Documentary Australia Foundation

Next submission deadline is
16 May 2014

In Bob We Trust

Director /
Lynn-Maree Milburn, Andrew de Groot, Richard Lowenstein, Lynn-Maree Milburn
2012 February
AUD $150000
AUD $520000
100 minutes

About the film

Every day for thirty-eight years, Father Bob Maguire opened the doors of his beloved Church at 7.00am. Every evening at 7.00pm he made the same solitary journey to close its doors. He knows everyone by name that passes by, his own front door always open. In 1973, straight from a post as army chaplain and inspired by the teachings of Vatican II, Father Bob was sent to the working class Parish of South Melbourne. It was promised he was there ‘for life’. Vatican II had dismantled the hierarchical structure of the church and opened up to people in a more humane way. Father Bob loved the humility of its teachings and worked hard to win the parishioners’ hearts and mind with its ethos.
He set about finding what he could do for the community’s poor and disaffected. The needs of the troubled youths of the Parish he discovered proved urgent. To them he opened the doors to the Church, the parish, its coffers and his own pockets. For thirty years he fought to bring about change in their lives. In 2002 a new milieu arose. New Bishops and Cardinals were appointed whose philosophies differed from the ethos of Vatican II. The expenditure of his schemes, his need to help so directly and personally brought Fr Bob into conflict with the Archbishop. Mutiny was afoot from on high but Father Bob’s wily ways with the media were deemed too clever. His detractors believed he would have the public’s sympathy if they threatened his position. Instead they tried to control his behavior. When Father Bob turned seventy-five it was opportune for the Archbishop to enforce retirement. The Parish fought and won a reprieve. Two years whizzed by, another failed campaign and suddenly Father Bob was on the street. Refusing anonymity and retirement, wishing to continue the fight for the poor, unable to relinquish his priesthood, Father Bob set about establishing himself in the community. Wounded and grieving Father Bob begins the process of transmuting his painful loss into fuel to fight, perhaps for his own dignity, deeper still for his sanity. For the first time he must find out who he is, beyond the vital priest who cannot let go of his passion to preach, to help the poor, to communicate, to be effective, to be meaningfully provocative, to never say die, to find out what he really believes.

Funding amount Sought

AUD $150000

Total Project Budget

AUD $520000

Length of Production

100 minutes

Stage of Production


How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

Fr Bob Maguire has been dedicated to the needs of the most neglected members of his local community all of his adult life and notably since 1973, when he found himself the parish priest of South Melbourne, a large inner suburb finding its lower income residents quickly becoming displaced by commercial developments. He created Open Family in the 1980s to help streetkids, which has since grown to other communities across Australia. Since the late 1980s, his Emerald Hill Mission has provided daily meals and school costs relief for public housing children, run a food van, The Hope Mobile, and employed outreach workers. In 2003 he founded a third response unit, Beyond Care, to look after ex-wards of the state who had survived the years from troubled adolescence but were without personal, family or community support. He promised lifelong membership to streetkids who joined the rehabilitation program. Beyond Care, an unglamorous unit as are all intensive care units, is Father Bob’s personal vocation in the years left to him. The objectives of a philanthropic foundation are reflected in Fr Bob Maguire’s humanism and commitment to the welfare of streetkids, the homeless and disadvantaged people who are without government support.

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

Although Father Bob has consistently appeared in local and national press throughout his 38 years as Parish Priest of South Melbourne few news stories have documented his daily trials, encounters and everyday work within his community, a vocation to which he is absolutely bound. After many years building a relationship with Father Bob the director Lynn-Maree Milburn has been able to capture rare and unique footage, which will re-introduce the public to this celebrated community figure, share these rarely witnessed aspects of his work, and reflect on his philosophies and experiences. It is Fr Bob Maguire’s disarming, and entertaining way of highlighting sad and confronting truths that this documentary intends to inspire the wider public raising awareness of the jeopardy many in our communities are faced with and the contribution to their welfare that rare individuals like Fr Bob Maguire ensure. With all its attendant emotion, loaded history, psychological and spiritual profundity this story will be captured with candour, humour and wisdom. The measure of the impact of this documentary will be the dialogue surrounding the film and social action evident in the initiation and support of community programs of the kind to which Fr Bob is dedicated.

What is your education and outreach strategy

We will work with the Australian Teachers of Media, creating study guides to enhance the distribution to schools via ATOM’s extensive network of educators and marketed via their Metro Magazine and Screen Education publications. We will also work with Kanopy Streaming Service, the leading supplier of streamed programming to Australian/New Zealand Libraries supplying all University Libraries with the capability for tertiary students to stream the film on-demand. We will exhibit to the core audience group of Father Bob ‘comrades’, parishioners, outreach workers and their communities, marketed via his own extensive community and media network including his 50,000 Twitter followers and Foundation supporters. Event spaces such as Father Bob’s Place (the home of the Father Bob Maguire Foundation: The Next Generation) would host screenings. Similar organizations nationwide would be approached and importantly, political, business and community leaders would be encouraged to see the film. With Father Bob’s regular TV, radio and other media appearances we recognize the potential audience in the mainstream public. We will create a 100minute theatrical/festival version and a 60 minute version, maximizing broadcast opportunities. Lastly we will reach an international audience through festivals and iTunes making the film available to anyone with Internet access.

Who are the filmmakers responsible for the project?

In 2000, Lynn-Maree Milburn, Andrew de Groot and Richard Lowenstein established GHOST PICTURES, one of Melbourne’s most respected production companies. Their collaborations in directing, writing, cinematography and production has resulted in some of Australia’s most iconic films, including last year’s highly acclaimed theatrical and festival hit Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard and in 2009, Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s documentary Bastardy.
Lynn-Maree co-directed Autoluminescent and directed the documentary Memories & Dreams officially selected at Venice and many major festivals, winning multiple awards. She co-produced Courtin-Wilson’s documentary Chasing Buddha and co-directed John Safran’s Music Jamboree for SBSi (AFI Award Best Television Comedy 2003). She co-produced Bastardy and Emma Franz’s Intangible Asset 82. Richard Lowenstein has produced six feature films including Dogs In Space, He Died With A Felafel In His Hand and feature documentary Autoluminescent. He has produced two award-winning TV series John Safran’s Music Jamboree and John Safran versus GOD, the documentary Intangible Asset 82, Courtin-Wilson’s documentary Ben Lee: Catch My Disease, and Autoluminescent, which he co-directed with Lynn-Maree. One of Australia’s most notable feature cinematographers, Andrew de Groot has co-produced Bastardy and Ben Lee: Catch My Disease, Intangible Asset 82, Edward Martin’s Jisoe and Autoluminescent, which he also photographed.