Two iconic local actors – Jack Thompson and Gary Sweet – will be inducted into the Australian Film Walk of Fame on Sunday just before their short film The Telegram Man is screened at the iconic Ritz Cinema.
The screen legends join other luminaries including Claudia Karvan, Steve Bisley, Michael Caton, Roy Billing and the late, great Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, who have also seen their ‘stars’ immortalised in the sidewalk.
It is the short film, The Telegram Man, screening as part of the Australian Film Festival, which brings the actors together on screen. In fact, it marks the first time Gary Sweet and Jack Thompson have shared the screen – “Gary was delighted,” jokes Thompson.
Apparently, Sweet’s father has spent most of his son’s career suggesting he “work with that Jack Thompson” – sound advice shared by co-star Sigrid Thornton who admits “Jack was a draw card”. (Thompson and Thornton also starred together in The Man From Snowy River.)
The moving film, about the man charged with telling families that their son or husband or brother or father would not be coming home from World War II, was produced and directed by James F. Khehtie.
In his fourth short film, the director/producer shot the sweeping landscapes of Windsor, NSW, in 35 mm Kodak film stock.
“It's designed for cinema,” says the director “its just a pity there’s no avenue for short films anymore.”
However, The Telegram Man has been luckier than most – included in the opening night of FlickerFest and the Byron Bay Film Festival – a success due in part to the impressive list of names Khehtie managed to attach to the privately funded project.
Based on the John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) short story American Farm ’44 – the film also included a long list of impressive advisers such as director Bruce Beresford, producer Anthony Buckley and critic David Stratton.
“Everyone was very generous,” acknowledges Khehtie.
Although the cast was more explicit about the filmmaker’s talents: “who can say no to James? He’s just overwhelming,” laughs Sweet.
Gary Sweet can next be seen in Movie Extra’s Small Time Gangster on April 19 and Jack Thompson is in talks to star in Sarah Spillane’s upcoming feature debut Around the Block, while Sigrid Thornton continues to promote the Australian film Face to Face on America’s festival circuit. A DVD release of The Telegram Man is planned for later in the year.