I met her three years ago at Berlinale, the annual Berlin International Film Festival. I was there to introduce a documentary. She saw the opening of the film, and in a brief moment, she approached me with a beautiful smile, a binder under her arm, and the confidence of knowing that what she was about to tell me would be of great interest.
Frances Calvert was pure passion. When she introduced herself to me, she had already spent years working on what seemed to be her life project: a documentary about the journey of the Galician sailor Luis Váez de Torres. When she began to tell me the story, I was fascinated. Luis Váez de Torres gives his name to one of the most beautiful straits in the north of Australia: the Torres Strait that separates Australia from New Guinea. His story begun on a ship sailing from Peru in 1605 and was, without a doubt, worthy of being told: his was a journey from Galicia to Australia in the seventeenth century.
Frances was an Australian documentary filmmaker residing in Germany who, after working on several projects on the Torres Strait, now wished to intertwine two threads and connect two cultures that, apparently, only had in common the fact that the first European sailor who had crossed the strait was a Galician man. And with that story, she wished to construct a journey of cultural exchange between two communities that know almost nothing about their share in the story. And this exchange would take place through two twenty-first century female explorers, an anthropologist from the Torres Strait Islands and a Galician artist.
But Frances ran out of time and died unexpectedly a few months ago. Her documentary, Buena Vista Australia, never obtained the necessary financing. And today, all the way from Oceania, I cannot stop thinking about her.
Thank you, Frances, for your passion and perseverance, for opening our eyes to history.