Tribeca Film Festival winners coming home

Some of the crew from Keep On Keepin' On (from left) piano prodigy Justin Kauflin, producer Quincy Jones, director Alan Hicks and cinematographer Adam Hart. Picture: RORY ANDERSON

Some of the crew from Keep On Keepin' On (from left) piano prodigy Justin Kauflin, producer Quincy Jones, director Alan Hicks and cinematographer Adam Hart. Picture: RORY ANDERSON

They took out two big awards at New York's Tribeca Film Festival and sold the film rights to one of the biggest companies in the business, but for two young filmmakers from Wollongong, nothing beats bringing their movie home.

And that's just what they'll do this weekend, as their critically acclaimed documentary on African-American jazz great Clark Terry premieres at the Sydney International Film Festival.

High school friends Alan Hicks and Adam Hart have been working Keep On Keepin' On since early 2010.

It follows the story of 93-year-old Terry - who taught Quincy Jones and Miles Davis - and his blind piano student, Justin Kauflin, and was conceived as the two Wollongong friends floated on their surfboards off Stanwell Park Beach.

In April, the movie screened to packed houses at Tribeca, where Mr Hicks was named best new director and awarded $25,000 by the festival jury.

The film was then named as a winner of the Heineken Audience Award, and the rights were acquired by Radius-TWC, part of film distribution juggernaut The Weinstein Company.

Mr Hart, the cinematographer, is still reeling from the success and can't wait to reveal his hard work to an Australian audience.

"It's pretty surreal, especially because our heart and our soul and everything was into this," he said.

"To be able to take my family and friends, who have been hearing about it for the last five years - and sit them down and say 'hey, this is it', it's pretty cool."

Mr Hart said he thought some people in the Illawarra might be surprised by his success - saying no-one would have expected "a couple of little Gong kids" to make a documentary about "an African-American piece of history".

"I think my high school teachers would be quite shocked because I'm sure they didn't think I had something like this in me. I was a bit of a rascal," he said. "But our friends know that whenever we put our minds to something, we don't go in half-arsed, it's all or nothing."

Keep On Keepin' On premieres at Events Cinemas, George Street, on Sunday at 8.45pm, and is also screening on June 10 at 2.15pm.

Mr Hicks will also lead an in-depth conversation on the film at Sydney Town Hall on June 11 at 6pm.

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