A group of lucky locals were the first audience to see the new documentary film Slim & I at Majestic Cinemas Kempsey on Thursday night.
Slim Dusty holds a special place in the heart of Kempsey locals and it is fitting that the Australian and World Premiere of the feature documentary took place in Slim's hometown.
Also in attendance on the night were special guests including Slim's wife Joy McKean and their children Anne and David Kirkpatrick, director Kriv Stenders, producer Aline Jacques, music expert Glenn A Baker, Governor of New South Wales Margaret Beazley, Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey and Kempsey Shire Mayor Liz Campbell.
Slim & I tells the incredible story of a partnership between Slim Dusty and the brilliant woman who lived beside, rather than behind, the legend, Australia's own 'Queen of Country Music', Joy McKean.
"The documentary is the result of hard work. Many people worked to make sure it was made, it was a long road and is quite an achievement," Joy told the Argus.
"Slim was known as the boy from Nulla and it's very fitting to have the premiere here in Kempsey," she added.
Slim and Joy's partnership paved the way in the Australian country music genre. For over 50 years they trail-blazed their way across Australia performing, writing and collecting songs of the bush and its people.
They created a musical legacy that to this day continues to entertain and inspire, a catalogue of plain speaking yet profoundly insightful music documenting the rural Australian experience.
This new documentary, directed by Kriv Stenders, tells their story over the years.
"We were a very good fit together, he had strengths and so did I and we worked well together. We kept ourselves going," Joy said.
"He was the voice for ordinary people.
"He believed so much in his music. He was an ordinary person who did extraordinary things," Joy said.
"You both did extraordinary things," their son David added.
The documentary came about through the passion of Slim and Joy's grandson James Arneman, who had compiled an archive of old footage of the families touring days. The family was approached by film producer Chris Brown before director Kriv Stenders joined the project.
"The idea to tell their story through the lens of Joy was something that I found very interesting about this project and made me want to be involved the documentary," Kriv said.
"I knew very little about Slim and Joy, but I listened to their music and read the books about their lives and discovered such an incredible story that needed to be told.
"It was a privilege and a thrill to tell this story."
Kriv said holding the world premiere in Kempsey made the whole process come full circle.
"Holding the premiere here in Kemspey happened so fast, but it was meant to be. It's such a beautiful area and it's where it all started for Slim. I have a whole new appreciation for Kempsey," he said.
Included in the documentary and alongside archive footage of Slim, Joy and their children are home videos, shots from the 1984 Slim Dusty Movie and new footage of the Macleay Valley and Slim's childhood home.
Mayor Liz Campbell said Kemspey is very proud to have held the world premiere.
"It's something for us to celebrate. The connection our community has to Slim and Joy is very special and to be able to hold a premiere here in our own cinema is also a very special occasion," she said.
"It has been a hard year for us, but this is something to look forward to and celebrate."
Locals, along with Slim's family and film makers walked the red carpet before settling in to watch the documentary on the big screen. A Q&A was also held following the film with Joy, Anne, David, Kriv and Aline giving locals a chance to get an insight into how the documentary was made.
Kempsey Shire Council partnered with Universal Pictures Australia and Majestic Cinemas to make this event possible.
The documentary recently won Best Australian Film at the Gold Coast Film Festival Awards and will officially hit cinemas from September 10.