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2 x 1 hour documentary in co-production with Brook Lapping Productions for ABC, ITV and BBC WorldwidePlay Clip
Rupert Murdoch built a global media empire starting with a single newspaper in 1950s Australia. This series explores his ruthless expansion and deal making, the billions he made and lost, and the reputations he built and destroyed in his never-ending quest to become the undisputed king of newspapers, Hollywood films, and global television.
A media mogul in the making, the young Rupert Murdoch returns home from England following the death of his father, and launches himself into the family business - the Wild West world of Australian newspapers. He survives and commences to build a powerful media empire, News Corporation, across Australia, the UK and USA. During this time he promotes political favourites, battles the UK print unions, and takes his empire to the brink of collapse.
The colossal gamble on the UK Pay TV channel Sky nearly sinks News Corporation under a mountain of debt. But Murdoch raises more money and Sky sports become a huge success. He then spends years and more millions in battle with Australian rival Kerry Packer, trying to set up a rival Rugby Super-League. He is courted by political leaders, tries and fails to conquer China, but has a hit in the USA with Fox News, The Simpsons, and sports coverage. With a new wife and young family, he faces survival once again - over the UK phone hacking scandal.Murdoch
screened on SBS1 at 8.30pm on Sunday, 5th and 12th May, 2013. The DVD will be available from 31 May, 2013 from EP Independent at www.epindependent.com
A 76 minute documentary made by Grace McKenzie. Developed and Produced with the assistance of Screen Australia, Produced by Electric Pictures
Audrey of the Alps Website
Audrey Douville left her childhood home at 16 to pursue farming. Now as a young woman, accompanied by her boyfriend Maxime, Audrey undertakes five months of isolated living high in the French Alps. They are there to watch over 1700 sheep and some goats. She is largely unprepared for what happens, as her romantic sojourn in the mountains becomes a struggle to deal with physical hardship, the cruelties of peasant-style farming, and conflicts with her partner. The film traces Audrey's spectacular journey across the French Alps.
Winner First Factual Film Festival (F4) Awards representing Australia's most promising emerging factual filmmakers 2013.
Nominated St. Tropez International Film Festival for Best Foreign Documentary 2013.
Winner ADG Awards for Best Direction in a Documentary Feature 2013.
What the F4 Judges had to sayKathleen Drum, Head of Marketing Screen Australia, spoke on behalf of the Jury for the 2013 F4 Award for outstanding new documentary talent.
My distinguished colleagues on the Jury are Jane Balfour, Kerry Heysen, Ben Tsiang and Scott Hicks. We were honoured to be given the opportunity to watch the four finalists for this year's Award. Our biggest challenge - being to choose only one - amongst an impressive line-up of documentaries. Our task was not to select the best film - but rather the filmmaker who told their story best - and in doing so, to signal the arrival of an emerging Australian talent with a great future ahead of them. In Audrey and the Alps, director Grace McKenzie delivers an honest, unobtrusive and simple portrait of a young Parisienne woman's life, who has swapped the big city for the challenges of shepherding sheep in a spectacular and remote French alpine region.
Our decision was not easy, and each documentary was considered carefully by the Jury.
This year's F4 winner is Grace McKenzie for Audrey of the Alps. Her understanding of the quiet rhythms of life is simply and beautifully portrayed through Audrey's story. The viewer's experience is almost meditative, and therefore entirely in tune with the theme of the film.
2 x 1 hour documentary in co-production with Nutopia for ABC, BBC Scotland and BBC WorldwidePlay ClipSalesDesert War
is an exciting, insightful and subtly revisionist account of one of the most celebrated campaigns of the Second World War. Centered on the siege of Tobruk and the battle for El Alamein, this 2-part series peels back the official history to reveal jaw-dropping personal stories from the front lines, brought to life in searing drama documentary footage. It also explores the complex links between political leaders, senior commanders and intelligence services, which continually influenced the campaign. The fame of German General Erwin Rommel is reassessed in the light of the incredible story of a little-known Axis espionage triumph that delivered detailed summaries of Allied strengths, weaknesses and deployments into Rommel's hands - with terrible consequences for those fighting for their lives in the desert. Desert War
screened on BBC2 Scotland in November 2012 and on ABC1 in Australia in April 2013.
The DVD is available now within Australia and for international buyers. To purchase DVDs please visit the EP Independent website at www.epindependent.com or click on Sales
1 hour documentary in co-production with Brook Lapping made for ABC and BBCPlay ClipSalesChateau Chunder A Wine Revolution
is a witty and entertaining documentary that tells the recent history of Australian wine, revealing how a small group of enterprising Australian winemakers took on the elitist world of wine ... and won. Full of amusing anecdotes and fascinating insights, we see how changing the way Aussie wine was made and marketed transformed it from ridicule - 'not for drinking but for laying down and avoiding' - into an extraordinary international success story.
The DVD of Chateau Chunder A Wine Revolution
is available now within Australia and for international buyers. To purchase DVDs please visit the EP Independent website at www.epindependent.com or click on Sales
Awards: Nominated for Best Editing in a Documentary, AACTA Awards, 2013.
2 x 1 hour documentary made for SBS (Australia), BBC Scotland (UK) and Discovery Networks Asia-PacificPlay ClipSales
A 70th anniversary television event, Singapore 1942 End of Empire tells the story of those early shocking days of the Pacific War when belief in security and comfort from empire collapsed. For the first time this momentous 20th century battle, and its equally dramatic aftermath, is told from a multi-national perspective, revealing new and challenging insights into a battle that turned our world upside down. Whilst the Japanese victory confirmed how useless it was for Australians to rely on Britain for their defence, post-war Australians looked to another great protective power - the United States - to align itself with. And Asian nations would rapidly determine their own destiny and seek a tumultuous independence.
In 1941, the Japanese Imperial Army invades Malaya. The battle hardened Japanese forces quickly push Commonwealth troops - English, Indians, Australians, Scots, Chinese and Malays - south towards the key British trading port of Singapore. General Yamashita prepares to assault the so-called 'impregnable fortress' igniting already simmering ethnic and political tensions in the colony. Australia, for the first time, finds itself directly threatened.
Japanese Imperial Army soldiers pour onto Singapore Island under the skilful command of General Yamashita. They quickly break through a flimsy line of raw Australian troops, outmanoeuvre General Percival and drive his combined Commonwealth forces back to the Singapore city. Indian soldiers, seeking independence, join the Japanese and fire on their former masters. Australians leave their posts while Malays and Chinese divide along political and ethnic lines. The British finally begin evacuating Singapore but priority is given to the safety of whites. A tipping point is reached - the fall of all the colonial empires throughout the region is now inevitable. Australia is dragged kicking and screaming to the Asian table.
Awards: Nominated for Best Documentary Series, AACTA Awards, 2013.Nominated for Best Sound in a Documentary, AACTA Awards, 2013.
1 hour documentary in co-production with Screen Australia and Wawili Pitjas for the ABCPlay ClipSales
Jandamarra's War is the story of an Aboriginal warrior who led one of the most effective rebellions in the history of indigenous peoples' resistance to European colonization. In 1894, Jandamarra led a rebellion against invading pastoralists in defence of his people's ancient land and culture. Until his death in brutal retribution, this formidable Bunuba warrior waged a 3-year guerilla war, earning him both the admiration of his people and international notoriety.
Awards: Winner Best Documentary under One Hour, AACTA Awards, 2012.
Winner Best Docudrama and Best Biography, ATOM Awards, 2011.
