Tribute to Tim Burstall
30 April 2004
Betty, Tom, Dan and families. Tim’s colleagues and friends. Admirers and fans of Tim’s work.
It is a great privilege to be with you to celebrate the life and achievement of Tim Burstall.
As a six year old child living in the suburbs of Adelaide in the mid-seventies I experienced my first conscious feelings of curiosity, naughtiness and guilt thanks to Tim Burstall. Like many Australians now in their mid-30’s I have memories of my parents sending me to bed on a Sunday night just before Alvin Purple screened.
The trailers during the preceding week had, of course, laid the groundwork for rebellion.
Like a good six year old boy I snuck out of bed, crept down the hall, lay on the floor with my head peeking around the corner of the lounge to spy my parents watching Alvin Purple. Hoping to catch a glimpse of the cavorting black and white figures.
Detection and a smack were only minutes away. It was a pattern repeated with Number 96 and The Box.
As a child I had no idea of the other significance of what I was witnessing. Nor for that matter did many adults. The true importance of such things is often only appreciated in retrospect.
But as a punter, I was and am grateful for Tim’s work.
To an audience, directors have a certain nobility. Regardless of what happens on set, they are ultimately about minimising self and maximising others. And in Tim’s case giving an entire industry confidence in itself.
Tim Burstall was a great Australian.
In recognition, I have two messages – from the Prime Minister and from the Federal Minister for the Arts.
No matter what has been achieved, no matter how long a life. It is always too early to lose a husband, a father, a friend. To the Burstall family. Australia is grateful to you for what has been given to us and we are keenly aware of what has been taken from you.