(L-R) Katey Grusovin, Claire Gill (Richard Gill’s daughter), Kim Williams and Janine Hosking.
The $50,000 bi-annual David and Joan Williams Documentary Fellowship has been awarded to the feature documentary The Eulogy and its creative team – director Janine Hosking and the producers, Katey Grusovin, Trish Lake and Hosking.
Presenting the award at the world premiere on Sunday at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre, Kim Williams hailed the film as a “fine, eloquent testament to a tragically misunderstood talent of immense proportion who had a fascinating life and largely forgotten career with many remarkable elements.”
The film follows conductor and music educator Richard Gill as he embarks on a journey to rediscover the lost legacy of concert pianist and composer Geoffrey Tozer – and to find out what went wrong.
As a 14-year-old child 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 so much, his end was shocking. He died in 2009, aged 54.
Gill begins at the at the Tozer estate archive which contains thousands of drawings, photographs, letters and diaries documenting every aspect of his tumultuous life. Along the way, Gill meets with members of Tozer’s family, inner circle and musical colleagues who provide revealing, previously un-earthed insights into his life and loves.
The film is woven around Paul Keating’s eulogy to Tozer, which he agreed to re-stage at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, especially for the film.
Williams said: “The film overwhelmingly recommended itself due to the authoritative process of discovery and wonder revealed by the film’s guide, my oldest and best friend Richard Gill and the riveting appearance by Paul Keating – the most musically literate of all Prime Ministers and Treasurers.
“Janine, Katey and Trish have produced a remarkably confident and sensitive work which is in many ways revelatory, making it an irresistible awardee for the Fellowship; indeed, I know my parents would have loved this film dearly.”
The Williams Fellowship was established by Williams, the former News Corp Australia, Foxtel and Fox Studios Australia CEO in 2010 to commemorate his parents (Joan died in 2008, David in 2009) and their love of film and involvement in Australian cinema.
Previous recipients are Erica Glynn, Al Hicks, Jennifer Peedom, Juliet Lamont, Lynette Wallworth and Matthew Bate. The Documentary Australia Foundation manages the Fellowship which rewards creative ambition, intellectual rigor and innovation in Australian documentary.
The Eulogy was produced with the support of the MIFF Premiere Fund, Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, Film Victoria and Create NSW and its distributor Madman Entertainment.
Grusovin said: “The financial assistance provided by Kim has enabled us to significantly add to the overall production values of the film. A lovely way to reach the finishing line.”
Lake added: “This award encourages us as filmmakers to take The Eulogy to as wide an audience as possible to share Geoffrey Tozer’s powerful legacy. It’s a film that shines a light on how critical public funding is to support classical music in Australia.”
There will be further MIFF screenings on August 14 and 15; the film is also part of the MIFF travelling showcase which hits the road from September to November with a series of weekend programs across regional Victoria.