Big Fella is the story about the crippling health effects of diabetes and obesity in Indigenous communities throughout Australia, and one man’s love for life, his battle to stay alive, and his fight against the demons of obesity and diabetes.
Happy go lucky Rodney Ardler who weighs in at 185 kilos. At 36 Rodney was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He was told his heart and kidneys were in bad shape and that if his life didn’t change he’d only have a few years to live.
Big Fella follows Rodney’s journey of survival. He undertakes a gruelling exercise and weight loss campaign and decides to have lap-band surgery (gastric banding: the entrance to the stomach is tightened).
12 months after his surgery Rodney ran the City2Surf run, weighing 114 kilos. Today Rodney says he’s a different man and he hopes the film inspires others in a similar position. He weighs in at around 110 kilos.
Big Fella is extraordinary because it shows the community spirit that exists down at La Perouse, a suburb of Sydney. The whole community rallied to give Ardler back his life. Close friend Greg Winter and workmate Jeff ‘Boppa’ Cini opened their own wallets to help pay for Ardler’s surgery. Nathan Garlic strapped on his runners to help Ardler shed 65kg and when he reached his goal weight, world surfing champion Koby Abberton made good on a promise to send the ‘Big Fella’ on an all-expenses-paid trip to Bali.
I'm just a much happier person and I'm able to do a lot more. I love to exercise now whereas I couldn't stand it. I'd lay in bed all day. And now I get up, I run, I do a lot of training and just everything is so much easier.—
It doesn't matter how busy you are, if your mates are doing it tough you have to make time for them - just be there for them.—Michael Longbottom 
- Rodney Ardler - himself
- Release dates
- 2010 - Australia (World Premiere during the 11th Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival, Sydney
- PG - Parental guidance
- Christopher Sainsbury
Rodney Ardler had tried multiple diets before his surgery but all of them failed. He wanted to put his journey onto film so he wouldn’t fail his final attempt.
Find a copy of "Big Fella"
Other films by Michael Longbottom
Explore more Aboriginal movies
Aboriginal movie timeline
Explore movie history with the Aboriginal film timeline.
Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?