Burb busters

• Lowest to Highest is showing at the Fremantle Suburban Film Festival.

A FEW decades ago there were cinemas in most suburbs and you could walk down the street to watch Jaws or E.T.

But the Internet and huge wide-screen TV’s have seen local cinemas go down the gurgler, and now you have to  drive to a soulless multiplex, attached to some soulless shopping mall, to watch a soulless sequel like Transformers 12: the exhaust pipe wars.

So film buff Alex Marshall came up with the ‘Fremantle Suburban Film Festival’, in a bid to make movies more accessible to locals again.

Horrific injuries

Over four nights in May, five inspiring travel adventure films will be screened at suburban venues like town halls and PCYCs in White Gum Valley, Samson, Hilton and North Fremantle.

Audiences will get to enjoy the extraordinary story of British climber and mountaineer Paul Pritchard in Doing It Scared, at the Sullivan Hall on May 17.

In 1998 Mr Pritchard was climbing a “totem pole” sea cliff in Tasmania, when a rock fell onto his head and he suffered horrific injuries.

The accident left him with little movement in the right side of his body, but 18 years later Mr Pritchard decided to re-climb the cliff where he nearly died.

“He should’ve died” says Mr Marshall. “By the time he got to the hospital he’d lost half of his blood. They said he’d never walk or speak again. He’s really an inspirational guy.”

“Being disabled doesn’t mean your unable” Mr Pritchard says. “Everyone, disabled or not, is capable of extraordinary things.”

Lowest to Highest, showing at Sullivan Hall on the same night, follows the story of five friends with disabilities who attempt to cycle from Australia’s lowest point, Kati Chanda-Lake Eyre, to the highest, Mount Kosciuszko.

The cycling team includes Walter Van Praag, who has only 35 per cent lung function, paraplegic Daniel Kojta, and Conrad Wansbrough, who has debilitating spinal injuries.

Mr Pritchard is also in the peloton, along with mate Duncan Meerding, who has only five per cent vision.

The film features some of Australia’s most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes, ranging from desert to snow.

Mr Marshall hopes the hand-picked films will spark interesting conversations in the community.

“The community is made up of all different kinds of people and I think in the age of social media echo chamber, getting out to your local hall, meeting people who live close by, seeing inspiring independent travel films, well, it might start a whole new conversation.

“People have got used to the idea that what takes place in a community hall isn’t great but it absolutely can be.

“It can be something that you can’t see anywhere else.”

Tickets for the film festival (May 10-31) are free, but have to be booked at http://www.trybooking.com/BCEII as venues are likely to fill up fast.

by CHARLIE BRAY

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