Special event: Canberra Premiere with Director

NFSAnews 5 June 2012

HOME BY CHRISTMAS Introduced by Director Gaylene Preston, followed by Q+A after the screening.


In the late 1980s New Zealand filmmaker Gaylene Preston began researching the lives of local NZ women during World War Two. She began with the stories she thought she knew best: those of her own parents. Although her focus was initially on the women’s war and would evolve into her acclaimed film War Stories, conversations with her father Ed increasingly made her aware of how little she knew of his experiences. A feature film companion to War Stories began to emerge; not the usual nostalgic fantasy of home front community life, but a memoir of the quotidian, private and sometimes humiliating experiences of being an ordinary soldier in wartime.

Home By Christmas’ impact is precisely the result of the modesty of its aims and of the life it recounts, as Ed begins his war as a raw recruit and ends it in the wretched conditions – and boredom – of a POW camp. Gaylene Preston herself is a moving presence, as a mostly off-camera interviewer (as is also Chelsie Preston-Crayford – the director’s daughter – as Ed’s young, wartime bride). But Home By Christmas’ lack of much exposure to Australian audiences is all the more shameful and undeserving because of its great, warm centre: iconic Australian actor Tony Barry as Preston’s elderly, understated but occasional still fiery father.

Dir: Gaylene Preston, NZ, 2010, 92 mins, 35mm, (unclassified 18+)

Sometimes one hears people wondering wistfully why New Zealand films are often stronger than Australia’s. I leave the question open, while strongly commending Gaylene Preston’s excellent Home by Christmas. The main actor is, however, one of our boys; Tony Barry gives a wonderful performance as the director’s father. (Sylvia Lawson)

Limited season 14–24 JUN

THU 14 JUN 2PM & 7PM – All tickets $5 at 2PM session. Max Pass holders FREE at 7PM session.

SAT 16 JUNE 7.30PM

SUN 17 JUN 4.30PM,


SUN 24 JUN 4.30PM

Details at nfsa.gov.au/arc

Enquiries ph 02 6248 2000

Bookings ph 02 6248 2000 or at the NFSA Box Office

Tickets $11/$9 concession

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