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Post-production   /  Carla Thackrah

The Last Violin

When Romano asks retired master violinmaker, Harry Vatiliotis, to make a last violin a heart-warming story unfolds


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Carla Thackrah

  • PRODUCER Carla Thackrah & Romano Crivici



Charalambos Vatiliotis, or Harry, is considered Australia's greatest living violin maker. He and his wife Maria came from Cyprus in the 1950s.
Romano Crivici, a professional violinist and composer, has known Harry for 48 years.
Together they share the making of Romano's last violin which also threatens to be Harry's last, as the ravages of old age take their toll.

Shot in the one location - the home in the suburbs of Sydney which Harry and Maria have shared and barely left for over 60 years - the director has spent many days over many months charting the making of Harry and Romano's last violin within the context of the love, friendship and care that each of the three protagonists shares. The director has been hands-off and observational, capturing the intimate and meditative process of hand-making a fine violin from a few rough pieces of wood together with the, often comical, relational interactions between Harry, his wife, and Romano their friend of many years. An important element is the exquisite score by Romano Crivici performed on Harry's instruments.

Support this project

4.17% funded
  • $24,000.00

  • $1,000.00

  • February 2022

  • 1

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Victor von der Heyde $1,000.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The skill of hand making a fine violin in the traditional way is a dying art; even more so in Australia where the tradition has never had time to develop. The beauty of traditional skills in this increasingly digital world and the positive contribution of European migration to Australia is highlighted in this intimate observational arts documentary. The story is told within the context of enduring love, friendship and dealing with the disabilities that come with old age. All these issues are touched on in this gentle look at the life of Harry, master violin maker, as he and his wife near the end of their lives.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

With a pandemic still raging, the world is becoming increasingly focused on politics and money. The arts are suffering inordinately. The filmmakers would like this documentary to balance the increasing commercialisation, popularisation and the focus on celebrity in the arts by slowing us down to allow time to take in the beauty of human relationships, traditional arts skills and appreciate the wonder that we can create with our own hands and hearts.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

The filmmakers wish to increase the appreciation of the slow arts of traditional instrument making, and by extension, traditional hand-making of any kind, thereby opening the eyes of many to a world that exists beyond instant digital gratification.

The stunning score written by the co-producer Romano Crivici will reveal a deep creative synergy between composer, performer and instrument maker.

In revealing the consummate mastery of Harry constructing his last violin, the viewers will see first-hand how migrants can achieve amazing things as Harry's recent recognition in the Queen's Birthday Honours illustrates.

And as a backdrop to it all, the audience will see that despite the difficulties of disability and old age, enduring love and care can, and will, flourish.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

We have begun this process by creating an enduring and beautiful record of the work of an Australian master sharing his thoughts and techniques based on 70 years of experience. Making this film available to as wide an audience as possible will further the process. Harry Vatiliotis was the recipient of an award in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours recognised for his outstanding service to musical instrument making since the 1950s. Our audience is both the general public interested in a significant Greek/Australian as well as those interested in music and musical instrument making. We hope to influence future generations who will take inspiration from Harry.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

This is an independent production co-produced by the Director and Composer. We are working together with Harry and Maria, the subjects of the film, who want to make a lasting legacy of Harry's work for future generations. Our relationship with Harry and Maria has directed the course of this production because their day to day life over the many months of filming has created the story and all its elements.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

By gaining a greater insight into the life of an artist of Harry's stature, skill and experience the filmmakers are confident our viewers will develop a greater appreciation of finely crafted instruments made in the traditional way. In particular, we hope to inspire and empower a new generation of young people to take on this craft and develop a uniquely Australian tradition.
In countering the bias against modern instruments, we hope to encourage a new generation of musicians, as the price range of the older instruments grows exponentially, to appreciate the quality of finely made new instruments.
In revealing the difficulties and joys of caring for a loved one with failing health, we hope to assure our viewers they are not alone if they encounter similar issues in their lives.
Ultimately, we wish for all to stop and experience - to listen, to see, and to become involved in the beauty of the real world rather than the virtual.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

We hope our audience will leave a screening uplifted and moved by the beauty of music, creativity and love. Our long-term goals, however, won't be achieved in the immediate aftermath because they require systemic change. Perhaps future governments might show an appreciation of the arts by increasing funding and support to the sector. Is it stretching the realms of credibility to suggest, for example, that government leaders, the media, broadcasters and influencers might report with excited voices, the presentation of a new work by an Australian composer rather than the results of a sports game? Or that the preparation and results of a creative world tour are followed with the same intensity as the Olympics. Or for our broadcasters to highlight programming concerned with fine arts rather than programs that have 'primetime, commercial appeal' as they do now. Perhaps, with more exposure, arts programs will, in the future, also have primetime, commercial appeal!