Winner, Silver Award for Dramatised Documentaries, Allan Collins, Australian Cinematographers Society Awards (WA), 2011.
Nominated for Best Film, Deadly Awards, 2011.
Nominated for Best Cinematography in a Documentary and Best Sound in a Documentary, AACTA Awards, 2011.
Nominated for Blue Post Award for Best Editing in a Documentary, Lawrie Silvestrin, Australian Screen Editors Award, 2011.
Nominated for Best Music in a Documentary, Ash Gibson Greig and Petris Torres, Screen Music Awards, 2011.
Selected for Official Competition, FIFO (Pacific International Documentary Film Festival, 2012.
2 x 1 hour and 1 x 90 minute documentary in co-production with Brook Lapping made for SBS (Australia), RTE (Ireland), WDR (Germany), More4 (UK), DR (Denmark), NRK (Norway), NTR (Netherlands), SVT (Sweden), VRT (Belgium), and YLE Teema (Finland)Play ClipSales
Everyone either loves or hates the cheesy tunes and outlandish costumes of the Eurovision Song Contest. But is there more to it than meets the eye? This program is the history of modern Europe told entirely through the story of its favourite television show. It shows how a singing competition reflected decades of political and cultural change. And it reveals that - now and again - Eurovision itself has made history. Mixing politics with pop and real international intrigue, this winning blend of humour and insight peers beyond the glitz and the sparkle to show that sometimes sequins and key changes can be as powerful as barbed wire and tanks.
1 hour documentary in co-production with DocLab (Italy) for SBS, Screen Australia, ScreenWest, ARTE (France), RAI (Italy), WDR (Germany), UR SwedenPlay ClipSales
For hundreds of years, human skin colour has been used as a marker of race. Now, science is uncovering the intricate relationship between skin colour and environment. When our ancient ancestors in Equatorial Africa lost their body hair and ventured out into the open savannah, their skin had to become dark to resist strong UV radiation. Perfectly adapted to the environment, the black skin of Africans is one of Nature's greatest achievements for the survival of the human species.
This may not sound new, but in 2000, Penn State University anthropologist Nina Jablonski proposed a startling new explanation as to why human skin has so many colours. Her study suggested that pigmentation did not evolve to prevent skin cancer, but primarily to help the human body maintain the right balance of two crucial vitamins essential for reproduction and body development. As a result, skin colour developed as a perfect compromise: allowing enough sunlight to stimulate the production of Vitamin D, but screening the body from harmful rays that destroy folic acid - a vitamin necessary for reproductive success.
Focusing on ground-breaking research and personal accounts of scientists around the world, this documentary reveals that the evolution of skin colour is solely an adaptation to the environment. It drives home a powerful message: judging people on the basis of colour is not only morally unacceptable, it is scientifically wrong.
Awards: Nominated as a Finalist for United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Award, 2011.
Selected for screening at Pariscience, International Science Film Festival, 2011.
Selected for the Travelling Festival Program and Official Competition, SCINEMA, 2011.
1 hour documentary made for the ABCPlay ClipSales
In 1954 a young Queen Elizabeth captured the heart of a nation and since then, despite some rocky moments, the romance has endured for many Australians - albeit with an uncertain future for the monarchy after Elizabeth. Whether they voted for monarchy or president at the 1999 republic referendum, it seems most Australians do like their Queen.
A Royal Romance explores our unique relationship to Queen Elizabeth via interviews with three former Australian Prime Ministers, republican and monarchist, ordinary Australians who cheered her on the streets of their cities and towns and those close to the Queen in her royal household. There are some exceptional Australian icons; Germaine Greer shows how well she can curtsy, Rolf Harris plays Waltzing Matilda as he did on the streets of London during Elizabeth's coronation, and former republican Prime Minister Paul Keating reveals his fond admiration for a monarch he wanted to sack.
This unique documentary program - created for a prime time audience - takes an informed and affectionate look back at Queen Elizabeth's relationship with her Australian Realm and its people. Our story charts the rise of the Monarch's popular rapport with Australians since 1954 and the significant role she has played in our shared history. Beyond the politics, the brou-ha-ha, and rights and wrongs of our current constitutional relationship to Queen Elizabeth, Australians maintain a soft spot in their hearts for their aging Monarch.
The first Australian documentary on this subject for many years, A Royal Romance is history brought to life in a winning blend of nostalgia and analysis, anecdote and charm that captures the changing mood of the nation as we retrace the Queen's reign for the past 55 years.
1 hour documentary in co-production with Furnace Limited (UK) for ABC, ABC Commercial, Channel Four (UK), History Channel (UK), Thirteen and WNET/PBS (USA), Discovery Asia and CBC (Canada)Play ClipSales
Survivors of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks tell how modern communications saved them - and aided the men who were hunting them.
On 26th November 2008, ten young Pakistani men sailed into Mumbai, India's thriving financial heart and home of the Bollywood film industry. The men were armed with AK47s, grenades and plastic explosives, as well as satellite phones and global positioning systems connecting them to their controllers. They spread out across the city. Quick fire strikes on the Victoria Station Railway Station, the busiest train terminus in India, the legendary Leopold Café and Cama Hospital saw more than a hundred dead in only an hour. But this was just the beginning. The gunmen had come for a longer engagement, in targets chosen to grab and hold the world's attention: the historic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, the ultra moden 5 star Oberoi-Trident Hotel and Jewish Community centre, Nariman House. Sixty hours later, the Indian security forces brought the attacks to a close.
Surviving Mumbai brings together candid and very personal accounts from the ordinary and extraordinary people who were caught up in the siege.
Winner, Bronze Award for Dramatised Documentaries, Jim Frater, Australian Cinematographers Society Awards (WA), 2011.
Nominated for Best Current Affairs Production, History Makers 2011.
Nominated for Lotterywest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Factual Production, WASA, 2011.
Certificate of Merit, Documentary: Social Political, 2010 Hugo Television Awards, 46th Chicago International Film Festival.
Nominated for Best Documentary Under One Hour, Samsung Mobile AFI Awards, 2010.
Nominated for Best Cinematography in a Documentary, Jim Frater, Samsung Mobile AFI Awards, 2010.
Nominated for Best Editing in a Documentary, David Fosdick, Samsung Mobile AFI Awards, 2010.
Nominated for Outstanding Historical Programming, The 31st Annual Emmy Awards for News and Documentary, 2010.
Nominated for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research, The 31st Annual Emmy Awards for News and Documentary, 2010.
Selected for Screening at La Femme Film Festival 2010, California.
3 x 1 hour documentary series in co-production with Radio Telefis Eireann for ABC, RTE (Ireland) and S4C (Wales)Addicted to Money WebsitePlay ClipSales
Everything you need to know about what caused the financial meltdown, what lies ahead, and what we all need to do to survive in the new economy.
In his typically pugnacious style, Irish economist and commentator David McWilliams surveys the wreckage of the global economy and points to the worrying, but potentially transformative challenges ahead. It is both a story of shocking collective failure and a rallying call for change. David travels the world, from Europe to Iceland to China, the US, Australia and Latin America surveying the wreckage that has been caused by the great meltdown.
He discovers that this was a crisis that was avoidable, yet ironically necessary if we are to deal with the real challenge that lies just over the horizon: creating an economy that can sustain our society for the long term.
EPISODE 1 - WHO KILLED THE ECONOMY?
