ACT News


Blinky Bill's Polish heritage

Quietly watching his grandchildren skate on the newly opened ice rink in Garema Place yesterday morning was Yoram Gross, regarded as Australia's leading animation producer and director.

The 85-year-old, Polish-born Gross is responsible for animating the children's classic Blinky Bill. His many other credits include 16 feature films for children, eight of which continued the adventures of Dot from the original film Dot and the Kangaroo.

Now living in Sydney, Gross was in Canberra this week for a presentation to the embassy of Poland of a documentary about him called Blinky and Me.

New York filmmaker Tomasz Magierski, who was also in Canberra for the screening, tells the story of Gross' childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland; in Israel, where he began creating animated art films and in Australia, where he found his fortune and happiness.

Magierski said he first learned about Gross in a story in a Polish newspaper in New York that mentioned he was going to take his five grandchildren on a trip back to Poland.

The filmmaker asked if he could tag along and so the film began.

Gross' wife Sandra said the grandchildren thought there were plenty of similarities between their grandfather and the cheeky Blinky Bill.

And how did he come to animate such an iconic Australian tale?

''It takes a foreigner to see the beauty of Australia. Australians take it for granted,'' she said.