Tom Keneally is one of Australia’s greatest storytellers. With over thirty novels under his belt, he’s best known for the Booker Prize winning work, Schindler’s Ark, on which the movie Schindler’s List was based.
Thomas Keneally is also passionate about social justice and human rights, which is why he’s an ambassador for the Big Picture Film Festival, taking place from the 19 – 29 March in Sydney.
Audio – Katrina Roe talks with Thomas Keneally about his books, writing and the Big Picture Film Festival.
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“I’ve always been an admirer of Bill Crews, whose idea this very lively festival is. I have always been in esteem of Bill for his standing up for human rights in a way not all the clergy do,” Tom says.
The Big Picture Film Festival features movies with social justice themes, but don’t expect the films to “die of earnestness”, Tom Keneally says.
“The question was to get a program together of films that relate to social justice and yet are extremely entertaining at the same time, that are seductive because they’re both entertaining, but they carry a heavy social justice clout as well.”
As one of Australia’s most enduring and prolific writers, Thomas Keneally also shares his insights into rapidly changing game of books and writing.
He says one of the things he’s most proud of is simply surviving fifty years as a writer. “You’ve got to be either hugely determined or an absolute psychopath to last 50 years, or a mixture of both.”
“I think writing will survive and extended writing in the form of the novel will survive. The novel is the biggest game in town. People who only read non-fiction don’t know what a delight it is to inhabit a good novel.”
“We talk about writing being tough and it is tough, but it gives us a high hardly anyone else gets out of their job. It’s such a transcendent joy to write.”
So does Thomas Keneally believe that films, novels and stories can change the world?
“Definately. Not fast enough, but it can change attitudes. It never goes astray to assert that we’re all human beings,” he says.