The charming cyclist: Castaway with Roy Conli

Desert Island Flicks

Disney producer Roy Conli discusses films close to his heart with RRR's Richard Watts

After flying in on a Wednesday, Disney Producer Roy Conli had already attended the opening of Dreams Come True, rented a two-wheeled beauty from Melbourne Bike Share, bought a $5 helmet, mastered the whole ‘left side of the road’ thing, and acquainted himself with the northern suburbs along Merri Creek Trail – all before lunch on Thursday. An avid cyclist, Conli brought his passion for movement, travel, storytelling and cinema to ACMI for a packed-out Desert Island Flicks session introduced by ACMI director Tony Sweeney and hosted by eloquent writer, Triple R radio presenter and general “man about town”, Richard Watts.

Conli spoke candidly about his early memories of Pinocchio, “the first film I ever watched”. We were treated to a scene from the 1940 Disney film in which “the little wooden head” is first given the name “Pinocchio” by his affable maker Mister Geppetto. Conli revealed the impact Pinocchio’s story had on his formative years – his own sense of right and wrong was forever influenced by the cute but terrifying image of Pinocchio’s ever-changing nose.

We learnt that Conli is Italian “by extraction” and that in many ways his sensibilities are more European than American. After a number of years working with French Disney, Conli headed back to California where he now works as a Hollywood producer. His most recent foray, and his own personal career highlight to date, is Disney’s Tangled, a 21st century retelling of the story of Rapunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore and Zachari Levi.

Conli’s background in theatre and his interest in performance, strong and complex characters and emotions infused his choice of films. In addition to Pinocchio (1940), we were delighted by scenes from one of the most loved French films of all time, Les Enfants du Paradis (1945), the controversial Elia Kazan’s masterpiece On the Waterfront (1954), Kubrick’s dark and biting Cold War satire Dr Strangelove or:  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and the timeless sex, drugs and rock’n’roll cool of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994).

Roy Conli

Roy's thoughtful appreciation of Pulp Fiction, On the Waterfront, Dr Strangelove, Pinocchio and Les Enfants du Paradis had audiences completely engaged

Conli was generous, insightful and often self-deprecating (the evening was peppered with several jokey jibes at his own role as Producer on Disney’s 2002 Treasure Planet which sadly, let’s just say, didn’t find much gold at the box office).

The many animators, students, and film appreciators in the audience (myself included) gained a wonderful picture of Conli’s varied and somewhat cosmopolitan career to date, spurred by his energy and belief in stories and journeys. Conli, through his work with Disney, will no doubt continue to travel to a cinema (or bicycle track) near you for many years to come.

– Eugenia Lim, Screen Events Coordinator

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