanding contribution to the cinematic arts. 

Gulpilil, who lived on Country until he was 16, was chosen to appear in the iconic film 'Walkabout' for his hunting and dancing skills. 

It catapulted him into a film career that has been matched by few in this country, leaving a cultural legacy of legendary appearances. 

From Walkabout to Ten Canoes: Six iconic Dalaithngu films
Plucked from obscurity at just 16 years old, David Dalaithngu went on to become one of the country's greatest cinematic figures.

Storm Boy, The Tracker and Rabbit Proof Fence were among his best known performances. 

It was not the only gong he was to pick up Wednesday night. His final film, an exploration of his extraordinary life entitled My Name is Gulpilil, won Best Documentary. 

Other stars of the country's scene paid high tribute to Gulpilil. 

Goa Gunggari Wakka Wakka actor, director and producer Leah Purcell described him as "an inspiration, a teacher, a Songman of the highest order and a man of deep culture.

"We will miss him.”

Baker Boy, Jack Thompson, Baz Luhrmann and Hugh Jackman were among those also paying tribute to Gulpilil.

Thompson said the actor nurtured a special relationship with the camera, and confronted the enormous challenge of navigating two worlds.

“He brought with him from Arnhem Land absolute magic,” Thompson said.

“Even though he always said he was just being himself [on film], he was a superb actor.”

Gulpilil honoured ahead of AACTA Awards
Images of the late icon of cinema were projected onto the sails of the Opera House this week.