Holding the Man
Holding the Man
International Narrative Feat.
(Australia, 2015, 127 min)
Directed By: Neil Armfield

Director Statement

I read Tim Conigrave's memoir soon after it was published in 1995. Miraculously, Tim had finished writing it on his deathbed in St Vincent's Hospital in 1994, with his friend and teacher Nick Enright helping him through. I knew Tim a little, but I knew Nick very well I had just made a television film of Nick's screenplay CORAL ISLAND - and I immediately tried to get the screen rights to Tim's fabulous book. They weren't available, and so I forgot about it. Seventeen years later Kylie du Fresne and Tommy Murphy asked if I would like to direct the film of HOLDING THE MAN, and I grabbed it. Not without some dread, I must say. There are huge responsibilities involved in taking on this story. To the power and popularity of the book. To Tim and John themselves, and their many friends alive today. But most of all to Tim's and John's families, still grieving their loss more than twenty years later: how difficult it must be for them to face the idea of their story becoming ever more public. In telling any story I find a high degree of identification is needed - I'm always digging in my own backyard - but this, more than others, feels utterly personal. I was born four years before Tim, we worked in the same industry, we had friends in common, we had come out to ourselves and then to our families at much the same time, we'd had much the same things said to us in response. But the courage that Tim Conigrave gathered in initiating this relationship at 16 with John Caleo, the determination with which he and John fought for justice and understanding in the face of the panic and grief of the AIDS pandemic, and the strength and dignity with which they both left this world, those things are utterly their own. And so our film is both intensely private and a kind of public memorial. I hope it's alive to its period without being enslaved by it. I hope that it's open to all the wit, desire, heartache, love and playfulness that Tim and John summoned in the fifteen years of their extraordinary life together. Above all, I hope this is an intimate film - I want us to breathe with the boys and feel that we share the air between them. So that, more than anything, we know what it was like. Neil Armfield, June 2015
Post-Screening Reception: DGA Atrium
Screening Schedule
Wed, Jul 13th 7:00pm

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