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Re-imagined Life Class director's cut to screen in Merimbula

After two difficult years of a global pandemic, a film about the power of art might seem a bit irrelevant - even if it was locally-made, and even if there are people you know up there on the screen.

Tom Cowan (right) shoots Life Class in Candelo during 2013/14. Picture: Jodie Dickinson

Tom Cowan (right) shoots Life Class in Candelo during 2013/14. Picture: Jodie Dickinson

However, the story of the making and now the dramatic re-making of this film is so inspirational that Life Class 1920 could turn out to be exactly what the whole world needs right now.

The film's real-life story begins in 2013, when respected Australian director Tom Cowan took over Candelo and Tilba and other Bega Valley towns to film a fictional story of how a war-damaged young Frenchman showed a small country town that there was more to life than they'd thought.

While Life Class was well received, Cowan wasn't satisfied with it.

"Audiences certainly enjoyed Life Class, but somehow it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be," he said.

Cowan said that during the editing he was coping with his own serious health issues, which compromised the qualities that he had wanted for the film.

After he recovered from lymphoma, he set about re-making the story, re-editing key scenes, adding new music, and much more, bringing a whole new context to the tale.

The result is Life Class 1920, a film so charming and engrossing that it has already taken out prizes at four major international festivals.

"It's been an amazing journey for me, and for the film," said Cowan, as he gets ready to present his re-cut work to the very people who were part of the making of the movie - residents of the Bega Valley.

Life Class features numerous Bega Valley faces (and places)

Life Class features numerous Bega Valley faces (and places)

"The original Life Class was about how art can inspire us out of the repetitive drudgery of ordinary life - and, lo and behold, that was exactly what happened to me with my illness and then my re-imagining of this film.

"It's the most extraordinary of coincidences," he said with a smile.

"I was really ill, but I recovered, and I was somehow able to look again at what I had done, and I just knew what it would take to make it so much more powerful. It's a lesson for everyone."

Audiences liked the original movie, but according to Cowan, Life Class 1920 operates in a different dimension.

"It's more involving, more convincing, more fun," he said.

"It's got more of that cinematic magic."

The film explores the power of art as inspiration and a healer.

The film explores the power of art as inspiration and a healer.

Cowan was looking forward to meeting again some of the people who he filmed eight years ago.

"With COVID, we've all been through a lot since those days when we had the cameras and the lights here," he said.

"I'm hoping that this re-cut version of my film will do more than just bring back memories of those weeks, and that the new film will inspire us to live better and fuller lives, which was exactly what the original story was about."

Tickets for the screening at 7pm Monday, December 13, are available from the Picture Show Man cinema at Merimbula (6495 3744).

Cowan will present his "director's cut" and host a Q&A afterwards. He said he was looking forward to meeting once again all the people who helped him make it.

This story Re-imagined Life Class director's cut to screen in Merimbula first appeared on Bega District News.