UC Journalism Series: Q&A with Cris Kennedy

12th Oct 2016

*As part of an educational partnership with University of Canberra, CIFF will publish a selection of works by UC Journalism students focussing on this year’s festival. Special thanks to Bronwyn Watson from UC.

Q & A with Cris Kennedy

Bec Lawrence

This year, the Canberra International Film Festival will be screening one of Australia’s most loved films, Storm Boy. Storm Boy follows the narrative of a young boy who rescues three pelican chicks, one of which who he forms a special bond with. Recently the National Film and Sound Archive restored Storm Boy in preparation for the showing at the festival. Cris Kennedy, film enthusiast and Manager of Education and Engagement at the National Film and Sound Archive, shares his knowledge of the restoration of Storm Boy.

Q: Why do you think it is important to have the film Storm Boy restored?

A: There’s so much about Storm Boy that I think is really important. It’s a south Australian film from an Australian author, Colin Thiele. It was already a really important children’s book before it was made into a film. It was one of the early films in the 70’s that proved that Australia could have a viable local film industry and that Australians would pay money to go see Australian content.

Q: Tell me how the film restoration process is done?

A: There are two processes you can do, either an actual spool restoration of a film which is digitising the film frame by frame [or] a full restoration [which] includes going through scene by scene, frame by frame, amending the sound track and you will probably go back to the original source material. You may even go back to the original people who worked on the film and take their notes and have them work on that project with you. But that is really expensive – that’s kind of in the $70,000-$120,000 per film mark. We [National Film and Sound Archive] are generally doing digitisations which is just frame by frame digitising from the original and maybe a little colour tweaking where the film has faded over the years.

Q: This year the NSFA restored Storm Boy which will be showing at the Canberra International Film Festival. How many films does the National Film and Sound Archive restore per year?

A: We also have a program of digital restoration; we are working on a schedule of about 5 to ten films a year. That means of course we have to be selective. It is quite a slow process so quite often we outsource to other companies in Australia who do this work commercially and that helps us get through more feature film restorations.

Q: How long is the restoration process from start to finish?

A: I think we did Odd Angry Shot in three months but we did send it to a commercial studio outside so that’s how quickly we can turn one around. Sometimes it takes years even. It’s more than just our Chief Curator deciding that we are going to restore something and then we whack it in a machine and it’s done. There’s endless licensing and paperwork and permissions and if we are the ones restoring it, what happens afterwards?

Q: What audience will Storm Boy bring to the Canberra International Film Festival?

A: It will certainly bring an audience who strongly reminisce and identify with that film. They are people in their early forties to mid-fifties and they will be bringing their kids – a great way of introducing younger people to the film festival.


The 40th anniversary screening of Storm Boy is on 3.30pm, Sunday 30 October. Book here.