The mother and son at the heart of Proof

BY TARA FEDORIW-MORRIS AND MIGUEL GONZALEZ

As we approach the end of our NFSA Restores: Proof crowdfunding campaign, we spoke with two actors who were part of the 1991 Jocelyn Moorhouse classic.

The screen time of Heather Mitchell and Jeffrey Walker in the film might be limited, but their relationship is what triggers the protagonist’s lack of trust and constant need for ‘proof’.

Jeffrey Walker and Heather Mitchell played 8-year-old Martin and his mother. Did she lie about the world he could not see? Did she lie about her health because she wanted to get away from him? How would these doubts affect a child who relied on others but had difficulty trusting what they said to him?

After Proof, Heather Mitchell continued her film, television and stage career. We recently saw her in A Place to Call Home (2013–15), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2013) and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013).

In our interview, Heather talked about why Proof provoked such a strong emotional reaction in audiences:

"Proof was such an intimate piece. The story itself resonated with people. It has a gentle quality, and there was something emotional about the look of the film that triggered emotions rather than cerebral reactions. People hadn’t felt that with an Australian film before. There are many films from the time that aren’t digitised, and it’s hugely important that they are preserved because new generations haven’t seen these works." - Heather Mitchell

 

Jeffrey Walker was only eight years old when he played Martin as a child. He had other acting roles, but he’s spent the last decade developing a career as a director, predominantly in television. He’s directed many successful and critically acclaimed drama and comedy series, both in Australia and the US. From long-running series like Neighbours (1985–current) and Home and Away (1988–current) to Modern Family (2009–current) and Bones (2005–current), Jeffrey has made a name for himself in the industry. He doesn’t forget, however, that it all started with Proof.

He told us:

"Jocelyn’s storytelling voice is just about perfect. There’s lightness to it, but also darkness and complexity. It’s a timeless film that launched the careers of so many people. Nothing compares to having a beautifully restored digital version of a film to live on forever, to be able to screen in cinemas. These films deserve not to get broken down physically as the years go on; they deserve to be seen the way all those wonderful filmmakers intended."