A film that has showcased Newcastle to the world will have its homecoming screening in May.
Independent filmmaker Stuart McBratney’s Pop-Up received four awards from 18 film festivals in 12 countries, but has only been shown in the Hunter in a rough cut preview screening in 2015.
McBratney will bring the film, shot in locations including Newcastle Beach, the Fernleigh Tunnel and King Edward Park, to The Regal Cinema on May 11 and answer questions afterwards.
“The best thing for me about attending festivals all over the world was to see the audience appreciate it brand new,” he said. “I knew what was going to happen at every moment - every footstep, every line of dialogue.
“But to experience it vicariously through fresh eyes is fun. It’s always a thrill to sit there with an audience and have them react positively. My favourite thing is talking to people afterwards who interpret it in their own way, to hear them find connections I didn’t think about.”
He used crowd-funding to bankroll the film, which credits more than 250 mostly Novocastrians, but this doesn't include the more than 100 who donated their time as extras.
A rough cut of the final version was shown in Newcastle, Bucharest and The Bronx before its world premiere in May last year at Hollywood’s Dances With Films festival, where it took home a Grand Jury Award honourable mention in the competition features category. It has since screened across the globe and picked up the best narrative feature category at the Cebu International Film Festival in August, the best feature film category at London's Crystal Palace International Film Festival in November and the Carmichael Award for Exceptional Storytelling at the Barbados Independent Film Festival in January.
“I did not want to make a film about a solely Australian experience, I tried to make a very human story about three main characters who are tested in a big way and they have to find some inner strength to emerge from that and survive and prosper,” McBratney said. “Each character comes out of the experience reborn.
“Being able to physically hold the awards proves the hypothesis that… it would resonate and people would feel something, even if they didn’t speak the same language and needed subtitles.”
McBratney said Newcastle made an impression on international audiences and he’d received comments about its beauty and beaches.
He has since signed to a Los Angeles based agent, sales agent and entertainment lawyer. The sales agent is tasked with selling the film to international buyers, of which the first is a Chinese distributor.