It's not every day you get to see a film about people from your hometown on the big screen while it is being launched nationally.
It is even less likely that you'll be sitting in the same audience as the main character.
On Sunday, October 10, I went to watch the bushfire documentary 'A Fire Inside' to write about the film for my paper Bega District News.
Having grown up in the Bega Valley and living in Jellat Jellat, I was naturally drawn to hearing the first-hand experience of senior deputy captain Nathan Barnden from the Jellat Rural Fire Brigade.
Little did I know that coming out of the cinema, I would have the chance to meet and discuss the movie with Nathan himself.
Like most people, reminders of the fires are mostly brought back by seeing or smelling smoke and I was worried seeing footage of the fires in the film might trigger some unsettling emotions.
I was apprehensive that this film might revolve around the re-telling of traumatic stories, but instead it focused on the incredible ways humanity rises up during times of crisis.
The film did a spectacular job of conveying the story less spoken, the story behind the RFS uniform and the long-term psychological impacts that our voluntary firefighters experience.
To say it brought a tear to my eye at least once is an understatement. I laughed, I cried, I smiled and above all I was inspired, truly inspired, by the remarkable acts of bravery I saw in this film.
Like all of us watching movies based on real life, it strikes us differently.
I think that's why none of us moved during the film, no-one even seemed interested in our popcorn, our eyes just glued to the screen.
While watching some of the most emotional scenes, I felt a tension about the room, an unspoken understanding as we watched and listened to the stories of people from our local community, the people we have to thank for their extraordinary acts of humanity.
This film serves as a reminder of these powerful stories, and most importantly it transmits the message that it is not only alright to speak up and seek support, but necessary after these hard and traumatic times.
With a subject as intense and close to home as this, this film needed to be sensitive and considerate in how they would recreate and retell the stories. I believe it excelled in doing so.
Nathan shares his thoughts on seeing the film on the big screen
Nathan said the film focuses on "what mattered", which he believes is the narrative of human behaviour and the ways people came together during times of crisis.
"I think that's what made it such a rewarding movie to be a part of, it really focused on why people did what they did," he said.
Nathan said taking part in this film has really helped him heal and process the things he experienced.
"It was actually quite a strange but unbelievably nice healing process for me, because it challenged me to look at my own mental health and where I was at, but also, it gave me an outlet to see some of the things that I probably wouldn't have seen."
Nathan said the firefighters were so busy on the frontline, they hadn't necessarily seen the "armies of volunteers" helping to feed people nor the ways communities came together to house individuals who lost their homes.
It was a very sensitive approach to how individuals coped, and in some cases, how people still aren't coping now.Nathan Barnden
"When you're a firefighter, and you're out doing your role across such an extended period of time, you don't get to see a lot of what the community is doing in the background," he said
"For me that was such a touching moment, to see people who I've grown up with or known in my own community, giving back in a time of absolute crisis."
Nathan said the team working for FINCH film production, had done a "good job of walking some very sensitive topics".
"Disasters like that is a hard thing to try and talk about, without pushing a climate change agenda either way, or walking the line of what agencies and governments did or didn't do," he said.
"They did really well to avoid those things and to focus on what mattered and that was the humanity of people and what people did in times of crisis."
Nathan thinks the film successfully portrayed the strength of community resilience as well as the psychological impacts of the fires.
"I think they've also done a really good job of portraying the way the community banded together, but also the way people were hurt without overstepping that line," Nathan said.
"It was a very sensitive approach to how individuals coped, and in some cases, how people still aren't coping now."
Nathan said he often feels that, for the right or wrong reasons, he has been fortunate, and unfortunate, to get extensive media coverage on his experiences with the rescues and the loss of his family. He hopes he can use it to help others.
"If I can use that, to help somebody else get the help they need or to make sure that people are better prepared for the next major fire season, then that makes it all worthwhile."
Nathan said the takeaway message is for people to feel inspired by the communities around them and to take care of each other.
"I really hope that people walk away with an understanding that life is fragile, and that every moment we do get to live, should be lived to its fullest."
A Fire Inside is screening at the Picture Show Man Twin Cinema in Merimbula.
Managing director of the cinema Jesse Tankard said there was no definitive end date set for screenings yet, but is hopeful to keep the film screening into November, and if possible in December for when non-vaccinated people can return to the cinema
Visit the cinema's website to find out about session times, and for bookings call 6495 3744.