On the Couch with Renée Brack

Renee-Brack-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Renée Brack?
Storyteller. Lecturer. GenX and typical of the descriptors. Bit of a rebel. Obedience is the least attractive quality in a grown woman and I’m not very good at it anyway. I enjoy eclectic adventures EG Shitbox Rally and less obvious travel destinations. A highlight was getting a backstage pass to the frontline of the war Middle East in 2007. I sat on Saddam’s throne and slept in his library. Seeing the machinations of the business of war was eye-opening.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
If I had my life over, I like to be a foley artist for film or a locations manager.

Who inspires you and why?
Where do I start? Margaret Atwood – I read The Handmaid’s Tale when it was published back in the 80s and a veil was lifted on my discomfort of how I was valued in society as a reproductive female. It’s great to be this age now and witness how a fictional story is a factual metaphor both then and now. Howard Bloom – he wrote The Lucifer Principle, which is a dense book about how the world works. I read it twice.

Judge Judy – I’ve learned a lot from her about how to sort through the muck to find the gem. I love her hilarious, abrupt style to problem solving. She’d be an incredible mentor and confidante. Margaret Mead – because of her timeless quotes. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Maya Angelou – “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Ava Duvernay – The 13th is a masterful exemplar of documentary. I’m impressed by her ability to craft a narrative that proves slavery in the US wasn’t abolished – it was re-branded.

What would you do to make a difference in the world? 
Ticketyboo the documentary is my personal story of feelings I pushed down about dad’s Alzheimer’s and it was acutely uncomfortable to admit a lot of things I did and didn’t do while he was alive. Now the film is moving into the impact phase, it’s less about me and more about what it means to other people – what they can take from it and use.

Hearing how other people respond to the film is better than anything I can say about it. If the end result is the audience is a little bit more understanding and kinder to a person with a dementia diagnosis, then inclusivity and compassion in the world is increased and that’s a great difference to have made.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Hmmm… I don’t have favourites of anything much because it’s somewhat divisive and assumes I think one place is better than another. When I travel, I have a habit of falling in love with a place in the moment, of wanting to live there. The Outback. Mexico. Venice. Halong Bay. Paris. Wellington NZ. Mullumbimby. It’s a bit of a running joke with friends.

Even the short time I visited Afghanistan, standing in scorching, dry 47 degree heat on a dirt airstrip, sipping warm water from a hot plastic bottle while gazing up at the snow-tipped mountains with poppies growing on the lower levels, I thought it could be a wonderful tourist destination some day but probably not in my lifetime.

When friends come to town, what attractionwould you take them to, and why? 
When friends from OS come to visit, I always take them to Erciyes in Sydney because it’s the best Turkish food I’ve encountered. There’s something magical imbued in the cuisine that I can’t explain and I enjoy people trying to find the words to describe it.

What are you currently reading?
Stiff – the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Turns out there is an after life after all but it’s not what various religions claim it to be. Roach has a deliciously dark sense of humour and frank writing style that appeals to my absurdist sense of humour.

What are you currently listening to?
Today, it’s UK Squeeze – Cool for Cats because of a thread I’m following on Reddit. I know all the words by heart and still have the 45” single. The clip is on YouTube. Musical gold. On the regular, I listen to Radio Paradise because of the broad range of back to back tracks.

Happiness is? 
Cake. Spirited dinners with friends who are great conversationalists. Long showers for thinking. Seeing a tiny green shoot of a plant in a human construct of bricks and mortar. It reminds me that Nature will right any wrongs human activity inflicts. Eventually.

What does the future hold for you?
Writing scripts and books. I have a series of stories to write for screen, print and audiobooks I call The Dirty Dozen To Do Before I Die. During a couple of covid lockdowns I finished drafting a transgressive mystery. It’s sitting at 156,000 words and in need of some serious editing. So in the future, I guess I’ll be killing my darlings.

Renée is the Writer & Director of Ticketyboo  – which screens as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival on Saturday 30 July at 3.20pm at Cinema Nova, Carlton and will be followed by a Q&A panel of some of Australia’s leading dementia experts who will be taking audience questions. For more information, visit: www.ticketyboofilm.org for details. Checkout the trailer here!

Image: Renée Brack (supplied)