Private Project


“A close friend of Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse, John Russell was a great vanguard painter, as well as a magnetic personality and long-term resident of the windswept French island of Belle-Ile. This wild and picturesque island had an enormous impact on the development of modern art. It features in the development of many artists from Monet and Matisse through to Ellsworth Kelly. Russell is one of the most interesting figures in Australian art, and a crucial figure in the story of Impressionist and post-impressionist art in general.”
Sebastian Smee, 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and art critic for the Washington Post

Russell is arguably Australia’s most influential artist in terms of his role in the development of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism internationally. But who was he and why has he been largely overlooked by mainstream art history?

Over the course of an hour, we look at Russell’s life and work through the eyes of contemporary artists and historians. We travel with them to Belle-Ile to uncover Russell’s ongoing legacy. Through his own paintings and his influential artistic friendships, we reveal his pivotal impact on the way the world responds to colour today. This is an artist who deserves to be held on a pedestal beside his closest peers - Monet, Matisse and Van Gogh.

Russell is a role model for anyone who has a creative vision and the desire to chase it.

Writer/Director/Producer: Catherine Hunter, Producer: Erica Drew Cinematographer/Editor: Bruce Inglis, Composer: David Bridie,
Line Producer: Shelley Maine, Post Production: Sandcastle Studios

John Peter Russell: voiced by Hugo Weaving
Gisele Borgnis-Desbordes – Belle-Ile resident and granddaughter of Russell’s housekeeper
Anne Galbally - Australian art scholar and author of books on French Impressionism and JP Russell
Patrick Jourdan, Director, Musee Morlaix, Brittany
Euan McLeod – Australian painter
Chris Riopelle - Curator of post-1800 Paintings, National Gallery, London
Hugh Russell - Russell’s Great Grandson
Luke Sciberras – Australian painter
Sebastian Smee - Art critic, Washington Post, USA
Hilary Spurling - International art scholar and Henri Matisse’s biographer
Wayne Tunnicliffe - Curator of Australian Art, Art Gallery of NSW and exhibition on the art of John Peter Russell.
Sarah Turnball – Author

  • Catherine Hunter
    Glenn Murcutt – Spirit of Place (ABC 2016); Trent Parke – The Black Rose (ABC 2015); Jeffrey Smart: Master of Stillness (ABC, 2012); A Law Unto Himself (ABC, 2012); Jenny Sages: Paths to Portraiture (ABC, 2012); Inland Heart: The Photography of Jeff Carter (ABC, 2012); Margaret Olley: A Life in Paint (ABC, 2012) Sidney Nolan – Mask and Memory (ABC 2009). Sunday program, Nine Network, Arts Producer, 1985 - 2006
  • Catherine Hunter
  • Catherine Hunter
  • Erica Drew
    ERICA is an interdisciplinary producer with thirty years experience in visual arts and event management at the MCA and Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. She produced the exhibition on John Peter Russell Belle-Ile: Monet, Russell and Matisse in Brittany for the Art Gallery of NSW. A recent graduate of AFTRS Screen Business, as en emerging producer her productions include short films on Australian fashion designer Akira Isogawa, Japanese design Genji, a CDRom on sculptor Bertram Mackennal, numerous exhibition videos and interviews including with renown film & costume designer Catherine Martin.
  • Hugo Weaving
    Key Cast
    "voice of John Russell"
    1990 ...Almost 1991 Proof 1992 Road to Alice 1993 Frauds Reckless Kelly The Custodian 1994 Exile The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert What's Going On, Frank? 1995 Babe 1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1997 True Love and Chaos 1998 Babe: Pig in the City Bedrooms and Hallways The Interview The Kiss 1999 Strange Planet Little Echo Lost The Matrix 2000 The Magic Pudding 2001 Russian Doll The Old Man Who Read Love Stories The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Matrix Reloaded The Matrix Revolutions 2004 Everything Goes Peaches 2005 Little Fish V for Vendetta 2006 Happy Feet 2007 Transformers In the Company of Actors 2008 The Tender Hook 2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Last Ride 2010 The Wolfman Oranges and Sunshine[11] Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Captain America: The First Avenger Happy Feet Two 2012 Cloud Atlas The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2013 Mystery Road The Turning 2014 Healing The Mule The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2015 Strangerland The Dressmaker 2016 Hacksaw Ridge 2017 Jasper Jones 2018 Black '47 Mortal Engines 2019 Hearts and Bones
  • Luke Sciberras
    Key Cast
    visual artist
  • Hilary Spurling
    Key Cast
    Matisse's biographer
  • Chris Riopelle
    Key Cast
    National Gallery, London
  • Bruce Inglis
    BRUCE specialises in arts and architecture documentaries, Inglis has shot and edited online videos for the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Opera House and arts documentaries including Glenn Murcutt – Spirit of Place (ABC 2016), Trent Parke – The Black Rose (ABC 2015) A Law Unto Himself (ABC Artscape, 2012), Jeffrey Smart: Master of Stillness (ABC Artscape,2012), Margaret Olley: A Life in Paint (ABC, 2012) Mask and Memory (ABC, 2009), China Avant Garde (ABC Artscape, 2008), Scene by Scene (CNN International, 2008), Deadly Women (Discovery Channel USA, 2009) Prior to working with the Nine Network’s Sunday program (1998-2007), he filmed and edited for the BBC’s Australian bureau for seven years.
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Television
  • Runtime:
    58 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 26, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    350,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, France, United Kingdom
  • Language:
    English, French
  • Shooting Format:
    HD 1920 x 1080
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • ABC TV
    October 28, 2018
    Australian premier
    free to air broadcast
  • Australian 2019 Screen music awards
    Screen music awards night
    Best music for a documentary
Distribution Information
  • Poorhouse International
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
  • ABC TV
    Country: Australia
    Rights: Internet, Free TV
Director Biography - Catherine Hunter

CATHERINE HUNTER (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER) has a distinguished career covering the visual arts on Australian television. She was arts producer on the Nine Network’s Sunday program from 1985 to 2006 before freelancing as a director and producer. Recent productions include: “Glenn Murcutt – Spirit of
Place” (ABC 2016); “Trent Parke – The Black Rose” (ABC 2015); “Jeffrey Smart: Master of Stillness “ (ABC, 2012); “A Law Unto Himself” (ABC, 2012); “Jenny Sages: Paths to Portraiture” (ABC, 2012); “Inland Heart: The Photography of Jeff Carter” (ABC, 2012); “Margaret Olley: A Life in Paint” (ABC, 2012) and Sidney Nolan – Mask and Memory” (ABC 2009). Her Murcutt documentary was nominated for a Walkley Documentary Award, was 2017 Archiflix People’s Choice winner, and accepted to both the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival and the 2018 Palm Springs’ Architecture and Design Arts Film Festival.

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