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