Bookwallah on the Big Screen


In November of last year I went on an amazing adventure. For three and a half weeks, in the company of four other writers, two mastermind visionaries, a designer and a problem-solving dynamo, I travelled across India. We presented at over thirty events, gave countless interviews to the media, climbed on and off trains and in out of buses, cars and auto rickshaws. We covered over 2,000 kilometres and we carried more than 300 kilos of baggage – most of which consisted of six handmade trunks packed full of Australian books. This was the Bookwallah Roving Writers Festival.

Tomorrow night, at Federation Square, the Bookwallah documentary film will be screened for the first time.

The documentary was produced, directed and filmed by Catriona Mitchell, one of the masterminds who, along with Nicolas Low of Asialink, dreamt up the whole crazy scheme. Although the writers took centre stage at public events, it was Nic and Catriiona who made the adventure possible.

I’m not much of a photographer. I forget to take pictures when I travel. I tend to reconstruct my memories and experiences with words and build the story of my experiences through narrative, rather than images. . But when I saw the documentary of the Bookwallah adventures in an early preview, I was amazed at how Catriona had given the journey a distinctive narrative, shaped it in a way that made sense of the heat, the chaos, the night trains, the events and destinations.

The Bookwallah team - minus Catriona Mitchell who is behind the camera - in Pondicherry, India.

The Bookwallah team – minus Catriona Mitchell who is behind the camera – in Pondicherry, India.

The Bookwallah will be on the big screen at Federation Square tomorrow night a 6.30 and then every Monday night in August at 6.30.

You can also see it on a tiny, interactive screen at the State Library of Victoria in the Cowen Gallery where the beautiful, travel-worn trunks are on display.




Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Every adult was once a child and the child inside them never disappears.”

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