Backtrack Boys was not only met by a standing ovation when it premiered to a full house at the Sydney Film Festival, but it also took out the coveted Audience Award.
The documentary, produced by acclaimed director Catherine Scott, followed three troubled teenage boys on a two and a half year journey through Armidale’s award winning Backtrack program.
Founder of Backtrack, Bernie Shakeshaft, said the reception to the film was “sensational”, as well as a great opportunity to expose the public to the value of his holistic long term program that is turning lives around.
Mr Shakeshaft took a group of the Backtrack boys to the premier at the George Street Cinema, literally lapping up the red carpet with some of the sheep dogs used in the program.
The Governor of NSW David Hurley and his wife Linda Hurley joined the boys on the red carpet, and as patrons gave a stirring speech about the benefits and values the Backtrack program has to offer.
“The boys loved the red carpet, it was so far removed from their zone – it was an amazing opportunity,” he said.
“The Governor and Mrs Hurley were also incredible, it really meant a lot to have them there.”
The reaction to the documentary has been so good that it has already been booked for a double screening at the upcoming Melbourne Film Festival, as well as a screening at the Canberra event.
Plans are also underway for a huge gala screening in Armidale on July 23 and 24, with further details and tickets to be released in the coming weeks.
For Mr Shakeshaft he hopes the extra exposure and buzz surrounding the film can generate a change in perspective across the nation.
“It was a bit tough for the three boys involved who told their story, sometimes that it is a difficult one, but it all comes back to that message of hope,” he said.
“I think the message is definitely starting to get through that there are better ways to do things.
“Coming up to the elections I hope that message can push right through to the top.”