If there’s anyone best suited to tell a story about the healing power of art, it would be filmmaker Tom Cowan.
The veteran director was in Batemans Bay at the weekend for screenings of his latest film Life Class and the accompanying art exhibition. The exhibition toured in conjunction with the movie and showcased the works of a dozen artists who prepared pairings for use as props.
The film will now be shown for the next Narooma Film Society night on Thursday, December 1 at 6.30pm. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Mr Cowan who shot the movie around Bega, Candelo and Rocky Hall.
Speaking to the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner, Mr Cowan revealed the film served a special purpose during a recent health battle.
“I had cancer during the making of (the film),” Mr Cowan said. “In a way, this film has healed me. To finish (the film) and see it working so wonderfully with the audience and people enjoying it, is terrific.”
Life Class, set in 1920s regional Australia, follows the story of a French artist who escapes the horrors of World War I to set up a life art class, and a farm girl who volunteers to be his model.
Mr Cowan said he conceived the idea for the film 30 years ago, but it wasn’t until an experience in Rocky Hall (south-west of Bega) more recently that the final spark of inspiration came.
“I was down there working on a friend’s property and I was looking at the bush and thinking, ‘it’s just so beautiful’,” he said. “(I thought) it would be great to see a group of people here just absorbing the bush and how it changes you. I put it together with a life class.”
Mr Cowan described the film as a love story that dealt with darker issues, such as the effects of World War I, through the healing power of art.
Producer Anelia Bozinovska said more than 80 per cent of the cast and crew hailed from the Bega Valley.
“All the people were familiar with each other; it was like walking into a community, Ms Bozinovska said. “We were just welcomed into the circle. It was lovely.”
Despite the difficulties of producing a feature film while battling cancer, Tom Cowan said it was the communal effort of the locally-sourced cast and crew that brought the project together.
“I’ve been making films for 50 years and I had such a good time making the movie,” he said. “It was a joy.”