Janine Hosking’s feature documentary The Eulogy, which follows conductor and music educator Richard Gill as he unravels the truths and myths behind the life and career of concert pianist and composer Geoffrey Tozer, opened in 15 cinemas last weekend.
While the 4-day total was a modest $34,000 including previews and festival screenings, the producers and distributor Madman Entertainment are hoping the film will have a decent run thanks to Paul Keating, strong word of mouth and an AACTA nomination for Best Documentary.
The former Prime Minister – who features in the doc – will participate in an in-conversation screening at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace in Cremorne on October 23.
As a 14-year-old prodigy, Tozer was the youngest ever semi-finalist at the Leeds Piano Competition. As an adult he continued to perform in Australia and internationally but for a career that promised and delivered much, his end was shocking. He died in 2009, aged 54.
At his memorial service Keating delivered a searing eulogy, painting a haunting picture of a lonely genius shunned by the Australian musical establishment during the last years of his life.
“We always knew this film would be a slow burn,” Trish Lake, who produced with Katey Grusovin and Hosking, tells IF. “We are hoping exhibitors will show an act of faith by hanging in there and that others who were considering screening it will be encouraged to do so.
”Madman and their marketing team are supporting the film very well and we have had a string of very good reviews in the past week, most of them 4 stars.
“So many people want to see the film because of their high regard and affection for Richard, who helped to weave this wonderful story together in his inimitable style, interrogating Paul Keating’s eulogy.”
Lake will be talking up the film when she meets with exhibitors at next week’s Australian International Movie Convention while Hosking and Grusovin are willing to attend Q&A screenings or participate via Skype for exhibitors outside metropolitan Sydney.
The international sales agent, Paul Hudson’s C International, whom the producers met at the MIFF 37ºSouth Market, put up a healthy advance and will look to sign deals after the launch at an upcoming international film festival.
The film won the $50,000 bi-annual David and Joan Williams Documentary Fellowship, which the producers used to pay for the rights to use ABC archival footage.
The ABC has offered to screen a one hour version but Lake wants the broadcaster to show the full length feature.
The Eulogy was produced with the support of the MIFF Premiere Fund, Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, Film Victoria, Create NSW, Madman, Cutting Edge and Fifty Fifty Films.