A LOCALLY-MADE film that evolved from a home movie archive will have its world premiere at the prestigious Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) on Friday night.
A multi-layered documentary focusing on the life of Tower Hill photographer Richard Crawley, Volcano Man will have primetime billing at Melbourne's Forum Theatre on the festival's opening night.
The film will also screen at Warrnambool's Capitol Cinema on Saturday, August 13 as part of the festival's two-week regional program.
The movie has received widespread media attention in the lead-up to the festival, including national radio, newspaper and online coverage.
For the man at the heart of the movie, it's a surprising outcome for what began as a home movie chronicle of his young family.
British-born Crawley had made a name for himself as a rock music photographer when he, wife Carol and young son James made the sea change from Melbourne to Killarney, and later Tower Hill, in the early 1990s.
When Carol died in 2009, the grief-stricken Crawley turned the camera on himself, capturing and channelling his raw emotions on film.
Ten years and more than 100 hours of archival footage later, Crawley gave James, now an award-winning filmmaker, carte blanche to use the footage.
With input from some of the industry's biggest names, James pieced together archival and current footage, photographs, interviews and a rock 'n' roll soundtrack to create the 84-minute documentary.
Volcano Man is the first feature film for James, who heads up Sydney-based digital advertising agency Common Ventures. As well as directing and co-writing, he also appears in and narrates the film.
He was assisted by co-producers Good Thing Productions and the well-credentialled Tim Russell, along with Emmy award-winning feature drama and documentary editor Steve Sander who is currently based in Warrnambool.
According to Crawley, the documentary is an authentic story of "loss, love, grief, music, photography and living in the south-west" and one that he believes audiences will be deeply affected by.
"It's an emotionally strong film," he says. "There's no acting going on. There's a lot in it, lots of ups and downs and very thought-provoking."
Volcano Man is a deeply personal story for both father and son, how they cope with their grief and the impact on their own relationship.
As uncomfortable as it is, Crawley says the film sends an important mental health message about the importance of talking about death and grief.
"In general, we don't deal with grief very well. We tend to shy away from it, but I think if anything, the message would be that it's good to get it out in the open and talk about these things."
On the lighter side, Crawley says the film is also one of hope, humour and finding new purpose
"As well as being serious, it's also funny and then of course there's the music."
Volcano Man will also screen at Melbourne's Kino Cinema on August 11, Pentridge Cinema on August 21 and other regional venues including Geelong, Bendigo and Castlemaine.
Bookings for the Warrnambool screening should be made at the Capitol Cinema or through the MIFF website.
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