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I was five years old when I fell in love with cinema. We were watching Pinocchio in an old theatre, crowded and noisy with parents and kids. I had a Heart ice-cream clenched in one hand – a grown-up’s ice-cream, a special treat. As the story unfolded, I felt sad, then scared, happy. So many feelings! The emotions were hard, and also thrilling. It was magical.
I was an aspiring film-maker in the early 90s when I first attended Sydney film festival. Initially, it was just one more thing to wedge into the chaos of my life. End-of-semester deadlines were looming and sometimes I’d dash to a session, then rush back to uni to edit a film. But I loved it – being in a crowd of fellow cinephiles, the applause at the end of films, the excitement of discovery. Days spent throwing off your life, forgetting everything and seeing the world through different eyes.
I was hooked. It was the beginning of an annual ritual, which continued at the Melbourne international film festival after I made Melbourne home.
My short films travelled to festivals around the world and I followed them to Germany and Bulgaria. In Sofia, I stood on stage with an interpreter, a fascination all the way from Australia. After the screening, a young man approached me outside the cinema and said, “Your film. It … ” He searched for the English words, then made a fist and pressed it to his heart.
I gave up the film-making dream. I loved the ideas and writing, and weaving it all together in post-production, but shoots were fraught for an introvert with social anxiety. It was like a bad dream where I’m naked in public with nowhere to hide while people keep asking for directions. I didn’t want to spend my life facing my fears.
The annual festival chaos continued. If I left my office job early, I could squeeze in three films in one night, rushing between venues.
Then 16 years ago I was forced to slow down. I started experiencing crushing fatigue and constant viruses. I’d wake up each morning exhausted and in pain, like I’d run a marathon in my sleep. My legs felt like I was wading through honey. Sometimes I had trouble following conversations and instructions or absorbing what I read.
Read more at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/06/when-life-shattered-all-my-dreams-the-magic-of-cinema-held-me-aloft