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at The Wheeler Centre

Paul Cox and Paulie Stewart

‘Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.’ Those are the words of novelist Haruki Murakami, but Murakami is not the first, nor the last, artist to express this strangely reassuring sentiment. Filmmaker Paul Cox and musician and journalist Paulie Stewart are two men whose experiences of coming close to death have altered the course of their lives.

Cox, one of Australia’s most prolific and internationally celebrated filmmakers, has been making films since the 1970s, including Lonely Hearts, Man of Flowers and My First Wife. In 2009, he was diagnosed with liver cancer. After receiving a life-saving liver transplant at the end of 2009, Paul developed a screenplay inspired by some of his experiences in the cancer ward. The resulting film – Force of Destiny, starring David Wenham, Shahana Goswami and Jacqueline McKenzie – is an affecting and surprising story that tells, amongst other things, of finding love on the transplant waiting list at the Austin Hospital.

Paulie Stewart, frontman of the band Painters and Dockers, met Cox while also at hospital awaiting a liver transplant. Stewart appeared in one of several ‘Micro Stories' made by Force of Destiny producer Maggie Miles in collaboration with the Austin, that connect with Cox's feature film.  The experience of liver cancer prompted Stewart to strengthen his commitment to a cause that is close to his heart for family reasons – helping the people of East Timor (having earlier founded the band Dili Allstars). 

At this lunchtime Wheeler Centre event, we’ll screen both Stewart's and Cox’s Micro Stories. We’ll also hear insights from both men on the subjects of  life, death, art and the extraordinary transplant experience.


Portrait of Paulie Stewart

Paulie Stewart

Born and bred in the inner-Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, Paulie Stewart was the inaugural winner of the Essence of St Kilda essay prize – as well as an original member of infamous Melbourne punk band Painters and Dockers. Inducted into the Age Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, the group released seven albums and performed more than 1500 live shows throughout Australia, New Zealand and North America.

Stewart is also a founding member of East Timorese/Australian band The Dili Allstars, awarded a 2009 ARIA award for Best Soundtrack (Balibo). The band has toured extensively in Australia, East Timor, Portugal and Brazil, releasing three albums, two EPs and an ABC Music 'Best of' retrospective, raising large sums of money for various East Timorese charities.

Portrait of Paul Cox

Paul Cox

Paul Cox is a film producer, writer and director. Born in Holland and settled in Australia, Paul is an auteur of international acclaim and one of Australia’s most prolific filmmakers with 40 features, shorts and documentaries to his name. 

Midday Shot

We love exploring ideas here at the Wheeler Centre, and encouraging others to do the same. That’s why every second Thursday lunchtime, we hand the microphone over to thinkers, dreamers, writers and orators, so they can share the ideas that have been occupying them the most.

It’s a space to tunnel deep into a train of thought and emerge with surprising conclusions, recommendations for change, or simply a more evolved set of questions. The flexible format provides a platform for the eclectic, topical and enlightening: stories and opinions you won’t hear elsewhere.

Come for your lunch break and leave refreshed, your brain buzzing.


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