SUE JACKSON Therapist | Writer | Photographer | Activist

An avid blogger for the last fifteen years, I believe in the power of the word to change the world. I have participated in, and reported on, a range of protests during this period, including the successful East-West Link campaign and, more recently, our wonderful, home-grown Extinction Rebellion (XR). If you believe, like I do, that it is time for ordinary people to rise up in defence of the planet, I encourage you to explore this blog, share it with your networks, and – of course – take action.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Down the Melbourne International Film Festival rabbit hole

Contented Cuban cow

As usual, the end of July and beginning of August in icy Melbourne finds me doing one of the things I love best - disappearing, like Alice, down the Melbourne International Film Festival rabbit hole. There I spend days at a time, sitting in the dark, visiting places that fascinate or appal me without ever having to leave my seat. And just like Alice, I get to experience lives very different from my own in faraway places.
The first morning I spent time in southern England with Stephen Hook, the Moo Man of the film's title, who as a small dairy farmer is truly hooked on cows. By the film's end so was I. His happy, non-stressed healthy-looking cows reminded me of the ones, like the lady above, that we met in the urban farms of Cuba. With zero prosletysing, the film manages to make a powerful case for the valour and right-mindedness of small farmers everywhere and the value of raw, organic non-homogenised milk. Way to go Farmer Hook!
Next I moved on to a very different country, which went unnamed but evoked Afghanistan. In The Patience Stone a beautiful young woman (played by the brilliant exiled Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani ) tends to her comatose husband in a war-torn village. Sitting next to him day after day, she tells him more and more of the secrets that she had never been able to share with him in their ten years of marriage. As she does so, you get a vivid picture of the country's culture and of the restricted lives of women within it. It's a gripping tale with a shock ending.
My next stop was Chile where I saw Gloria, a film about a divorcee in her late 50s. The film showcases the talented Paulina Garcia, who attended the theatre for a Q&A session afterwards. Gloria is a great character, who grapples with her adult children and the complexities of their lives, a reunion with her ex-husband, living alone and searching for love and sex. The film's unblinking depiction of sexual relationships in later life is great. And as a dancer myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the delight and release Gloria experienced on the dance floor.
Finally, I landed in the USA during the weeks building up to the Occupy movement in 2011. I loved 99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film because it is a tribute to people power everywhere and a rousing call to action.
I remember one of the messages emphasised at Byron Bay's Economics of Happiness Conference was that we should start by putting our energy into local action. If we all do that, there will be huge changes across the globe.
This Friday, as on every Friday throughout August, on behalf of the TRAINS NOT TOLLROADS movement, we will be protesting for increased public transport at our local freeway exit.

Congested exit ramp of Eastern Freeway 

You'll spot us easily. We'll be under banners in Alexandra Parade from 7am onwards. If you're in your car make sure you 'Toot for Trains'. Or better still, ditch your car and come and join us.
Just like Lewis Carroll did for Alice, MIFF gives me the chance to explore new worlds, before I end up back where I belong - in my own neighbourhood.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Aireys Inlet: pub, parmas, poetry, Perlman, police and pulchritude

The Grand Ole Dame: Airey's Inlet Pub

Our weekend away for R and R had everything. But no matter where we roamed, we kept finding ourselves back at the hub, or should I say the pub, and a grand old one she is. First built on the spectacular Great Ocean Road in 1904, the Airey's Inlet pub was razed during the bushfires of 1983. It was totally rebuilt but then shut down again in 2011. Recently it has reopened in style after a consortium of local residents decided the town isn't the same without her.
Last weekend the pub provided us with parmas, wonderful views of the ocean and the Otways in the distance, a roaring open fire in its sheep-sized original fireplace. And culture to boot.

Poetic trio

On Saturday afternoon, local poets Amanda Johnson, Antony Lynch and Brendan Ryan read their poetry to a small group of enthusiasts. Their task wasn't an easy one as the venue was adjacent to the kitchen, where it sounded as if there was a cutlery war being waged. Obviously made of stern stuff, the poets managed to carry on regardless. Which was a blessing, as even this non-poet could appreciate that some of their poetry was very fine. The poetry reading, I should mention, was merely the supporting act. The main attraction was to be an interview with the internationally renowned Melbourne writer, Elliot Perlman.

Elliot Perlman

I want to say that the interview was great, because I love Perlman's politics and his commitment to introducing some of the unspoken and unpopular big issues into the public domain via his fiction. I'm not sure if the session just wasn't pitched correctly for me. The interviewer assumed audience members had no prior knowledge of the writer and avoided any probing questions, so that while I found Perlman charming, I came away with nothing controversial or challenging to mull over.
But I certainly got challenged on the way back to our 'home' - Surf Coast Cabins - our peaceful bush retreat.

View from our cabin's doorway - see what I mean by peaceful?

Mere metres from the pub, driving along the unfamiliar windy dark highway, I noticed a police car with flashing lights trailing me. Panicking, I missed the turn into our access road and wobbled back on to the main drag. The policeman, drawing the obvious conclusion, turned on his siren, and clammy-palmed I pulled over to the side of the road. He was very nice and after checking my license and breathalysing me sent us on our way. But I didn't stop hyperventilating until the lock of our cabin door clicked behind us.
Despite that, I'd return to Airey's in a flash. The beauty of the bush and the sea are the perfect tonic for all human and writerly ills.

The surf meeting the turf

I look forward to many return visits to Airey's and its great old pub.