There’s a new flick that’s just been released down south at the class-infused Sorrento Athenaeum Cinema on Ocean Beach Rd, and if you’re up for a laugh — plus a few tears and home truths served up along the way — then this is for you.
The Merger is based on comedian Damian Callinan’s critically acclaimed one-man show he wrote about 10 years ago and which basically goes like this: former professional football player Troy Carrington returns to his old almost dead in the water country town called Bodgy Creek and is convinced into coaching the local and very lost in transit footy team.
Damian explains. “There’s lots of things at play in The Merger. I wrote this a decade ago and we are still dealing with the same refugee issues. Sure, the film is about footy, but it’s also about acceptance and rejection and how things go bad quickly. But they can turn around just as quickly too. We had guys from Northern Iraq on the set, while the soundtrack was created by refugees. Many of them are now training to be actors. Their stories are real. It’s fantastic to release it on the big screen after performing it live as a solo show for so long. It was also fun to work collaboratively for a change.”
Damian is well known for his singular comic relief and theatrical and televisual status. He is currently touring and dancing in Swing Man, which he “gave birth to without a midwife”, and has been performing for about 20 years. This Melbourne-based actor, comedian and writer who plays local footy with singer-songwriter Paul Kelly and actor, writer and musician Tim Rogers loves that The Merger is being released on the Peninsula. “My sister has a house in Sorrento and I still remember being let into that cinema one night just before close. There was no one else around and the guy kept it open just for me.”
The Merger stars Damian alongside Penny Cook (A Country Practice), John Howard (Mad Max, Sea Change) and Kate Mulvany (The Great Gatsby) plus a treasure trove of refugee performers. It’s funny, clever and hits the mark on what it means to be Australian. It’s on limited release from August 30.