Lionel Rose doco to premiere at MIFF

By Simon de Bruyn

Director Eddie Martin has had his tenacity rewarded with his 80 minute upgrade of a shorter made-for-TV documentary on the life of Australian boxing legend Lionel Rose, set to screen at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

The doco, simply titled Lionel, will have its world premiere this Saturday 2 August at ACMI at 5pm. Lionel Rose and his family will be in attendance.

Martin told Inside Film that he was initially commissioned by SBS to deliver a 52 minute doco, but became interested in also doing a longer version after finding it impossible to squeeze all the important events of the champion Aboriginal boxer’s life into that time.

“His life was really well documented and there was all this archival footage we wanted to use. At 52 minutes, I felt we were ripping its heart out in a way, so in the end we got two films for the price of one. And the 80 minute version has turned out so well that we are now screening at MIFF,” he said.

He said SBS didn’t mind he was making a longer version, but it took a while to work out whether they would be able to screen it at festivals before its television broadcast. It’s since been picked up by Siren Visual for theatrical and DVD release.

Martin, who had some previous festival success with his first doco Jisoe, about a down and out graffiti artist, next wants to turn his hand to a feature film.

“It’s quite draining making docos as you are always asking something from people and taking from them in a sense, and intruding in their world. I want to have a crack at a feature drama and have a new learning experience,” he said.

Lionel screens twice during the festival.