On Borrowed Time with David Bradbury and Paul Cox

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Oscar award-nominated director, David Bradbury, has released a new film, On Borrowed Time, which celebrates the life of prominent Australian film maker, Paul Cox. Sandi Keane reports.

On Borrowed Time, the new film by Oscar nominated director David Bradbury, about the incredible life of another veteran Australian filmmaker, Paul Cox, will have its world premiere at the Brisbane International Film Festival.

Bradbury himself is one of Australia's best known documentary filmmakers, with his films having been screened across all Australia’s major networks, as well as around the world.

The winner of countless international film festival prizes, five AFI awards and two Oscar nominations – Frontline, which profiled war cameraman Neil Davis, and Chile: Hasta Cuando? on the brutal military dictatorship of General Pinochet – as well as a veteran campaigner for our beleaguered planet, Bradbury's films, like Cox’s, go straight to the heart of what matters in life.

On Borrowed Time tells of a highly original artist and auteur looking back on his life — as he confronts his own mortality.

Paul Cox has had a prolific career, having made 22 feature films, 11 documentaries and a series of shorts. It’s a remarkable output not realised by any of his peers. And, with the exception of Molokai – the Story of Father Damien, all of Paul’s films have been low budget, all made outside the Hollywood model and defiantly free of trivia and gratuitous violence.

“We would do anything to make a movie. Steal and borrow and whore to get the money together. If I had enough guts, I would have robbed a few banks because it would have been a lot easier,” says Cox.

“Now, audiences have been conditioned to think that a film should be fast and furious and have all sorts of violations of body and spirit. It’s very hard to fight against that. Today, you’ve got to make films about young people, preferably half naked in very fast cars and with a few guns in the back. And then you’re in big business. That’s the lunacy of it all."

The screening at BIFF, on November 4th at 8pm at the Tribal Theatre, will be followed by a special ‘sneak’ screening at the Cinema Nova in Melbourne on Saturday November 12 at 4.30pm and in Sydney at the Chauvel Cinema on November 23 at 6pm.

Paul Cox’s best films are bursting with emotional intensity, but also with humanity and humour: Lonely Hearts, Man of Flowers, My First Wife, A Woman’s Tale, Nijinksy, Vincent: A Portrait of Van Gogh are just a few of them.

On Borrowed Time documents Cox’s reflections on Life and Death, Love, Art and Beauty — major themes that run through Paul’s films, stretching over a remarkable 40 years. Clips from Paul’s films illustrate these major themes —as Paul waits for his own mortality to claim him.

Narrated by David Wenham, On Borrowed Time includes interviews or moments with some of Australia’s best known actors and Paul’s regular collaborators, including John Clarke, Julia Blake, Isabelle Huppert, Bob Ellis, Werner Hertzog, Phillip Adams, Jackie McKenzie, Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Chris Haywood, Aden Young and Wendy Hughes.

In early 2009, Cox was diagnosed with liver cancer and given six months to live. His only chance was a liver transplant, but his was a rare blood type shared by only 2 per cent of the population. And Australia has one of the poorest track records for organ donation in the developed world. He was indeed living On Borrowed Time.

As his clock collection ticks behind him, Cox (69) shares his views towards his art and life with David Bradbury (then 58) — just the two of them, in Paul’s kitchen in inner suburban Melbourne.

David Stratton will chair a special Q&A between Paul Cox and David Bradbury at the Sydney Chauvel screening. In Melbourne, Sunday Age film writer Tom Ryan will moderate the Q&A at the Nova with the two filmmakers.


  • Brisbane Film Festival, Nov 4th 8pm, Tribal Theatre; Nov 8th, Palace Barracks 6.30pm

  • Nova Cinema, Melbourne, Nov 12th 4.30pm

  • State Cinema, Hobart, Nov 17th 8.30pm, 19th, 20th and 23rd.

  • Chauvel Cinema, Sydney, Nov 23, 6pm.


Find out more about the movie at, follow it on Twitter at Facebook at

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