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'Once were monks': A five-part documentary launch, Kino Cinema, Melbourne, 28th March, 2000, 7.00 pm.

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Once were monks A five-part documentary launch Kino Cinema 45 Collins Street, Melbourne 28th March, 2000 7.00 pm Peter McGauran

Thank you Rob.

Special guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be here today to launch Once were monks.

This is a magnificent and absorbing documentary about a small religious community of men 'moving house';

But of course Once were monks is about so much more than that.

The temporary move of the brothers from their beloved home at St Francis church and monastery to 'a pub' is a deeply moving account of individual responses not only to the relocation but also to the meaning of life at St Francis.

As each brother sorts through the memorabilia of his own past, the move becomes a metaphor for more profound Upheavals in life.

In the tradition of best documentary making Once were monks brings a sympathetic understanding to an unusual situation.

As well as fine life drama, Once were monks offers a glimpse into an important part of Melbourne's history.

St Francis church is a much-loved Melbourne landmark - the oldest church in Victoria -but it is also a living church with a culturally diverse congregation.

Attendance at mass is well over 3,000 people every Sunday and Once were monks offers us a special insight into the daily events at this busy church.

The brothers of St Francis are themselves from different cultural backgrounds - and each brings different skills to their work; there is an open-heartedness in their relationship with their community

We engage so readily with the characters in this very human story; and understand a little of the mystery of their spiritual observance;

The courage of that life choice - seemingly so remote from ours.

Viewers will be challenged, occasionally saddened, and uplifted by Once were monks.

Documentaries such as this make an important contribution to the arts and to the Australian community.

They inform and entertain, and they enrich our world.

The commissioning and distribution of quality productions like Once were monks creates a vital audio-visual record of Australian life - from all corners of the country.

Film Australia is currently engaged in producing a readily accessible archive of programs made over the last 85 years - as well as a photographic collection dating back to 1911.

The Federal Government - through the national interest program - is delighted and proud to support Film Australia in these projects.

Congratulations to all involved with the production of Once were monks; you can be very proud of your achievement.

It is a fine documentary, which will enthral viewers, and I am delighted to declare the program officially launched.

Thank you.