Vale, Jonathan Dawson


On Friday, a very good man left this world.

Jonathan Dawson was a gentlemen. Many say they are a dying breed. I disagree. My father, my husband, my brother and so many other men with whom I am privileged to share contact disprove this theory. But Jonathan was one of the great ones. A big fish in the relatively small (but awesome) pond of the Tasmanian film industry, Jonathan had every opportunity to adopt the airs and graces many of his esteem would take on far too quickly. He never did. He was graceful, polite, engaging. He entranced me with his wit and intelligence, and his kindness and generosity. I am bereft at his passing.

I met Jonathan when I worked at the State Cinema. The owner, John Kelly, gave me the marvellous opportunity to sit in on his film seasons, in exchange for making pre-course coffees and running the films. As I was studying film at university, and far too poor to be able to afford the course fees, I was ecstatic to be given this chance to learn from a man I knew to be a master.

And master he was. Oh golly, I can’t even begin to detail all that I learned from Jonathan Dawson. In his brain lived the history of the silver screen, and he imparted his knowledge in both and erudite and simple fashion. I lived for those chilly Saturday mornings, chatting with him over the coffee machine (he and his beautiful wife, Felicity, were always the first to arrive – no swanning in fashionably late for Mr Dawson), and those hours in the small darkened theatre, watching the films and soaking up every moment of my time in the great man’s presence.

Jonathan was incredibly giving to me outside of the season, too. He helped me with my assignments, allowed me to interview him for magazine articles, and was always available for a chat, about anything. His wife, Felicity, was similarly open and welcoming. She even got me (almost) interested in knitting for a while there. As a couple, they were a perfect match and I enjoyed every moment of the company of both of them.

I will miss Jonathan. The Tasmanian film industry will miss Jonathan. He has left a gaping hole. I’m not sure it will ever be filled.

I can’t make it to the memorial service on Thursday, but I urge all of you who can to attend. It’s at 4pm, at the State Cinema. Go. Give thanks that Hobart was gifted a few years with this lovely, supremely talented man. Maybe wear a neckerchief in his honour.

I’ll be thinking of him. I’ll continue to think of him, whenever the lights dim and the first scenes of a film glow with life.

Vale, Jonathan Dawson. True gentleman. One of a kind. Thank you for having lived, having touched my life. I know that, wherever you are now, you’re sitting in the director’s chair.