Last night, AccessReel was at the Luna Cinemas in Leederville, for a pre-season screening of a new film directed by Ben Elton
You know Ben Elton. As our friend Wikky Pedia might remind you–he is an English comedian, author, playwright, actor and director. He has written notable television series such as The Young Ones and Blackadder. He started out doing left-wing political satire, but now has a diverse career that covers novel and play writing. He still goes to the left politically.
If you’re from Western Australia, you’ll know he married a well-known local musician and has been seen about these parts regularly, ever since. Now he has made a comedy film with strong musical connections, set in Western Australia.
THREE SUMMERS is–on the surface–a light-hearted musical comedic romp. Dig a little and you’ll see a slew of political ideas suggested; concerning indigenous Australians and modern attitudes to immigration.
Elton wrote the film inspired by attending W.A.’s Fairbridge Festival. It is his second feature film as director. Among the cast are Kelton Pell, Michael Caton, Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman, Peter Rowsthorn and Jacqueline McKenzie. It is officially released onto Australia screens this coming November. We will review it at its official launch.
Until then, AccessReel would like you to enjoy the transcript of Ben Elton’s heartfelt introduction to his movie at a Perth premiere for cast, crew and media last night. For those familiar with his stand up, the rhythms and the feel was certainly familiar and at times, very funny. (We’d also like to apologise at our artistically questionable decision to photograph Mr Elton with our smartphone, as seen above.)
Please enjoy Ben Elton’s introduction to his feature Three Summers.
It’s a very exciting night for me to be here in my home town (audience laughs) doing our first, first Perth gig. (audience claps) The most special night on the movie, no matter how well it does, no matter how many wonderful nights we have, was the first night–the eve of the shoot–when so many of the members of the Noongar community welcomed us.
Oh, my goodness, were we included that night! We were invited by part of the crew, to attend the fire ceremony, there were many Noongar members of the crew, I was privileged to be part of the fire ceremony. (Elton laughs) It’s bloody difficult making fire with sticks, I can tell you. We made a fire. And I’m not a particularly spiritual person. But the spirituality of that night was extraordinary. We felt so special as the smoke surrounded us, of the fire that we made, and we all danced. And the didjeridoo was playing under this big West Australian sky. We all danced and heard these ancient sounds on land where stories had been told for fifty-thousand years and you can imagine how I felt as an Australian, because my Australian story, like all Australian stories is unique to me. Individual.
I’m the son of a refugee, my father was a refugee from Nazi Germany. He arrived in Britain in 1939 with his family; they were alone, they were traumatised, they were penniless. They had left the Wehrmacht behind them. It was an extraordinary thing. That spirit of my father as a refugee boy, you will see reflected, at least in part, in the heart of this film.
And then there’s me, I’m an incomer, too. I came to Australia–although my immigration story is a little happier than my father’s. (audience laughs) I arrived business class with Rik Mayall and on the first day I arrived, I met the most beautiful woman in the world and I ended up marrying her, so it’s quite a nice story…(big audience laugh)
Nonetheless, that’s the start of my Australian journey. I’ll just take a political moment, I won’t bore you very long and speak about the trade union movement in Australia. The trade union movement, gets a lot of shit at the moment, but actually, every single workplace protection that anyone is privileged to have, is a result of trade union agitation, but also, I owe them my happiness. I have a very special investment in the Australian trade union movement because I owe to them my domestic happiness and my three children.
Back in those days, they were so powerful that they insisted on two Aussies to every Pom. So when me and Rik Mayall arrived, we were told we had to have four Australians on the bill with us–four Aussies. But by some wonderful twist of fate, the locals booked an all-girl-band from Fremantle and I married the bass-player. (audience laughs) How weird is that, y’know? I met Sophie and my Australian journey began. And here I am, thirty years later, telling Australian stories.
I proudly feel, I have earned that right. My first Australian story was (the novel) STARK. I wrote it in Fremantle in 1988. That was about a Pom looking in. That was about a Pom who had arrived five-minutes ago and registered an Australia he never expected. Now, it’s thirty years and I’m telling some Australian stories from an Aussie looking out.
I hope you appreciate the stories that are told in this film. It’s told with heart. This is a big Summer shake up. A summer of division and derision . A Summer where we’re being asked to vote on the civil and human rights of our fellow Australians. What the hell is going on there? That’s a mind-f*ck. (audience laughs)
A Summer where indigenous recognition seems as controversial–weirdly–as it ever has been. How that happens, we don’t know. The Summer of Trump. The Summer of Brexit. The Summer of God-Knows-What–we don’t know. This movie is not going to solve any of that. (audience laughs) But it’s not going to do any harm either. So I hope you enjoy Three Summers and it’s a very special night for me. (audience claps and cheers)