Vale Hunter Cordaiy

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Hunter strolling the Marche aux Fleurs, Nice. December 2012.

Hunter Cordaiy passed away in Nice, France, on the 13th of January, 2016.

Hunter was born in Sydney on 20 April 1950. In his 65 years he wrote 25 essays and over 200 film reviews, and contributed to many anthologies of films and directors. He interviewed the likes of Jane Campion, Ray Lawrence, Wim Wenders, Gillian Armstrong, John Sayles, Ian Pringle, Mike Leigh, Robert Connolly, Phillip Noyce, Rolf de Heer and Ana Kokkinos. He taught film studies and screenwriting at New England College (1976-80), University of New South Wales (1988-90, 2010-13), and University of Western Sydney (1990-2010).

From 2009 until his death, he was working on telling the story of cinema on the French Riviera. In February 2015, he finally fulfilled his lifelong dream of moving to Nice.

In February 2016, Hunter’s ashes were scattered by his family in a private memorial in Nice. Hunter now rests in the memorial garden at the Crématorium de Nice Côte-d’Azur.

 


 

I met Hunter in my first year of uni, 2006, when he took over our class for Screen Media. By the end of semester, I knew what my major would be. Little did I know, though, how much my tutor had yet to influence me.

Hunter and I remained in contact through the remainder of my degree; we enjoyed meetings in his office at UWS, where he would regale me with stories of his adventures in the screen trade in Europe and America. When I decided to take up Honours, Hunter was my first call for supervisor.

He was a generous supervisor, brutally honest but very fair, and highly congratulatory when he approved of my work. We both indulged our love of cinema and stylish writing. Following my Honours graduation, Hunter left UWS in mid 2010, just as I’d begun the PhD.

In late 2010, however, he was delighted to learn that I was moving to the Blue Mountains. Hunter and I became even closer, and before long he asked for my help with some of his documentary projects.

These projects remain ongoing; I will do what I can to ensure they are completed. I owe my friend that much.

Hunter’s family contacted me over the weekend to inform me of his passing. I was shocked. In spite of adversity, Hunter was always so vital and full of life, so giving and so kind.

I will miss you very much, my dear, dear friend. And in this case it’s actually true: we’ll always have Paris.

Ziggy played guitar

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I can’t remember precisely when I bought The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, but I can definitely remember the first time I listed to it all the way through. I was catching the train from Sydney to Melbourne for a wedding in 2006. I’d been a Bowie fan throughout my teenage years; any Queen fan naturally transitions to the Thin White Duke at some point. But listening to and absorbing such a perfectly-crafted, wonderfully rich album was a life-changer.

Musically, it’s diverse. From blues to rock to old-school R&B, the album has all of it in spades, each track with its unique Ziggy-ish twist. And it’s spacey and druggy and rocky and everything in between. More than that, though, if you let the words and the music roll over you for the album’s length, it becomes a transcendent experience. Think of Major Tom, now returned to Earth and suffering the worst kind of comedown/depression; or better still, having flown through a wormhole (a la 2001: A Space Odyssey) and met the Starman himself. What kind of stories would they tell each other? What prophecies would Ziggy pass on? 11 prophecies in all, ranging in length from two five minutes, and making use of some of the most iconic musicians and styles and motifs of the era.

Do yourself a favour and track down the D.A. Pennebaker-directed concert film of the album. This was another of those revelatory high school moments. It’s a top film in and of itself, capturing the persona of Ziggy in that signature grainy Pennebaker style, making the character seem grounded, real, if unapproachable and ethereal.

It’s hard to describe how I’m feeling. Rumours had been circulating that Bowie was unwell for a decade or more, but he was a name, a figure, a character, that, despite removing himself from public life, was always so present. He was at the forefront of popular culture, not really giving a damn, for nearly half a century. I came to Bowie late, but I fell head over heels for the man, the music, the myth. Funny how culture, art, music in particular, can make you feel like you know someone. Suffice to say, there’s a hole in my heart today. Listening to the music dulls the ache, but it will take some time to heal.

And he was alright, the band was altogether.
Yes he was alright, the song went on forever.
And he was awful nice,
Really quite out of sight