One program in ABC-TV’s 2007 line-up that I am looking forward to is 900 NEIGHBOURS, a documentary by Brendan Fletcher, which was shown during the Sydney Film Festival in 2006.
It’s that big brown building you can see from all over the city. One of Sydney’s most famous and infamous buildings — Northcott. It began life as Chifley’s dream solution to post-war public housing. Over the years the dream has fallen foul, as the building became synonymous in the public mind with suicides, murders and drug dealers. In collaboration with BIG hART, Northcott residents have worked hard over the last three years to turn that perception around. This culminated in a performance piece, involving artists and tenants, which became one of the hits of the 2006 Sydney Festival. 900 Neighbours takes you behind this process and behind those big brown walls and reveals a side of Surry Hills most Sydneysiders would never dream existed. It paints a vivid portrait of the community that is Northcott — warts and all, for sure, but all the more human for it.
The 900 neighbours are my neighbours; in fact I am heading for the Northcott in a couple of hours to go to the Library, to check Lord Malcolm’s mail, and to see if his plants need watering.
Nothing trivial about any of that, not for me, and lest anyone come here from a blog I have spent too much time thinking about recently, where a somewhat jaundiced view of what I do here has appeared in recent days, I should mention that what I do for Lord Malcolm is in honour of a very good friendship with someone whose politics are much more to the right than mine, but whose life struggle ever since I first met him in 1999-2000 has been in my book heroic, though he did not and does not make a big deal out of it. Further, others have been more substantial in the help they give — Sirdan and Artist Andy, to name just two. I just happen to live closest to Malcolm’s home.
Speaking of heroic…
Go to ABC Radio National and download Life Matters: Against the Odds – Will Elrick, which is truly inspirational.