Cinema Pioneers salute Murray Forrest

Murray Forrest.

Murray Forrest has received the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers’ inaugural Humanitarian Award, recognising his long commitment to the Motion Picture Industry Benevolent Society (MPIBS).

The former head of film processing labs Atlab and Colorfilm, Forrest has served as chairman of the MPIBS, which financially supports industry people who have fallen on hard times, for 24 years.

Announcing the accolade at the society’s annual dinner on Thursday night, Pioneers national president Russell Anderson said the award recognizes outstanding and exceptional service to the cinema industry, in particular charity work, mentoring and community service.

Accepting the award, Forrest recalled meeting Sir Norman Rydge, chairman of Colorfilm’s parent the Greater Union Organisation, 55 years ago, a few months after he had joined the company.

Sir Norman informed the 22-year-old Forrest about the Cinema Pioneers (which he joined 25 years later, at the time the eligible period of service) and the MPIBS, where he became a councilor several years before being appointed chairman.

Sir Norman’s son Alan Rydge, Event Hospitality & Entertainment’s chairman, spent some time with Forrest at Colorfilm in the early part of his career while he was learning the ropes.

Rydge marvelled at Forrest’s ability to convince producers to use the lab and to work with directors and editors and thanked him for his help, guidance and life-long friendship.

Forrest retired in 2008 but said he never considered relinquishing his MPIBS role.

At the dinner the highest grossing Australian films of the year, Ride Like a Girl, Top End Wedding, Storm Boy and Palm Beach, were celebrated.

Ron Reynolds.

Ride Like a Girl cinematographer Martin McGrath paid tribute to the tenacity and commitment of director Rachel Griffiths and Teresa Palmer. He noted Palmer had never ridden a horse before she played Michelle Payne and drew laughs when he said the horse she was riding bolted one day and did a complete lap of the course. Teresa was miked and McGrath listened to the audio feed filled with expletives.

Goalpost Pictures’ Rosemary Blight thanked Miranda Tapsell for coming up with the idea of Top End Wedding and co-writing the script with Joshua Tyler.

Blight told the gathering a US deal for Wayne Blair’s romantic comedy has been signed and will be announced next week.

Storm Boy was repped by producer Matthew Street and director Shawn Seet while Heather Mitchell spoke on behalf of the Palm Beach ensemble cast.

Ron Reynolds was named National Cinema Pioneer of the year. He started his career aged 12 in his native Newcastle as a “lolly boy” at the Victoria/Lyric and Theatre Royal Newcastle, later becoming a projectionist and cinema manager in NSW, Queensland and Darwin.

Next January he will celebrate 75 years in the industry.