Before Hollywood … there was Bonnywood

Published in the November 2016 issue

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West of the Great Dividing Range in the small town of Bonalbo, a plucky band of farmers, artists, engineers and the occasional schoolteacher have been taking on the scheming financial overlords of the film industry.

Their tale will be told at the star-studded red carpet world premiere of Bonnywood Rising. Part melodrama, part Western, part historical epic and part complete fabrication, the film is a celebration of the ingenuity, the resilience, the spirit and the humour of the peoples west of the Range.

Bonnywood Rising imagines the cinematic history of the Bonalbo and District Memorial Hall, weaving a yarn that places the Bonalbo Hall at the centre of the largest Australian regional film corporation that you’ve never heard of.

The horse that stars in Bonnywood Rising.

The horse that stars in Bonnywood Rising.

It stars the unknown celebrities of the Bonalbo community and features live narration by Ewingar resident Alan Highfield whose dulcet tones will be familiar to some. Mr Highfield was the voice behind Charlie Goanna, Mr Wombat and Sybella Snake in The New Adventures of Blinky Bill.

The one-night-only, live cinema performance is produced by Southern Cross University Associate Professor and award-winning media artist Grayson Cooke, staff and students from the University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences, and Bonalbo resident, artist and 1st assistant director Marion Conrow.

Professor Cooke said his team had spent the past few months shooting the film and had involved close to 100 community members in the process.

Practising the narration and musical score: 12: narrator Alan Highfield (red shirt), film producer Associate Professor Grayson Cooke (green shirt), sound designer Michael Worthington (black shirt) and Amphibian band members guitarist Dr Barry Hill (left), drummer Rob Walsh (middle, seated) and keyboardist Dr Matt Hill (right).

Narrator Alan Highfield (at the microphone), film producer Associate Professor Grayson Cooke (green shirt), sound designer Michael Worthington (black shirt) and Amphibian band members guitarist Dr Barry Hill (left), drummer Rob Walsh (middle, seated) and keyboardist Dr Matt Hill (right).

“It’s been a fantastic experience so far. We’ve done science experiments in the hall, dressed up in historical costumes, and brought lawnmowers, a boxing troupe, working dogs and a horse into the hall, all in the name of creating some unforgettable images that celebrate the strength, diversity and humour of the town.

“The performance in December should be a knock-out as we bring all of the glamour of old Hollywood back to the Bonalbo and District Memorial Hall.”

Bonnywood Rising also features live music by post-rock band Amphibian, which includes Southern Cross University music lecturers, and brothers, Dr Matt Hill (keyboards) and Dr Barry Hill (guitarist). Drummer Rob Walsh is a SCU alumnus.

The sound design is by Michael Worthington, another SCU alumnus.

Bonnywood Rising is part of the Arts Northern Rivers project If These Halls Could Talk, a region-wide season of contemporary arts events being held in seven community halls across the Northern Rivers.

MOVIE EVENT

Bonnywood Rising premiere

10 December 2016

Practising the live narration and musical score for Bonnywood Rising in the music rooms at SCU.

Practising the live narration and musical score for Bonnywood Rising in the music rooms at SCU.

Bonalbo and District Memorial Hall

4 Koreelah Street, Bonalbo (next to the Patrick McNamee ANZAC Memorial)

Doors open 7pm | Canapes & bar

Show starts 8PM

Free event | All ages

RSVP:

info@artsnorthernrivers.com.au  Include name and number of tickets required.

Bookings can also be made at http://bit.ly/BonnywoodRising or ifthesehallscouldtalk.com.au/program

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