The Merger sells out Cinema
CLOUD 9 Cinema’s screening of The Merger was a sell out on Saturday night, with more than 60 people crowding in to watch the new Australian comedy about a country football team experiencing a revival thanks to newly arrived refugees.
Mingling with patrons before the screening was writer and lead actor Damian Callinan, who was in town as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival’s Travelling Showcase.
Mr Callinan originally wrote the story as a one-man theatre show, which he toured successfully around Australia, before adapting the show (and himself) to film – a process he explained to the audience in an intimate and entertaining question and answer session following the screening.
The film itself was heartwarming, heart-breaking, and unfailingly funny in turns.
It’s rare for rural Australians to see themselves portrayed so well on screen, but The Merger comes pretty close, and you got the sense the crowd at Bright knew Damian Callinan ‘got it.’
It wasn’t a story about small-minded country people, although that was part of it, and it wasn’t a story about an idyllic rural town, either. But it was real: the nicknames, the familiarity, the worries, even the silences.
At ease in crowd playing front of the himself, Mr Callinan spoke about how he conceived of the story and answered questions about the shooting of the film.
Most touchingly, he spoke about some of the personal successes and tragedies of the actors, who in some cases were refugees themselves, included actor Francis Kamara, a refugee from Sierra Leone’s civil war who arrived in Wagga when he was eight years old, and of Farhad Bandesh, who wrote some of the music for the film and is currently detained in a detention centre in Nauru.
The film was the highlight of the Travelling Showcase which included three other Australian films screened over the weekend.
RED CARPET: Damian Callinan in Bright at the weekend for the screening of his film The Merger.