For our closing night, we are proud to screen Hotel Coolgardie - a documentary that represents another side of Australian culture that most people won’t experience. Described as both shocking and jaw-dropping, you’ll need to come along to decide for yourself.
In the isolated outback of Western Australia, is Coolgardie. The town of 850 was once the third largest mining town but now sees more tourists than miners, and boasts Hotel Coolgardie - the only bar in town - in the centre. This is the staging for this most definitely un-staged documentary by Australian director Pete Gleeson.
The documentary trails the arrival and short stay of two backpackers to Hotel Coolgardie. Every three months new travelers come to live at the hotel to work in the pub and put aside some saving before continuing their travels. This story focuses on two Finnish travellers, Lina and Steph, who arrive at the bar to serve beers, replenish savings, and get a taste of the local life.
However, it’s fair to say the local life was not the type they expected. Seen as ‘fresh meat’ by the local drinkers, they are at the mercy of their ruthless boss, are relentlessly hit-on by drunk patrons, and experience a side of Australian culture you won’t read about in the brochures.
Not only capturing the two female backpackers' experience, local characters reveal the underlying vibe of loneliness and depression amongst the men. Exposed through drunken snippets across the bar, you get an idea of how small communities have suffered and stagnated with the downturn of the mining industry. Documenting a town such as this on film, and the people who live there, is extreme, but it's real. The journey is intense, raw, it has many twists and turns, and is highly entertaining!
Director Pete Gleeson told ABC News the unique, no-nonsense character of the people in the region, which attracted him in the first place, was what made the film what it was. “It was very much more intense than we anticipated,” he reflected to The Guardian.
“One of the most captivating Australian documentaries in recent memory… humorous, absorbing, uneasy and often disturbing.” – Cinema Australia
“An important and timely documentary…sociologically fascinating and morally icky…takes a hard, unflinching look at fragile masculinity.” – Toronto Film Scene
“A nightmare version of Cheers” – POV Magazine
This is a fascinating film that polarizes its audience: some love it, and some are completely shocked. Intense, shocking, eye-opening, sexist, outrageous, uncomfortably familiar...these descriptions have all been used to describe ‘Hotel Coolgardie’, even an ‘Australian outback nightmare’. So, now it’s up to you to make your own assessment. Join us for the closing night of the 8th Down Under Berlin Film Festival, 2018, and for our closing reception in the Moviemento lounge after the screening. You'll need a strong drink after this one!
See you at the movies!
Check out audience reactions to Hotel Coolgardie!
Rosie Condon is a New Zealander living in Berlin. Freelancing as an art director and set decorator, working in tech, and swimming in lakes takes up her spare time when she’s not running the social media channels for Down Under Berlin.