David McWilliams undertakes his own personal investigation to uncover who is responsible for destroying our economy. Along the way he assembles clues to discover evidence of a drugs syndicate. The drug is "easy credit" and the story is about the global addiction to the euphoric yet addictive side effects of credit; the enormous money to be made pushing the drug and the global crime gangs which emerged in the boom to fight for control over the supply of credit.
EPISODE 2 - NOWHERE TO HIDE
We journey through economic badlands as David McWilliams gives us his diagnosis; the world's economy has suffered a heart attack and we're all in shock. We travel to the far ends of the globe, witnessing the fallout on people and businesses and discover that because of the intricate links in the global economic chain, events in one country can have massive ramifications in another country, even though both countries appear to be totally unrelated to each other. From China to Iceland, the US to the UK, Australia to Ireland, people's lives have been forever changed and there is nowhere to hide.
EPISODE 3 - PEAK EVERYTHING
Ahead we face a series of complex challenges, which threaten our way of life. It's like a computer game where there are dangers at every turn: initially we must come to terms with the reality of the economic slowdown: fewer jobs, less cash, greater uncertainty. Just ahead lies "peak everything": dwindling supplies of oil, diminished world food production and, in many places, seriously depleted water and soil. And just over the horizon, perhaps the greatest threat of all, awaits a climate that is becoming increasingly inhospitable to humanity.
Nominated for Most Innovative Production, History Makers 2011.
Nominated for Best Documentary Series, Samsung Mobile AFI Awards, 2010.
Nominated for Best Direction in a Documentary Series, Australian Director's Guild Awards, 2010.
Nominated for Documentary: Public Broadcast AWGIE (Australian Writer's Guild) Awards, 2010.
Winner, Silver Award, Documentaries, Cinema and TV, Ulrich-Stephan Krazik, Australian Cinematography Society Awards for Western Australia, 2010
Selected for Competition, Guangzhou International Documentary Festival, 2010.
The Great Escape: The Reckoning (2009)1 hour dramatised documentary in co-production with Brook Lapping Productions (UK) for ABC, Channel 4 (UK) and History Channel (UK)
The true story of the hunt for the Nazi murderers of history's Great Escapers.
A small group of RAF Policemen plunge into the chaos of post-war Germany to hunt down the murderers of 50 Allied Airmen - Great Escapers from a prison camp in Nazi Germany.
In March 1944, 76 Allied Airmen broke out of Stalag Luft III, a prison camp in central Germany, in an action made famous by Hollywood movie, The Great Escape . Seventy-three of the Great Escapers were recaptured and then fifty of them were murdered by the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo. In retribution, an outraged British Government promised "exemplary justice". Three months after the war ended, Squadron Leader Frank McKenna took a small band of RAF Police into the chaos of post-war Germany and began to hunt down the men responsible.
The Great Escape: The Reckoning combines dramatic recreations of key moments in the investigation with revealing documentary commentary. Surviving Great Escapers and specialist historians outline the extraordinary details of the escape, the brave men who made it, and the brutal manner of their execution. And in a poignant and compelling interview, we hear from a 73 year old German woman, whose beloved father was one of the Gestapo officers hanged for the murders.
Nominated for Best Historical Drama Production, History Makers 2011.
Winner, Gold Award for Dramatised Documentaries, Jim Frater, Australian Cinematography Society Awards for Western Australia 2009.
Winner, Golden Tripod, Dramatised Documentaries, Australian Cinematographers Society National Awards 2010.
Skippy: Australia's First Superstar (2009)1 hour documentary in co-production with Brook Lapping Productions (UK) for ABC, BBC and NRK
Everybody remembers Skippy the Bush Kangaroo - the family show about the kid and the kangaroo was sold in 128 countries and watched by hundreds of millions worldwide, showing for the first time that Australian stories could and did find a worldwide audience.
The film explores how Skippy was created in the cultural wasteland of 1960s Australia and importantly, how it came to represent an entire nation for millions of viewers around the world.
As well as key moments from the series and unseen footage from behind the scenes, the film features interviews with key cast and crew, including Garry Pankhurst (Sonny Hammond) who talks for the first time of his experiences as the one time most famous kid in the world. There is also a world exclusive interview with Skippy herself, whose sardonic wit and lingering ego make for revealing, and at times controversial viewing.
Skippy: Australia's First Superstar also pays an appropriate homage to the every day members of the public who enjoyed the show each week, by talking to them in the street about their memories and stories of Skippy, and discovers why the show holds such a special place in the hearts of so many.
Winner, Best Local Feature Documentary, 2009 Sydney Morning Herald 11th Annual Couch Potato Awards.
Cracking the Colour Code aka Le Monde des Couleurs (2008)3 x 1 hour documentary series in co-production with Gedeon Programmes (France) for SBS, ARTE, S4C, AVRO, Planete, RTBF, Tele-Quebec, TV Ontario, TV5 Monde and YLE Teema
An unprecedented global journey to explore the frontiers of how we view colour, make colour and use the power of colour to communicate meaning.
Colour is a fundamental part of our world. Landscapes, animals, fashion, painting, movies, food - everything around us resonates with the language of colour. All our waking lives - and even in our dreams - we navigate our way through a world of colour. Yet, whoever we are, colour has the power to stop us in our tracks - and to make us wonder.
Why is the sky blue? Why do leaves turn yellow in autumn? And why does red play so powerful a role in so many cultures? Is colour real or is it just a construct of our brains?
Drawing on the latest scientific findings and technology, Cracking the Colour Code is a series for people who are seeking answers to many of the questions that relate to colour and who, at the same time, wish to enjoy the incredible diversity and sensation that colour has to offer in our world.
While colour is a child of science and physics, it triggers within us a host of emotional, intuitive and intellectual responses - deeply rooted within ourselves and our culture. The series is both food for the intellect and the senses - delivered as a carefully arranged and orchestrated feast, yet one that is playful and provocative.
Based on three years of extensive research, Cracking the Colour Code draws on a range of disciplines and leading experts - including physicists, neurologists, artists, ethnologists, colour consultants, historians, artisans and marketing executives - each in some way intimately concerned with the nature and power of colour. Each offers insights - even new discoveries - that will challenge our understanding of colour.
From the stunning capabilities of the eye and brain to the story of how we've come to view the world as we do; from ancient ochre cave paintings to mimicking the iridescence of butterfly wings; and from India's holi festival to one of the world's leading colour forecasters, Cracking the Colour Code takes you on three unique journeys, making for spectacular, ground breaking television.
The central focus of this episode is the nature of colour. It draws on the latest science to find out how - and why - humans and other living things view the world in colour. For those of us who can see colour, it is fundamental to our existence. The question is where does this mysterious force originate and do we all see colour the same way?
Colour is fundamental to expressing who we are and our place in the world. From our most ancient cultures to our contemporary world, we use colour for cultural and spiritual self-expression. The development of new colours and new uses for colour is intimately linked to technological innovation, expanding trade, and the power of empires. In this episode we explore the worlds of anthropology, art, and science to discover how and why new colours and palettes emerged over the history of human kind.
In this episode we look at the fascinating power of colour from ancient ritualistic uses of colour through to its use of modern marketeers. Along the way we delve into the work of anthropologists, scientists and designers to explore what is myth and what is truth about the power of colour. How much is known about the hold colour has on us? How does colour affect us emotionally, physically and mentally?
Winner Bronze World Medal, Science and Technology, New York Festival 2009.
Winner Best Cinematography in a Documentary - Episode 2/Making Colours, Samsung Mobile AFI Awards 2009.
Nominated for Best Editing in a Documentary - Episode 2/Making Colours, Samsung Mobile AFI Awards 2009.
