Plaza Theatre hosts acclaimed documentary director and producer

Film maker Russell Kilbey, pictured left with horseman Luke Carlon during the making of his award-winning documentary, will lead a Q&A session on the film following a screening at Laurieton's Plaza Theatre on Saturday July 19.
Film maker Russell Kilbey, pictured left with horseman Luke Carlon during the making of his award-winning documentary, will lead a Q&A session on the film following a screening at Laurieton's Plaza Theatre on Saturday July 19.

FILM MAKER Russell Kilbey will be on hand to talk about his acclaimed documentary, The Man from Coxs River, following a special screening in Laurieton on Saturday July 19.

Plaza Theatre proprietor David McGowan has arranged for Kilbey, the film's director, and producer Amy Scully, to lead a Q&A session, immediately after the 2pm matinee screening. The session promises to provide a uniquely personal, behind the scenes view of this striking Australian-made film, as well as an intimate insight into the characters.

The documentary is Currently screening at the Plaza Theatre in Laurieton.

The documentary is Currently screening at the Plaza Theatre in Laurieton.

Asked who might enjoy the Q&A session, Kilbey quipped "anyone with an interest in Australian history, anyone who loves horses, anyone with a connection to the Australian bush, in fact anyone who is Australian."

The Man from Coxs River tells the true story of Luke Carlon, a young man who has a magical connection with the Coxs River and Burragorang Valley. The Carlon family has ridden horses in the valley since the 1820s and despite the difficult relationship between his family and National Parks, Luke agrees to help ranger Chris Banffy to move a wiley mob of brumbies.

The documentary recently won a National Trust heritage award, which had never been awarded to a film before.

"The award is a real honour and stamp of approval, and to me it says something important is happening up there on the screen," Kilbey said.

Visually beautiful, with some "edge of your saddle" moments as well as a dash of fun, The Man from Coxs River is Russell Kilbey's first feature-length documentary and took about three years to complete.

The idea for the project came from Luke's sister Sue who visited Kilbey at work, where he is a film-making teacher.

"She pitched the idea as something special, and the more we dug, the more we found out about Luke and his connection to the area, the more excited we got about the possibilities," Kilbey said.

Laurieton's Plaza Theatre is one of around 30 independent cinemas screening the documentary. Russell Kilbey and producer Amy Scully are travelling to a number of small, independent cinemas across NSW to talk about the film.

"I'm discovering a whole world of amazing little family and community owned cinemas around NSW - these lovely, quirky little places of historical significance run by people who care about the preservation of this art," Kilbey said.

"Cinema is a great place to bump into people and share an experience - to be taken on a journey to another world."

Kilbey describes The Man from Coxs River as a "dense and emotional film" and says talking about it immediately after the screening is rewarding for the audience, as well as himself.

"It's nice to meet the audience and share the back-story with them, and to listen to their stories too," he said, adding that the Q&A sessions to date have uncovered more about the how, why and what has happened since side to this true story.

Kilbey also explains how the name of the project changed along the way.

"Originally it was called 'Last Riders of the Burragorang', but no one seemed to be able to say it or remember it. It wasn't until I went on a three day horse odyssey with Luke up to visit his family plaque near Kanangra Walls on the Coxs River that I realised it actually was the perfect title for the film."

As well as telling Luke's story, The Man from Coxs River also deals with environmental issues and the wild horses or brumbies that inhabit Sydney's water catchment area.

"We seek only to record the story as we found it - people have differing opinions on the brumbies of the Burragorang," Kilbey said.

"We'll show them to you and you can make up your own mind."

For more information about session times for The Man from Coxs River or the Q&A session on July 19, go to www.plazatheatre.com.au or phone 6559 8755.

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