A raw and beautiful portrait of an extraordinary Australian music talent has taken out Perth Festival’s 2018 Golden Deckchair as the people’s choice of the Lotterywest Films program.

Gurrumul was voted the audience favourite after a stellar Lotterywest Films season at UWA Somerville and ECU Joondalup Pines wrapped up at the weekend. The Perth Festival season was the first full cinematic run for the film anywhere in the world.

Directed by Western Australian filmmaker Paul Damien Williams, Gurrumul celebrates the life and career of the late Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, one of Australia’s most important and acclaimed voices.

Filmed over many years and completed just before he died in July 2017, Gurrumul portrays an artist on the brink of global reverence and the struggles he and those closest to him faced in balancing his touring and performing commitments with the pull of family and culture on Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land.

‘It was a great personal thrill that Perth Festival programmed Gurrumul for its first theatrical run anywhere in the world,’ director Paul Damien Williams said. ‘Then for the film to have connected with a large Perth audience is particularly significant for me, being a Western Australian resident. It’s an award that my team and all of the participants in the film will treasure.’

Lotterywest Films Program Manager Tom Vincent said Gurrumul was a rare film of great artistic quality that conveyed something very special in Australian culture.

The Western Australian premiere of Gurrumul in February was one of the highlights of Perth Festival, with special guests Johno Yunupingu, Michael Hohnen and Djuki Mala performing live on a magical opening night at UWA Somerville.

‘The experience of showing Gurrumul at Perth Festival ranks for me as one of the happiest and most rewarding of all in my 13 years of curating film programs in the UK and Australia,’ Vincent said.

‘My congratulations to Perth Festival guests Paul Damien Williams, Michael Hohnen and to all the Gurrumul creative team. We all look forward to celebrating their further success with their magnificent film.’

This is the fourth year running that a documentary has won the Golden Deckchair audience award after The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in 2017, Sherpa: Trouble on Everest in 2016 and The Salt of the Earth in 2015.

Distributed by Madman Entertainment, Gurrumul opens in cinemas nationally this month and screens at Luna Leederville from 26 April. Details: lunapalace.com.au