Screened at the 2009 3rd International Health Film Festival, Athens.
Submarine Mission Impossible aka Gallipoli Submarine (2008)1 hour dramatised documentary in co-production with Mallinson Sadler Productions for ABC, ZDF, Alliance Atlantis, National Geographic International
An Irish commander. A British and Australian submarine. An amazing episode in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey that history has overlooked for almost a hundred years.
Submarine Mission Impossible traces the incredible true story of the submarine AE2 and her 32 man crew. A dramatic re-enactment of their terrifying dive into enemy territory is combined with documentary footage of a modern-day scientific expedition to determine if the submarine can be saved.
AE2's story begins in the early hours of the 25 April 1915. The Allies are poised to launch a major landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Their military objective is to open up a new front and knock Turkey out of the war. Crucial to this plan, Lt Commander Henry Stoker and the crew of AE2 are ordered to break through the heavily defended Dardanelles Strait, disrupt Turkish supply lines in the Sea of Marmara, and generally 'run amok'.
It's a mission many consider impossible. During the previous month, a Great Allied Fleet had tried to penetrate the Dardanelles, suffering heavy losses. Three Allied ships were sunk and nearly 700 men were killed. Two other submarines have made attempts on the Strait but failed disastrously.
AE2's heroic exploits over the next five days would become the stuff of submarine legend. But after the horrors of the Western Front and the bungling of the Gallipoli campaign, her story was forgotten... Until now.
AE2 has been lying in 75 metres of water at the bottom of the Sea of Marmara for almost a hundred years. After a confrontation with a Turkish gunboat her commander Henry Stoker abandoned her, opened her tanks and scuttled her.
AE2 was rediscovered in 1998 by a team of Turkish divers. She is clearly deteriorating. Her upper deck casing is corroded, and fishing nets and anchor chains from surface shipping have done considerable damage to her bow. However, she is buried in fine, deep silt up to the level of her waterline, and this may have done much to preserve her main pressure hull.
In 2007 an international archaeological expedition was mounted to determine whether the corrosion and damage has passed the point of no return. The expedition team are passionate to discover if she can be saved.
Rarely has such a detailed and complicated study been made of a wreck at this depth - and never on a First World War submarine. The vessel is the best preserved of its class anywhere in the world. It is also the largest intact relic of one of the most disastrous military campaigns of the First World War.
Electric Pictures and Mallinson Sadler Productions have been granted exclusive access to an expedition that brings together some of the world's most experienced technical divers, top marine archaeologists and, high ranking submariners. Together, they photograph the wreck and make a complete archaeological survey to assess her future.
Can she be saved?
In telling the story of AE2's heroic passage through the heavily fortified Dardanelles, Submarine Mission Impossible uses intimate documentary footage, dramatic re-enactment, archival footage, underwater photography, and state-of-the-art Computer Generated Imagery.
Best historical documentary, 2008 World Festival of Underwater Pictures (Festival Mondial de l'image Sous-Marine).
Lotterywest Award for Excellence in Craft, Visual Effects, 2009 Western Australian Screen Awards.
Lotterywest Award for Excellence in Craft, Original Music Composition, 2009 Western Australian Screen Awards.
Hunt for HMAS Sydney (2008)1 hour documentary for Film Australia, ABC and National Geographic International
Follow the world's top shipwreck hunter, David Mearns, as he makes history by finding the HMAS Sydney II, solving one of Australia's most tragic and enduring mysteries.
The Hunt for HMAS Sydney gives an eyewitness account of the quest to find the Sydney and its crew of 645 sailors, ending 66 years of speculation and anguish. It follows an unprecedented multi-million dollar search and reveals its extraordinary history: a deadly World War II encounter on the high seas, a secret code hidden inside a dictionary and a mysterious body found in an island grave.
The film includes the history of the Sydney and the German raider Kormoran, interviews with bereaved family members, naval personnel, historians, and those who have made the search happen with their dogged determination to bring closure, showing the potent and powerful impact of post-traumatic stress that results from wartime tragedy.
And using computer-generated animation, The Hunt for HMAS Sydney recreates the battle that cost hundreds of lives and the pride of the Royal Australian Navy.
Readers' Choice Award, Best Local Feature Documentary, 2008 Sydney Morning Herald Couch Potato Awards.
Winners' Guide to the Nobel Prize (2006)1 hour documentary for ABC Television and Film Australia
Every year Sweden throws a party, watched all around the world. Only the best and the brightest in the world are called to Stockholm. Since the Nobel Prizes began they have come to be recognized as a benchmark of human progress.
One balmy evening, in the most isolated capital city in the world, Perth, Western Australia, two unassuming medical blokes were interrupted, while enjoying their fish and chips, by a phone call from Stockholm, Sweden. They had won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology and could they make it to the Awards ceremony on 10 December?
Australian doctors, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren's journey to the prize-winners' podium is more than just a trip to the opposite side of the world to zero temperatures, cultural pomp and precise Swedish scheduling. It is the ultimate acknowledgement for a career long struggle, trial and error, endless research and stubborn determination.
Today, this odd couple of science travels the globe as important ambassadors of Australian science. It was in 1979 however, in a modest hospital laboratory in Perth, that pathologist Robin Warren first observed a bacterium that survived in the human stomach.
He teamed up with enthusiastic young gastroenterologist, Barry Marshall and together they promoted the thesis that this bacterium, not stress, caused gastritis and stomach ulcers, much to the chagrin of the medical world, which at the time distrusted their theory and subjected them to scorn.
After years of careful observation, luck and persistence, Robin and Barry finally had the breakthrough they needed. In the process, Marshall infected himself, using his own body as a guinea pig to test their theory. A tiny organism that pathologist Robin Warren had first noticed as a thin blue line under a microscope, was now documented as a new species.
The questioning minds of Marshall and Warren have revolutionised the medical community's approach to treatment and dramatically improved the health prospects of millions of people, by identifying the real cause of stomach ulcers.
This film looks at Warren and Marshall's lives, families, peers, work, struggles and their paradigm-shifting finding to reveal the massive impact, wonder and excitement of groundbreaking scientific discovery.
We travel behind the scenes of the world's most prestigious prize and discover what it's really like to win the Oscar of Intellect and also celebrate Australia's proud history of success with Nobel Prizes in Medicine or Physiology.
Nineteenth century Swedish scientist, Alfred Nobel had made a fortune out of explosives, but anxious to leave a positive legacy, he used his massive estate to create the Nobel Prizes to celebrate the greatest in human achievement. 100 years later, the Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious prize on earth. But sometimes, the winners break the mould.
Golden Dragon Award, Science Popularisation Category, 2006 Beijing International Scientific Films Festival.
Outstanding Achievement Award, Documentary Production, 2007 Western Australian Screen Awards.
Bom Bali (2006)90 min HD dramatised documentary in co-production with Brook Lapping Productions (UK) for Network Ten, Sky (UK), TVNZ, Discovery Channel US and TWI
The horrific attacks of October 12th, 2002 are remembered by the Balinese in one simple phrase: 'Bom Bali'.
Two hundred and two people died when Indonesian terrorists exploded bombs in two of the island's most popular nightspots: the Sari Club and Paddy's Pub. Several hundred others survived, many with horrific injuries.
The story of 'Bom Bali' is told by survivors, the family and friends of those who were killed, and by the bombers themselves. The details they supply of the attack and its horrific aftermath are graphic and disturbing.
