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9.20pm Tuesday 27th November on
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Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel chronicles the final years of the Gatwick Private Hotel, a boarding house that over the years became a local and then national icon.

Shot over 4 years this intimate documentary reveals the day to day lives of proprietors Rose Banks and Yvette ‘Etty’ Kelly, twin sisters who worked at the hotel from the age of 14. Featuring residents and regular visitors of the hotel we meet fascinating characters that live on the fringes of a community undergoing gentrification.

Before a forced closure and sale in 2017 the building was halfway home to a few, home to many. Gatwick Private Hotel housed a rag tag menagerie of characters who either lived in, frequented or volunteered their time, all under the caring eyes of Rose and Etty, known locally as ‘The Saints of St Kilda’.

The Family
Bought by Vittoria and René Carbone in 1972, the Gatwick Private Hotel was run as a boarding house where Vittoria become loved and cherished, known fondly as ‘Queen Vicky’. Remembered for her compassion and motherly nature she passed away in 1998 and the family estate put the property up for sale. Wanting to continue their mother's legacy, Rose and Yvette bought the Gatwick back and continued running it like a family home for the less fortunate members of the community.

Rose Banks and Yvette Kelly had started working at the Gatwick when they were only 14 years old and dedicated their lives to it ever since. Always at peril of being shut down due to the inherent consequences of catering to the marginalised section of Melbourne’s community they continued to provide a home and beds to those who had nowhere else to go, up until 2017.

The feature documentary Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel opens the doors to this historical building, allowing the viewer a unique look into the lives and love that made this institution what it was. We are given unrestricted access to the sisters who became mothers to hundreds, selflessly opening their hearts and home to the disadvantaged for over 40 years.

The Story

“A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” – Nelson Mandela

Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel is an intimate, powerful and moving documentary that reveals the complex, surprising and fascinating characters behind the walls of what from the outside looks like a beaten-down building that is well past it’s golden years. Rose Banks and Yvette Kelly offered their tenants much more than a roof over their heads, and Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel is as much a loving tribute to the sisters as it is a contemplation of dignity and the challenges faced by modern society to deal with a rising epidemic: Homelessness and mental health.

If you ask a Melburnian about the Gatwick Private Hotel, you will most likely get a variation on the same reaction: it’s a bad place that brings trouble, it’s haunted, sinister, filthy, replete with murder and crime. The boarding house has picked up a barrage of negative publicity over the years and has even been referred to as ‘The Hotel of Horrors’. A number of people wanted it shut down.

But look deeper, ask around locally in St. Kilda and you come across a lot of people with a different story. Those with fond memories of the building, of the friends and family they made there, or most likely of all, someone with heartfelt praise and adoration for Queen Vicky and Aunties Rose and Etty. These strong women leave behind a legacy of compassion that is so sorely missed in Australian society that it is hard to believe until you have spent 4 years inside these walls as we had the privilege of doing.

The Sale

The sisters sold the Gatwick in 2017 to an undisclosed buyer. In 2018 the new owners were revealed to be the Nine Network, producers of popular renovation series The Block.

The Banks and Kelly family’s legacy of compassion is engrained in this building and when all of it (except for the exterior façade) was torn down and rebuilt by The Block the twins mourned the loss of the building like any other family member.

Walking down Fitzroy Street with her grandchildren months after the sale and hand over, Yvette was compelled to buy a piece of the family’s legacy back after one of the children pointed at the closed building and asked, ‘There’s Nanny’s house, can we pop in?’

When The Block apartments went under the hammer on October 28th, 2018, the sisters bid and won one of the five that were up for aution.

The sisters intend to retire in the apartment and spend their last years in the building that brought so much love, laughter and joy to their lives for over fifty years. ‘Every window has a story’, said Rose.

The Saints of St. Kilda

Rose and Yvette see the residents of the Gatwick as their children, or, in their own words: “They’re all somebody’s children, and they’re our children now”.

The place was both a fortress and a community. Once you crossed the front steps, you were in a completely different time and space: an outpost from yesteryear, a quirky village, a microcosm of poets, lovers, revellers and dreamers. Nobody is outcast. Everybody belongs.

Once offered over seven million dollars for the Gatwick, the sisters turned it down in order to continue doing what they loved. For decades the building had provided shelter, community and a home in which every single person was welcome and accepted. They housed over 80 residents and unsurprisingly, the rooms (and hallways) were always full.

Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel is a non-for-profit film. Proceeds and donations will be forwarded to our charity partner on the project – Launch Housing. Please follow the link to donate.

ABC & The Difference Engine  in association with  +ape  and  Guilty
presents  Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel

A Documentary by   JASON BYRNE
Editor   Sara Edwards    Cinematographer  Jaque Fisher    Additional Directing  Luci Schroder    Original Score  Dmitri Golovko    Original Idea  Ange Schistan & Katie Graham    Colourist & Online Editor  Thanassi Panagiotaras    Sound Design  Paul Shanahan    Sound Producer  Pip Wright    Additional Cinematography  Michael Latham, Aaron Farrugia & David Guest    Executive Producers  Julia Adams & Hugh Nairn    Executive Producer, ABC  Leo Faber    Head of Factual, ABC  Steve Bibb    Co-Producer  Julian Vincent Costanzo    Producer  Jason Byrne   

This film would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, thank you.

The Difference Engine     +ape     GUILTY

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A very special thanks to Rose Banks, Yvette Kelly and their family (both the residents and kin) for letting us into their home and allowing us to tell their story.