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submitted by Kytherian Cultural Exchange on 18.05.2009

Tony De Bolfo

Tony De Bolfo - De Bolfo head shot

ONE - The author behind the story of the journey of the Dall’Italia All’Australia

Tony De Bolfo

A journalist and author by profession, Tony De Bolfo has contributed articles to newspapers almost from the time he left school in 1980.

For two decades he was employed as a sportswriter for major metropolitan dailies including The Australian and The Herald Sun. A lifelong supporter of the Carlton Football Club, Tony has also penned the biographies of former club champions Stephen Kernahan and Stephen Silvagni. He is currently contracted to Carlton to pen the club’s defining history for a book due for release in late 2009.

In 1994, after an enriching conversation with his late great uncle Igino De Bolfo about the latter’s migration to Australia in November 1927, Tony resolved to find out what became of the 105 others who disembarked the SS Re d’Italia with Igino and his two brothers. Eight years later, his tome In Search Of Kings was published.

This experience, coupled with two pilgrimages to his grandfather’s Northern Italian hometown of Campitello, San Nicoló in 1988 and 1999, had a profound effect upon Tony, awakening an interest in his Italian heritage. In the years since he has contributed to the Italian Historical Society’s newsletter and to the magazine, Italy Down Under, and in 2004 discovered the silent film Dall’Italia All’Australia.

Tony lives in the inner city Melbourne suburb of Preston with his wife Kate and children Carlo, Sofia and Estella.

About the film

In 1924, the acclaimed Italian film producer Stefano Pittaluga commissioned director Angelo Drovetti to embark on an epic voyage of some 8000 nautical miles, armed with his trusted movie camera.

The end result is the film Dall’Italia All’Australia (From Italy to Australia), regarded by Melbourne’s Italian Historical Society as “the most comprehensive film of the migrant voyage known to be in existence”.

Dall’Italia All’Australia, a black and white silent film of 60 minutes duration, first screened in Italy in May 1925. Eighty years later, to the glorious accompaniment of the Melbourne Town Hall’s grand pipe organ, Dall’Italia All’Australia premiered on the Australian screen. And now, its flickering images are brought to life by the rich, heartfelt sounds of I Viaggiatori (The Voyagers).

Dall’Italia All’Australia chronicles the voyage of the Regina d’Italia (Queen of Italy) - one of three passenger ships first built for the Lloyd Sabaudo Line at the turn of last century.

The film showcases the panoramic views witnessed by Italian, Yugoslav, Greek, Arabic and Jewish migrants as they stood atop the deck of the old steamer during their seven-week world odyssey from Genoa to Australia, by way of Egypt and Sri Lanka, arriving in September 1924.

Drovetti went ashore at Colombo to film the place and its people, and later Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. As a result, some remarkable footage appears in this film, including Flinders Street Station, Sydney Harbor (before the bridge) and Tooronga Park Zoo.

While almost one-third of Dall’Italia All’Australia comprises footage of this nation in the 1920s it had never before been seen by an Australian audience. This was because Drovetti remained aboard the Regina d’Italia at its final port of Brisbane, returning to Italy with his precious film.

Melbourne Journalist and author Tony De Bolfo stumbled onto the existence of Dall’Italia All’Australia through his research for a book entitled In Search of Kings (Harper CollinsPublishers) - dealing with what became of 108 passengers including his grandfather Silvio De Bolfo and his brothers Francesco and Igino - who disembarked the steamship Re d’Italia (King of Italy) in Melbourne in November 1927. The Re d'Italia was the flagship of the Lloyd Sabaudo Line, which included the vessels Principe di Piemonte and Regina d’Italia (featuring in this film).

Tony discovered the existence of Dall’Italia All’Australia after scouring a website for the Bologna Silent Film Festival where the film was screened in 2003. He subsequently contacted festival organisers about Dall’Italia All’Australia and was referred to the Fondazione Cineteca Italiana in Milan, the film’s custodians. The foundation kindly made the film available – perhaps reflecting the spirit of goodwill that now exists after Milan and Melbourne recently struck a three-year sister city agreement.

Tony’s determination to deliver Dall’Italia All’Australia quite literally from Italy to Australia was based on a belief that the film not only commanded enormous Australian historical value, but would also resonate with the many Australians who have an empathy for the courage of the migrant and who share his and the musicians’ excitement in being part of a most unique event.

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