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COO-EE

Australia, 1987 (MIFF 1988, Documentary)

Director: Graham Chase

In 1915 a group of men from the small town of Gilgandra in mid west NSW organised a march to Sydney, 550km away, recruiting volunteers enroute to sign up and fight for their country at Gallipoli. This novel campaign was a great success with 263 volunteers arriving in Sydney, in what became known as the 'Coo-ee March'

In 1987, residents of Gilgandra organised a re-enactment of the Coo-ee March that bad, momentarily, put their town on the map m 1915.

Graham Chase and his crew from Film Australia were there from the planning stage and followed this curious collection of characters all the way to their dismal, damp arrival at Sydney Town Hall, three weeks later There are actually 2 films lurking in Chases' fascinating documentary One - the officially approved version is the “heartwarming and delightful portrait of the Australia so many remember and long for”. The other is the chilling and disturbing portrait of those who remember and long for the Australia of old. Just as the original Coo-ee March captured the spirit of the nation in 1915, the re-enacted March provides us with a glimpse at the mood of the nation, or at least the rural sector, in 1988 - a community torn apart by declining agricultural returns and increasingly divorced from the power-broking urban centres.

Rabid nationalism provides a convenient shield for some loose talk about the standard bar-room warhorses - politicians, unemployment, immigration and masculinity - the complexity of contemporary political issues having no place amongst the cut and dried rural philosophies.

Few Australian films have ever captured the divide between the urban and rural Australia's as concisely as Chase does in this film In the directors own words - “It's another world out there.”

See also...

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