'Bom Bali' shows how the attack changed lives forever, physically, emotionally and spiritually. And as they reach the fourth anniversary of the bombing, they, like so many of us, must come to terms with a world vastly different from the one before 'Bom Bali' - a world in which acts of indiscriminate terror have become a fact of life.
Bali was a party island, and 'Bom Bali' captures its wildness and raucous energy in high quality dramatic reconstructions. The bombing and its aftermath are illustrated with drama scenes too - all closely based on the detailed testimony of survivors from Australia, America, Britain and Bali itself.
The latter sections of the film deal frankly with questions of grieving and forgiveness. In one memorable and moving scene a leader of the island's Muslim community comforts a young Australian woman who had come to feel anger at all Moslems for the death of her mother in the Sari Club. He speaks eloquently about his hatred for terrorism carried out in the name of God.
For the first time on western television, the bombers tell their own stories in detail, explaining how they carried out their attack, and why. One - Ali Imron - explains on camera how he came to realise his error and now asks the families of those he killed for forgiveness.
2008 Golden Tripod Award, Australian Cinematographers' Society.
Hors Concours Award, 2007 Banff World Festival Television Award.
Outstanding Achievement Award, Documentary Production, 2007 Western Australian Screen Awards.
Superflu: Race Against A Killer (2006)1 hour documentary HD for National Geographic and SBS
To most of us, the flu is yearly ritual of misery - nothing more. But now there's a flu out there potentially more deadly than anything the world has every seen. It's a disease that could kill the young and healthy in astounding numbers - a virus as terrifying as the most deadly plagues known to man. And it's just an evolutionary tick away from becoming highly contagious.
In 1997 a mysterious new virus spread like wildfire through the live chickens markets of Hong Kong, killing poultry with alarming speed. Then, to the shock of scientists, the virus jumped directly from birds to humans - something that had never happened before and has chilling implications. Virus hunters attempted to get the outbreak under control by slaughtering every chicken in Hong Kong, but then in 2003 a new strain of the virus ripped through the poultry farms across SE Asia where it has now killed over 60 people.
Scientists call it H5N1. So far 75% of the people it has infected have died - a mortality rate higher than smallpox and even the bubonic plague. And all the while, the H5N1 has been mutating lethally - first killing wild birds that normally carry it without symptoms, then tigers and cats, and then ominously, passing from one human to another. Every day, H5N1 gets one step closer to becoming a contagious, airborne disease like the common flu.
From hot zone labs around the world and to remote regions of SE Asia, Superflu: Race Against A Killer follows an international team of leading virus hunters as they attempt to stop H5N1 before it's too late. Virologists and epidemiologists are tracking the viruses every move and using computer models to show how we may be able to prevent a human outbreak at its source if we get there in time. Inside the laboratory, we follow scientists working on new genetic engineering techniques to produce an effective vaccine.
Will any of these solutions really work and how is the world preparing for what scientists tell us is inevitable? Superflu: Race Against A Killer takes a terrifying glimpse into the future to look at what will happen if a pandemic on the scale predicted were to happen today - millions of deaths worldwide, hospitals overwhelmed, panic and social upheaval, the economy and the normal functions of society brought to a standstill.
Superflu: Race Against A Killer is a spellbinding detective story that goes to the frontlines of the battle against H5N1 - from the most advanced level 3 biosafety laboratories to the poultry markets and rural villages of SE Asia where the nightmare is already unfolding. Advanced computer graphics take us inside the workings of H5N1 and reveals the secrets that make it so deadly. Historical film archive reveals the horrors wrought by pandemic influenza in the past and dramatic re-creations take a chilling look into the future that may not be far off if the worst-case scenario comes true.
Scared? We should be. This is no figment of scientists' imaginations - they are warning us that the prospects are real.
Superflu: Race Against A Killer is a spellbinding detective story following the world's premier virus hunters as they attempt to understand and stop H5N1 before its too late. The film is also a chilling glimpse into the future as we see what the world would look like if the worst-case scenario comes true.
Distributed to over 20 countries worldwide by National Geographic International.
Outstanding Achievement Award, Editing, 2006 Western Australian Screen Awards.
Bronze Chris Award, 2006 Columbus International Film & Video Festival.
Submariners (2006)6 x 1 hour documentary series for SBS and RDF International
Get up close and personal with the crew of HMAS Rankin - the newest of Australia's controversial Collins Class Submarines - as they sail half way around the world to take on the best of the US Navy.
An observational style documentary series that follows the men and women aboard HMAS Rankin - the newest of Australia's Collin's Class submarines - as they undertake a journey from Western Australia to Korea, Japan, Hawaii and back home again.
Submariners is an underwater road movie. Any real journey tests those who take it. In this case, the submarine - a very sophisticated but slightly cantankerous piece of high tech equipment - is tested along with a team of mostly young, keen, professionally minded individuals who have made a remarkable career choice that sees them shut away from the world, their families and friends, for months at a time.
Along the way, they face another more subtle challenge: to overcome the submarine's reputation as a 'dud' - and demonstrate the worth of the boat and their own expertise. Early versions of the submarine leaked, the weapons systems didn't work, the periscopes were faulty and they were noisy underwater. In this series, the Collins submarines are on very public trial for the very first time.
The crew of Rankin are capable, committed individuals that share a powerful fraternal bond. A submarine can be a dangerous place with little margin for error, so they constantly train to deal with any emergency that may endanger their boat - and their lives. They know that even those who may not be their closest friend, will risk everything for the crew and boat.
Shut away with the submariners are a couple of people, each armed with a camera and sound equipment, determined to get to the bottom of the boat's secrets. Secrets are a big thing on submarines. There is the question of national security and not allowing the enemy, or anyone else for that matter, to know the nitty gritty about the submarine. What is the purpose of her mission? How fast can she go? How deep can she dive? How lethal can she be? What noise does her propeller make and what does it look like? What intelligence can she gather? When a submarine leaves port, usually not even other submariners - let alone their families - know where she will go or what she will do. The silent service is top secret - all the more remarkable that they allowed us to spend so much time on board!
The crew have their own secrets as well: the reasons why they became submariners, which they share with each other but do not normally reveal to the outside world. All the same, they take us in and make us welcome, and allow us the rare opportunity to understand the complexity of what it is that drives them.
Aboard the Australian Collins Class submarine, HMAS Rankin, crew and boat are being tested to the extreme to prove they are up to the challenge of a long overseas deployment.
HMAS Rankin, begins her big adventure. The arrival of female submariners onboard causes problems and mechanical failures threaten to curtail the journey.
HMAS Rankin, continues its journey and home life slips further away. On reaching Korea, the crew celebrates landfall.
A submariner's worst nightmare - trapped on the ocean floor. Australian Collins Class Submarine, HMAS Rankin, sinks to the bottom of the ocean and waits to be rescued by allies.
HMAS Rankin, departs Japan for Hawaii - a three-week journey through oceans nine kilometres deep with no possibility of landfall in between. A cat and mouse war game with the US Navy begins.
The climax to the series. Will the Australian Collins Class Submarine, HMAS Rankin, out manoeuvre the US Navy in a cat and mouse war game leading up to RIMPAC - the world's biggest Naval exercises involving 300 vessels from eight countries?
Outstanding Achievement Award, Series Production, 2006 Western Australian Screen Awards.
Outstanding Achievement Award, Music & Sound Design, 2006 Western Australian Screen Awards.
People's Choice Industry Award, 2006 Western Australian Screen Awards.
Special Mention Entertainment Category, 2006 Columbus International Film & Video Festival.
