Antonio Zeccola is a man whose life-long passion for film has lead him to build Australia’s only national art-house cinema network, theatrically release some of Australia and the world’s most iconic films, and has positioned him amongst the most highly respected people in the Australian film and cinema industry today.
Antonio is the Founder, Owner and Managing Director of Australia’s leading quality film distributor Palace Films, and the world’s largest network of independent cinemas Palace Cinemas, which includes screens across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.
Antonio’s passion for cinema began at a very early age and is a journey that started in the small town of Muro Lucano in Italy, where his father ran films in the local town hall. A story with striking resemblance to Tonatore’s cinematic classic Cinema Paradiso, Antonio took the passion instilled in him by his father and brought it with him when he immigrated to Australia in the late fifties.
From the town halls of Melbourne’s suburbs in the early sixties, Antonio provided the local communities with films imported from Italy. He ran his first cinema, the Pix in 1963, and soon after, while running the Metropolitan cinema with his brother in Brunswick, built a large following of people from all walks of society with a thirst for quality foreign-language cinema options.
The success was followed by development of the Palace cinema, on Bourke Street, which lent its name to a network of his cinemas still expanding today. This has also included the salvation and restoration of some of Australia’s most beloved cultural icons including Sydney’s Chauvel and Melbourne’s Westgarth cinemas.
While always casting a respectful eye to the past, Antonio is nothing if not forward-thinking. In an age of constantly changing technology, and in an industry that embraces innovation, Antonio has ensured his cinemas have remained at the forefront of technological developments, always taking advantage of the opportunities new technology can offer and remaining committed to offering the best product in the best possible way.
His cinemas are the home of Australia’s leading international film festivals, which attract audiences of thousands of world cinema enthusiasts every year. These include the Italian Film Festival, Spanish Film Festival, Greek Film Festival, French Film Festival, German Film Festival, Israeli Film Festival, Russian Film Festival and many others.
For over forty-five years Antonio has also brought countless world-class films to screens across Australia and New Zealand via the distribution arm of his company Palace Films, which specialises in niche films, foreign-language and high-quality mainstream films.
Antonio personally selects films of the highest quality at international markets each year, including the Cannes, Berlin and Venice Film Festivals. From such selections, Palace Films has continually represented the work of pioneering visionaries, world masters and risk-taking new talent, offering an eclectic mix of award-winning, intelligent and distinctive productions from across the globe which includes films from Ang Lee, Atom Egoyan, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrew Dominik, Julie Bertuccelli, Jacques Audiard, Nanni Moretti, Ray Lawrence, Lars Von Trier, Lisa Cholodenko, Derek Cianfrance, Olivier Assayas, Bahman Ghobadi, Rolf de Heer, Claude Berri, Sue Brooks, Wong Kar-Wai, Giuseppe Tornatore and Michael Winterbottom, to name a few.
Antonio has also proved a strong commitment to nurturing Australian product through the distribution of such titles as Chopper, Lantana and Japanese Story. He has been credited as Executive Producer of several Australian productions, including Australian Rules and Alexandra’s Project, which enjoyed its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival 2002.
Antonio’s contributions to the cinema and film industries as a whole have played a deeply significant role in shaping the Australian cultural landscape. His outstanding influence was also acknowledged further afield when in 2005 he was awarded the title of “Cavaliere” by the Republic of Italy, in recognition of his promotion of Italian culture in Australia.
From the very beginning, Antonio’s aspirations in the industry have been family focused. Along with his wife Karen, all four children – Antony, Benjamin, Elysia and Stephanie – work assiduously alongside Antonio, exuding a passion and devotion that was instilled in them from an early age.
Through the tireless work of Antonio and his dedicated family, the Zeccola name has become synonymous with passion, excellence, style and substance, and this is the legacy Antonio has built over a lifetime dedicated to the craft he loves.
For information about Palace cinemas: www.palacecinemas.com.au
For information about Palace Films: www.palacefilms.com.au