Young at Heart: Our community cinema is a Star

Castlemaine possesses the Theatre Royale, Brighton boasts the Bay, Carlton presides over the Nova and Bendigo claims the Star at Eaglehawk.

Joan Rogers started the Star in the old Eaglehawk Town Hall in 2001. What a great use for an otherwise little used piece of lovely old Eaglehawk history and architecture. Not only did Joan set this cinema up, but she introduced us to the idea of comfortable couches, sipping a glass of wine while watching the film, and the chance to enjoy world recognised films that we would never otherwise have the opportunity to see.

The cinema was to close when Joan left, but people in the community led by Elsie L’Huillier and David Pugh worked incredibly hard to turn it into a successful community enterprise. They had the foresight and the courage to save it.

We are such a fortunate community to own such an alternative cinema. My country friends who live in other regional and rural areas are envious of our good fortune in seeing films never shown in your usual cinema. “Memorable and moving” is often the case when I see films at the Star. Many are foreign films which give us insight into other countries and cultures very different to our own.

These are the films that are award winners at overseas film festivals such as Cannes in France. The cinematography of these films is sophisticated and clever, with many of the foreign films directed by highly acclaimed directors and employing world renowned actors.

The Star has managed to survive despite some tough competition from the computer downloaders and DVDs. 

Now they are facing their biggest challenge yet. The Star must upgrade to the latest technology in which films are now presented. This is a major stumbling block to any future existence of our Star Cinema.

There are enough enthusiastic people to run the cinema as a not-for-profit committee of management, but they must now purchase this latest digital technology. Without it many of the films shown today will no longer be available for us to enjoy. A state government grant which has been applied for would complete the fundraising. The committee has worked incredibly hard to raise the required funds and is now anxiously awaiting a decision! The Star welcomes the community with frequent fundraisers for a whole raft of charities.  The Committee itself fund raises with special dinners linked to a theme related to the film being shown. Members are passionate about believing in keeping the dream of alternative cinema alive in Bendigo. 

All of these fundraisers and all the films that are shown are manned by volunteers and have been for the last eight years. They are a great bunch of very cheerful individuals, selling the ice-creams, organising the hot water for coffees and teas, washing the cups and glasses, pouring the drinks, selling the tickets, cleaning up after us when we leave. 

The Star has some generous supporters, local businesses in Eaglehawk and Bendigo and generous individuals who continue to be solid in their support for the Star. This is apart from the Bendigonians who actually support the cinema by attending and volunteering their time. 

The Star is one of my favourite places in Bendigo, during weekends but also weekdays when there is a film I particularly wish to see. What an indulgence – a superb film, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and a comfortable couch to stretch out on!

Support this local organisation. Come along and see these wonderful films. Give a donation if you can. 

This is a precious resource not to be lost! 

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