Black Road (2005)1 hour documentary for SBS - On the front lines of Aceh's war for independence
In the Indonesian province of Aceh, journalist William Nessen gained a general's trust and patrolled with the military. He fell in love with a local translator, who worked secretly for the independence movement. Nessen lived for months on the frontlines with GAM independence guerrillas, was hunted by the military, imprisoned for 40 days and twice expelled from the country. Days after Nessen's marriage in Aceh, the security forces kidnapped and killed his 'best man,' an outspoken human rights activist.
Through the lens of Nessen's personal and powerful experiences emerges the first film to tell the story of Aceh's rebellion against Indonesian rule.
The Black Road takes us on a journey deep inside Southeast Asia's hottest conflict - a conflict that may well decide the fate of Indonesia, Australia's closest neighbour and the world's largest Muslim nation. The people of Aceh fight for political independence; Indonesia wants to keep the gas-rich province firmly under its control.
The film brings us directly to the battlefields and burnt-out villages of the province. We step into the lives and experience the deaths of Aceh's GAM guerrillas, its human rights activists and ordinary farmers. We march with demonstrators and witness the massacres that follow. Acknowledging a hundred-year history of resistance to outside rule, the film focuses on the past three years of escalating fighting, martial law and the banning of all foreign journalists.
The film begins and ends with extraordinary scenes that no other journalist has captured: the conflict continuing even in the rubble of the tsunami.
But there is some laughter here too and the possibility of healing. It's a story about how people endure, struggle and maintain their dignity against the odds.
The Aceh conflict raises a crucial political question, which is the subtext of the film: Is political freedom for a long-suffering people more important than the right of a country to hold its disparate parts together?
The Black Road is also a startling account of a Nessen's painful four-year journey of self-discovery, as he is pulled deeper into the conflict and the tragedy and the personal lives of the Acehnese. Nessen increasingly wrestles with the dilemmas of remaining an observer in a place of terrible misdeeds.
Best Documentary under 60 minutes and Best Film of the Festival, 2006 Mumbai International Film Festival.
Screenrights Best made for TV Documentary and a Special Mention in the St Laurence New Zealand Medium Documentary, 2006 DOCNZ Film Festival.
Australia's Hidden Corner aka Australien's Versteckte Ecke (2005)1 hour Documentary for NDR (Germany)
To many people visiting Australia, their itinerary is often focused on the 'must see' elements summarized in tourist brochures and travel company tours. That usually means vast red earth desert plains, gleaming white beaches and enormous wheat and sheep farms.
But in the South West corner of Australia's largest State is an area roughly the same size as Bavaria that offers a very different picture of Australia - real or imagined.
In Australia's Hidden Corner, we enter the lives of a bunch of colourful characters who call the South-West 'home'.
Beneath the towering canopy of karri trees that are among the tallest in the world, we meet tree surgeon Gavin Drake as he prepares to scale a monster karri that needs urgent pruning. And when he's not risking life and limb in the tree tops he takes to the skies in home made ultra light planes. We follow his daring flight as he travels a diverse landscape of forest, farmland and vineyards on a journey to Augusta, on the southern coast.
There we meet Darren and Nathan Adams, abalone divers who brave the treacherous oceans of the far south coast in search of precious bounty. Working in shark infested waters the brothers take each day as it comes, living their lives to the full.
Later, in Albany, we encounter biologist Tony Friend, who's pursuing an audacious and risky plan to save Australia's most endangered animal, the Gilbert's Potoroo. With only 35 animals left in existence he knows a single bushfire could destroy the entire species.
Several hundred kilometres inland - in the heart of the South-West - we meet Stephen Michael an aboriginal coal miner, who was once a famous Australian footballer and is now trying to teach his sons how to hunt kangaroos.
And, finally, back in Western Australia's capital, Perth, Jane Humphries shows what it's like to be a woman living in a man's world. Known to her friends as 'GI Jane', her day job is fighting fires, and in her spare time, she catches waves and lifeguards at the local beach.
With a taste for adventure, and a sense of humour, these intrepid men and women are carving out multi-dimensional lives in a region that is as challenging as it is beautiful - forging an enduring relationship with the unique country found in Australia's Hidden Corner.
Hula Girls: Imagining Paradise (2005)1 hour documentary for SBS, ARTE, AVRO and Beyond Distribution
The hula girl is one of the most potent and sexually alluring images in popular culture today and has been for centuries.
Award-winning documentary maker Trevor Graham in Hula Girls: Imagining Paradise asks why this popular rendering has maintained such a grip on the Western imagination. He charts the history of the image and the changes each succeeding generation has imposed on its representation. He uses 100s of images - from early 18th Century illustrations to Gauguin's famous island paintings, as well as footage from famous and not so famous Hollywood films. There are snippets of the Sarong Girl herself, Dorothy Lamour and the titillating and adventurous Dolores Del Rio not to mention a bare-chested, but still coyly modest, Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian in one of the five adaptations of The Mutiny On the Bounty.
Narrated by Kerry Armstrong Hula Girls: Imagining Paradise takes as its starting point the records of the first Western encounters with the beautiful Polynesian women of the Pacific. French explorer Bougainville relates in his journal his meeting with the Polynesian women who shed their clothes in welcome and when he returns to Paris he publishes an account that is widely read and causes a sensation. So the Western image of Polynesian women and the island paradise is born into the popular imagination.
Captain Bligh's inflammatory account of the mutiny on the Bounty also lays the blame for the mutiny at the feet, (or more precisely the hips) of Polynesian women -- and the myth of paradise and the seductive hula girls bedevilling men is perpetuated.
The beauty of the islands and sexual freedom of the women becomes deeply entrenched in the Western imagination and finds expression in the popular culture of the day. Graham explores the way in which Western cultural expression transformed the Polynesian spiritual 'hula' dance into a Western male fantasy that has stuck.
When French artist Gauguin visits the islands in the late 19th Century, in search of the beautiful Polynesian woman, he finds a missionary outpost and the women in shapeless sacks but he does his bit to uphold the dreamy ideal in his paintings and later Hollywood follows suit.
By the start of the 20th Century, the spiritual basis of the dance is almost impossible to find, but the popular imagination will not let go of the sexy hula girl. Early Hollywood uses the image and the south sea paradise to produce films with erotic dance sequences and to circumvent stringent censorship regarding nudity. Filmmakers find the Polynesian princess a great way to explore inter-race relations without offending the conservative middle class and finally the image is used to advertise the new American State of Hawaii as a paradise travel destination.
Graham draws on the expertise of Auckland anthropologist Ann Salmond who gives lively accounts of the early Western encounters with Polynesian women. Art historian Stephen Eisenman parallels Gauguin's paintings with the photographed reality of the time, while film historian Ed Rampell's extensive knowledge of the use of the hula girl in films of the 20th Century uncovers some great treasures.
Katerina Teaiwa, Associate Professor of Pacific Studies in Honolulu is brutally honest about the trade in the hula illusion and the paradise economy. Collector Joe O'Neill shows off a shop full of hula memorabilia that owes more to the actress Dorothy Lamour than it does to any Polynesian reality while the music we believe comes from the south seas is shown to be largely another Hollywood construct.
Hula Girls: Imagining Paradise is a deliciously compelling look under the lei.
The New South Wales Premiers Award, Audio/Visual History 2005.
Tug of Love (2004)1 hour for SBS
Australia has one of the highest rates of parental child abductions in the world. Current studies show that these in-family kidnappings of children by estranged parents have tripled in the past decade, and that many involve culturally-mixed marriages. Tug of Love closely follows the parents left behind as they struggle to do whatever they can to get their children back.
