The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) will host the ACT premiere of Dr Plonk as part of the celebrations surrounding the launch of Arc, the NFSA's new state-of-the-art cinema, on Tuesday 7 August.
The new silent comedy by director Rolf de Heer tells the story of Dr Plonk (Nigel Lunghi), a famous scientist and inventor who calculates in 1907 that the world will end in 101 years unless immediate action is taken. As befalls visionaries through the ages, Plonk is ridiculed for his beliefs by everyone including his faithful manservant, the deaf-mute Paulus (Paul Blackwell). Proof is required and the only acceptable proof lies in the very future that's ending. Being a lateral thinker, Plonk invents a time machine and in quick succession Tiberius the dog, Plonk, Paulus and Mrs Plonk (Magda Szubanski) all visit the future. Not everyone returns but all find 2007 a somewhat different place than they had expected.
The Arc gala opening night screening of Dr Plonk will feature live musical accompaniment by the Stiletto Sisters, a Melbourne-based trio comprised of piano accordionist Judy Gunson, double bassist Jo To and guest violinist Atilla Kuti. Pianist Samantha White will join the trio to play Graham Tardif's score for the film live for only the second time in Australia. Rolf de Heer and Magda Szubanski will join the Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator George Brandis at Arc's launch.
"The NFSA is thrilled Dr Plonk will launch Arc," said David Boden, Head of the NFSA's Access and Outreach Branch. "Dr Plonk combines the use of a hand-cranked camera with 21st century post-production techniques to create an old-style black and white silent film for contemporary audiences. There is no more appropriate film to open Arc - a venue dedicated to screening the best of world cinema, from its 19th century beginnings to its 21st century possibilities."
"When I opened my office fridge in 2005 and discovered 20,000 feet of unexposed old film stock, I knew that I had to make an old-style silent film and hey presto - Dr Plonk was born," said writer, director and producer Rolf de Heer. "Discovering how to bring my dream of making a silent film to life has been a long and interesting journey. I am delighted that Dr Plonk will open Arc and help the NFSA celebrate the realisation of their long-held dream of having an archival quality cinema."
Footage from the NFSA's collection has been used in Dr Plonk and the Dr Plonk time machine is exhibited within the NFSA's recently upgraded Sights and Sounds exhibition that tells the story of Australia's film and sound history.
Tickets for the opening night screening and party are selling fast. They are available for purchase by the public at $50 by calling 02 6248 2000.
From 9 August, Arc will be running three public screenings a week - on Thursday evenings at 7:30pm and on Saturdays at 4:30pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are $9.50 or $8 for seniors, students and children. Special 'Max' passes are also available offering 10 tickets for just $70. For more information, a full program and details of the many other things to enjoy at the NFSA see the NFSA website.
David Boden and Rolf de Heer are available for interview.