Man be­hind the reels recog­nised

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Kyle Evans

AF­TER 63 years of ser­vice, a Bowen man has been recog­nised along­side some big names in the film in­dus­try af­ter be­ing named Queens­land Cin­ema Pi­o­neer of the Year.

It will be a rare step into the spot­light for Sum­mer­gar­den Theatre owner Ben Deluca, who for the past 56 years has made his liv­ing be­hind the film reel, en­ter­tain­ing movie go­ers from around the country.

But it will be one the 81year-old will gladly take when he takes cen­tre stage in a special Brisbane cer­e­mony to be held later this year.

“I think it’s a great thing, a lot of these awards stay in the cities,” he said.

“Not that they don’t want to recog­nise ru­ral ar­eas, but be­cause of the prox­im­ity these awards tend to go to peo­ple in the cities. So it’s good to see one come to the country.”

The oc­ca­sion marks the first time such an award has been handed to a re­cip­i­ent from Bowen which has seen stars such as Ni­cole Kid­man, Hugh Jack­man and Baz Luhrmann pass through town. And one that came as a big sur­prise to the cin­ema owner, who ad­mits he’s not en­tirely sure how he was nom­i­nated but he has his sus­pi­cions.

“We are in a na­tional cin­ema pi­o­neers book­let that comes out a few times a year. A while back they fea­tured our cin­ema in the book as a stand-out. A lot of peo­ple took no­tice of it so it may have stemmed from there,” he said.

Founded in 1933, the Aus­tralian Cin­ema Pi­o­neers is a so­ci­ety ded­i­cated to the recog­ni­tion of peo­ple who have pro­vided 20 years or more of ser­vice to the in­dus­try.

Praised the re­gion over for its in­ti­mate vibe and re­gal au­then­tic­ity, Sum­mer­gar­den Theatre has been a favourite among lo­cals and tourists in the Whit­sun­days for gen­er­a­tions. Mr Deluca said the award was a tes­ta­ment to the hard work which had seen the theatre be­come the long­est run­ning cin­ema in Queens­land. “I love the peo­ple I en­ter­tain. The big thing in my life has been see­ing peo­ple walk out of this place happy,” he said.

“Be­ing the age I am, I’m still work­ing roughly 16 hours a day. They’re not hard hours but they’re con­sis­tent.”

PHOTO: KYLE EVANS

TOP HON­OUR: Af­ter 63 years of ser­vice to the Bowen Sum­mer­gar­den Ben Deluca has been named Queens­land Cin­ema Pi­o­neer of the Year.

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