Nominated, Outstanding Achievement Award, Best Documentary Series, 2005 Australian Logies.
Children at the Edge aka Stories From a Children's Hospital (2004)5 x 30 mins series for ABC and Beyond International
Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, Western Australia is home to a multitude of dramatic, inspirational and sometimes tragic stories of children and health. Through the eyes of staff, patients and parents, we enter the inner sanctum of this distinguished hospital and observe the daily battles to provide paediatric care at the cutting edge. As the human drama unfolds, we elevate beyond the tabloid, to reveal the realities of the public health system: the issues, the ethics, the priorities and the dilemmas faced by staff and patients. And in a unique twist Stories From a Children's Hospital uncovers the inner workings of science in a world where life and death - and quality of survival - are at stake. This is a realm where science sometimes succeeds, sometimes fails...and real people depend on the outcome. From the bench-top to the bedside, Stories From a Children's Hospital is the human face of science; science in action in a public hospital, science struggling to save children teetering at the edge of life and death.
CHLOE'S STORY: PART ONE
Chloe Jankata is 13 years old and for the second time in her young life, she's fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. As a relapse patient, conventional chemotherapy has failed and she is enrolled in an experimental protocol from the Children's Oncology Group in the United States. It's a rigorous and debilitating regime of intense chemotherapy which literally takes her to the point of death. Meanwhile, scientists study leukaemia at the nearby Institute for Child Health Research have identified a way to genetically identify potential relapse patients when they first present with the disease. It's a major break-through and has exciting implications for future treatment. But for Chloe the heart rending struggle continues. Inevitably, those around her are forced to consider their motives and reflect on whether the months of suffering she has had to endure have been worth it.
We leave this episode with the decision being made to continue treatment. Her ordeal will continue.
CHLOE'S STORY: PART TWO
As a relapse patient with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, 13 year old, Chloe Jankata's only hope for a long-term cure is a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. But the treatment risks everything. Her own bone marrow must be completely destroyed, leaving her defenceless, and at the point of no return. With her immune system destroyed she is perilously vulnerable to infection and totally dependent on the skill of the oncologists who prescribe and administer the cocktail of drugs which keep her alive. This final chapter in Chloe's story exposes us to the heart breaking reality of how much, and how little modern medicine can do with leukaemia.
And we learn that exacting a 'cure' can demand a shocking price.
It takes only a few seconds for a child to receive a life-threatening burn, but it can take a lifetime to recover from the physical and emotional scarring. Principal burns surgeon, Dr Fiona Wood leads a team of scientists and clinicians who've made 'scarless healing' their Holy Grail. A significant step towards this goal is the revolutionary development of 'spray-on skin', in which the patient's own skin cells are harvested, grown in culture, and sprayed back on to the wound bed within a week of the initial injury. The speed of this process is having remarkable results. But for 11 year old Ben Smith, it's a different story. A petrol explosion two years ago burnt 60% of his skin surface and despite intensive treatment, his scarring is extensive and chaotic. And despite the best efforts of Dr Woods and her team, they have not been able to unravel the mystery of why it happens. The science of burns treatment has come a long way, but it's a journey only just begun.
THE COST OF LIVING
Dianne Popelier was born 17 weeks premature, and at the very edge of what medical science deems 'viable life'. Weighing less than half a kilo at birth, her tiny organs are grossly immature and completely inadequate for the 'alien' world outside her mother's womb. She is kept alive only with the help of a complex medical technology and 24 hour intensive care. And whilst it keeps her alive, it comes with huge costs - financial, emotional and psychological. For obstetric Professor John Newnham, pre-term birth is, "the single greatest problem facing human reproduction today." Consequently he has embarked on a study of pregnant women to determine why pre-term birth occurs, and ultimately what can be done to reduce it. Amazingly he thinks he may have found the answer by concentrating, not on the reproductive organs of his subjects, but by measuring the extent of the bacteria they carry.... in their mouths.
Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth provides state-of-the-art paediatric care to more than 25,000 children every year. But for aboriginal children living in the state's remote areas like the Kimberley, the situation is dramatically different. They are thousands of miles away from the hospital and present with some of the worst health statistics in the world.. Several times a year, Princess Margaret paediatric cardiologist, Dr Luigi D'Orsogna travels to the Kimberley in the state's north to monitor aboriginal children with heart problems caused by rheumatic fever. But it's more a token gesture, a mere Band-Aid on a much larger social and political problem. The Kimberley's sole paediatrician, Dr Lindsay Adams can't understand why the problems still persists? It's 2003 and we have access to modern technology, so why is aboriginal health still so marginalized? Observing him at work in some of the state's most remote aboriginal communities, highlights the difficulties and reveals that this may be a situation for which medical science has no solution.
"Chloe's Story' awarded Best Documentary Human Story, 2004 ATOM Awards.
"Chloe's Story' awarded Bronze Plaque, 2004 Columbus International Film Festival.
"Chloe's Story' awarded Outstanding Achievement Award, Outstanding Documentary Production, 2005 WA Screen Awards.
Nominated, Outstanding Achievement Award, Best Documentary Series, 2005 Australian Logies.
Child Soldiers (2002)1 hour Documentary for ABC, OPB, MacArthur Foundation and RTHK
A telling global expose of children who have become soldiers, who have been through the trauma of child soldiering, or who are presently active in fighting.
Through a series of intimate encounters with children who have been through the hell of soldiering in Uganda, Sudan, Burma, Colombia and Sierra Leone, this documentary examines the complex issue of recruitment, the hazardous and often brutal life of child soldiers, and for those that survive the fighting - the daunting post-conflict challenges that lay before them.
Thousands of children in more than forty countries across the globe are being forced and tricked into becoming soldiers. It is a tragedy that we are all well aware of - we often see them on the TV news casually toting AK47s; governments and non-government institutions holding child soldier conventions; and the United Nations declaring the sending of children into battle an 'international war crime'. Yet, this tragic practice of robbing children of their humanity is far from abating - it is increasing.
The team films child soldiers under fire. They record the intimate stories of escapees from rebel groups who routinely force the children into atrocities. They are with these children when they re-connect with family and community, some undergoing a simple but emotionally charged ceremony of tribal rites and human compassion. Even when reunited the children are not necessarily safe. Children are kidnapped to be soldiers, escape, go home to their villages only to be kidnapped again and again. It is an appalling cycle that puts their lives in terrible peril and robs them of humanity and their future.
Winner, 2003 Child Rights Award, Osnabrueck Independent Film Festival in Germany.
Winner, 2002 ABU/CASBBA/UNICEF award for best program about the child's rights, produced in Asia/Pacific Region (presented at 2003 ABU Conference in Tokyo).
Honorable Mention, Social Issues Division, 2002 Columbus International Film Festival.
Silver World Medal, National/International Affairs, 2002 New York Film Festival.
Bronze World Medal, 2002 UNESCO Awards.
Dinosaur Dealers (2002)2 x 1 hour documentary series co-production with AlleyKat Productions for SBS and National Geographic
Dinosaur hunters, fossil cops, shady dealers and middle-men, and the smuggling of prehistoric relics. From outback Australia to the 'Badlands' of USA and 'fossil goldfields' of China - this is the world of the "Dinosaur Dealers".
