Warburton filmmakers to screen doco on last days of the Brookyln Arts Hotel

L-R: Warburton filmmaker Belinda Lloyd and Brooklyn Arts Hotel owner Maggie Fooke. Picture: SUZANNE PHOENIX

By Callum Ludwig

The last 100 days of a much-loved Fitzroy hotel captured on film by two Warburton locals is set to screen in a documentary at the Warburton Arts Centre on Saturday 7 October.

Originally meant for 9 September, a broken projector has given everyone another chance to come along and learn about the history of the Brooklyn Arts Hotel and its effervescent owner Maggie Fooke.

Filmmakers Belinda Lloyd and Larry Lawson helped shoot the footage at the request of Ms Fooke and Ms Lloyd said they both knew Maggie and knew how special the place was.

“It was a funky, quirky, unusual hotel for artists and lovers of the arts run by Maggie Fooke, who’s a Cannes-screening filmmaker, a polymath, landscape architect and a cultural activist who set it up totally on her own terms,” she said.

“Larry and I are mates and were in town for the Melbourne Film Festival and booked a few nights there for the first time. When we arrived at the hotel, Maggie walked into the room, sat down on the end of the bed and said ‘Hi I’m Maggie, I’m heading up to Castlemaine for the weekend, so you’ll be here pretty much on your own,”

“Larry and I just looked at each other and we were like, ‘What is this place, this is awesome’.”

The first unsuccessful screening was held with a Q&A with Mr Lawson and Ms Fooke herself, who will be unable to attend the October screening in person due to being overseas but hopefully will be able to Zoom call in.

Ms Lloyd said she came into the filming process expecting to be a coffee runner and to learn from Ms Fooke, but quickly realised that wasn’t going to be the case.

“She really didn’t have the time and energy to make a feature film on top of this massive change in her life, packing up a hotel and figuring out what’s next,” she said.

“We just wanted to capture as much as possible and we talked a lot, Maggies was great at the spontaneous camerawork and her interview style is very vibrant so there’s an interesting contrast between my more measured, spacious approach and Maggie’s let’s just pick it up and see what happens”

Originally hoping to film every guest that visited in the hotel’s last 100 days, the film’s vision also saw a shift to focusing on Ms Fooke as Ms Lloyd and Mr Lawson wanted to capture what she created and her way of being because they ‘all wanted a bit of Maggie’ when they stayed there.

Ms Lloyd said the projector mishap highlighted to her the value of a small town having its own cinema.

“It showed me how lucky we are in Warburton and how I wish for myself that I thought earlier about how can we really protect, value and support this resource given we are such a small town,” she said.

“People actually left the non-screening saying it was such a great afternoon, it was such a great conversation and connection and that they want to see the film more than ever now.”