Saturday, July 20, 2024

Jon Bell’s first feature film hits the big screen

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Casino filmmaker Jon Bell has had a huge year with his first feature film The Moogai.

In January, it was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, United States.

The Moogai is an Australian horror film showing the ongoing trauma of the Stolen Generations through a bogeyman terrorising a family.

This month the film screened for the first time in Australia at the Sydney Film Festival.

Jon’s wife Mary Torrens-Bell is thrilled for her husband.

“I am so proud of my husband whose first feature film hit the cinemas for the first time in Australia,” Mary said.

“He’s the most stubborn man I ever met, never gives up and even though people have deliberately tried to derail him, he gets back on the horse.

“The film has been to Sundance in Utah, SXSW in Texas, Otaki in Aotearoa and last night it was on his great, great, great grandfather’s land – Gadigal country.”

Jon’s granddaughters joined him on the red carpet in Sydney.

Our granddaughters had speaking roles in the film, Mary said.

“I’m so proud of them I could burst.”

The Moogai will be released in cinemas around Australia in November.

Reporter Lucy Spicer interviewed Jon before the Sundance Film Festival.

Here are some of the questions she asked him.

What was the biggest inspiration behind the film?

Telling the stories of my people to a global audience.

Describe who you want this film to reach.

Native peoples around the world.

Why does this story need to be told now?

Because generational power is in a transitional phase, and younger audiences are open to this kind of film.

Your favourite part of making the film? Memories from the process?

Seeing the first assembly — it was the first time I relaxed because I knew that we had at least gotten a cohesive story on film. The rest could go from there, but there was, at the very minimum, a story. The relief was palpable.

Tell us why and how you got into filmmaking.

Star Wars when I was 5, and I was hooked from there.

Why is filmmaking important to you? Why is it important to the world?

It’s wondrous. Filmmaking feels like the culmination of so many art forms. Every department is filled with incredible artists; seeing people do what they do often feels like magic to me. It’s important to the world because it connects us — we all have our own unique worldview, but we can all connect to a great film.

Read the full interview here.

This article appeared on on 13 June 2024.


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