In Beijing, Chinese scientists are racing against time to protect rare and invaluable fossils from hordes of looters with links to wealthy dealers and collectors in the West. In a new scientific "gold rush", paleontologists, collectors and dealers from around the world covet China's fossil treasures. Anything and everything, it seems, is for sale. In California, fast-talking fossil auctioneer David Herskowitz is busy rounding up his wealthy clients, including a Middle Eastern Prince, encouraging them to part with big money for items in his next auction. Just US$20,000 for a sabre tooth tiger skull - cheaper than a 'Salvador Dali' painting - or how about US$25,000 for a woolly mammoth skull; perfect for your kitchen! In South Dakota, dinosaur hunters Fred & Candy Nuss are hoping to repeat the success of their recent exciting oviraptor find which fossil broker Mike Triebold calls the "Chicken from Hell". Fred's got that "Dino Fever" look again- he's sure that there is a 'big one' just under that next rock. The story threads of both episodes converge in Arizona at the world's largest fossil fair. Under Steve's tutelage John goes undercover seeking leads on the missing footprints. Can Steve and John recover the prints? Can the scientists in China win their battle with the fossil raiders of the Great Dinosaur Rush? Will David Herskowitz fast-talk his way into the pockets of his high-rolling clients? And will Fred and Candy close the deal on the "Chicken from Hell"? The answers lie in the world of the "Dinosaur Dealers".
In the dead of night, 'fossil rustlers' hack out rare stegosaurus footprints from an Aboriginal sacred site in north-west Australia. For tribal custodian Joseph Roe, the scientific or commercial value of these fossils is irrelevant - the footprints are sacred to their Dreamtime stories. He wants them back and no scientist is welcome on his land until the prints are returned. Beyond Australia's shores, the illegal trade is booming and that has scientists and governments worried. Just how extensive is this shadowy world of international fossil smugglers? Who's stealing? Who's selling? And who's buying? Two uniquely skilled men are determined to find the answers by lifting the lid on the world of the "Dinosaur Dealers". Paleontologist Dr John Long is one of Australia's leading dinosaur experts. He also happens to be a black belt in karate. Having studied the stegosaurus tracks, he is furious about the theft and wants the prints returned. Joe Roe believes John is partly responsible for their loss and he is no longer welcome on his land. This adds a personal edge to John's quest. The man who may be able to help John is Sergeant Steve Rogers of Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in Wyoming, USA. Steve has good credentials: he has a US$50,000 contract out on his head from disgruntled fossil hunters. As an ex-undercover drug cop, Steve knows how to "walk the walk and talk the talk"..
Honorable Mention, Social Issues Division, 2003 Columbus International Film Festival.
Football Farm (2002)1 hour documentary co-production with Alley Kat Productions for SBS and Discovery Asia
From the playing fields of China to the changing rooms and boardrooms of Europe - the inside story of the wheeling and dealing afoot behind the global soccer marketing machines as seen through the eyes of Asian soccer players, agents and managers.
Honorable Mention, Sports Programming Division, 2002 Columbus International Film Festival.
Playing the Game (2001)3 x 1 hour series co-production with Wildfilm Australia for PBS and ABC
Playing the Game is a three part history series that takes a fresh look at some of the key developments in American foreign policy from the 1930s to the 1980s. In particular it looks at the impact of the worldwide process of decolonisation and the advent of the Cold War in changing US policy from one of isolationist idealism to one of increasingly pragmatic interventionism. Filmed in 10 countries on 5 continents, the series focuses on little-known stories of international intrigue and power politics that helped to shape the world we live in today.
THE ATLANTIC CHARTER
Episode one depicts the first detailed television account of the historic meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill in August 1941, at a remote bay in Newfoundland. This meeting climaxed with the 'Atlantic Charter' - a joint declaration, which saw the United States and Great Britain appear to recognise the right of self-government to the countries of the world. The Charter led to the establishment of the United Nations, giving encouragement to nationalist movements around the world.
AFRICA:BLACK STAR RISING
Episode two analyses the impact of decolonisation on the first of the British, French and Belgian colonies of Africa to win their freedom. This powerful, sometimes shocking, programme tracks the increasingly cynical machinations of the world's super-powers as they made the newly independent states of Africa a playing field for their Cold War rivalries.
CAMBODIA: THE BLOODIEST DOMINO
Episode three reveals how the USA finally abandoned any remnants of idealism in relation to independent countries in favour of Cold War imperatives when, in 1969, President Nixon authorised a multitude of B-52 aerial bombing raids on neutral Cambodia. The bombings began a decade of unrelenting horror that would lead to the near genocide of an entire people.
Nominated, Best Documentary, 2001 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards.
Finalist, Humanities Division, History, 2002 New York Film Festival.
Bronze Chris Award, History Division, 2002 Columbus International Film Festival.
Painting Country (2000)1 hour documentary co-production with Robin Eastwood Productions for NHK and SBS
Balgo Hills or Wirrimanu is located on the edge of the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts in far North Western Australia. Despite its isolation this is home to some of Australia's most famous indigenous artists whose paintings hang in galleries and private collections around the world.
Balgo art is famous for its hot bright colours, bold composition and creative brush techniques. Its origins lie in the traditional designs done in sand and body paintings. But in less than 20 years it has evolved into one of the most innovative movements of modern art in Australia.
The Balgo artists draw their inspiration from their deep spiritual connection with the land. But none of these artists live in the land they paint. Most were born deep in the desert where they lived a nomadic life until the impact of white settlement forced them to seek sanctuary in missions such as Balgo.
It's been decades since these artists have seen their country. And as many are getting old it's time to go back.
Painting Country follows a journey back to the traditional country of ten of Balgo's most celebrated artists - including Tjumpo Tjapanangka, Lucy Yukenbarri, Helicopter Tjungurrayi and Sam Tjampitjin. Along with the two art coordinators from Warlayirti Artists, the Aboriginal artists travel through some of Australia's most remote desert landscapes on tracks that have not been used for many years.
Their journey takes them as far as spectacular Lake Mackay and onto Jupiter Well deep in the Gibson Desert. The film intimately portrays the life and humour of the indigenous artists. It reveals why they had to leave their country and why their relationship to the land is still fundamental to their existence.
Silver Chris Award, Best Overall in Arts Division, 2001 Columbus International Film and Video Festival.
Finalist, Best Documentary, 2001 International Electronic Cinema Festival (Japan).
Winds of Change (1999)3 x 1 hour documentary co-production with AlleyKat Productions for BBC, SBS and RTHK
Australian film-makers have already proved their ability to produce compelling and sensitive stories about some of Australia's neighbouring societies. Winds of Change takes this strong tradition a step further by brokering an even more collaborative way of working between Australian documentary-makers and their peers in the region. This was done by facilitating a process whereby the stories emerge from, and are told by, film-makers from those countries in creative partnership with an Australian team. Out of this has emerged stories with a degree of depth and poignancy which can only come from being on the "inside".
Winds of Change was shot in an observational style by single multi-skilled film-makers working closely with their subjects over a longer period of time to develop an intimate and direct relationship between subject and audience. The stories are personal, focusing on individuals or families as illustrations of the wider themes being explored by the film-maker and often engaging the film-maker in active dialogue with the subjects of their stories. The kind of dialogue which can only take place between people who are familiar with each other, the kind of access normally only granted to an "insider".
A ground breaking collaboration between Australian Documentary Producers and Film-makers in Asia. This documentary series goes beyond the statistics to present a view of life from "inside" the bubble in Indonesia, Vietnam and Hong Kong during a historic period of immense change in the region.
Here is a sample of the nine stories that together, comprise the series...
Missing Tutti is a very determined woman. She has to be - in present day Indonesia you have to believe that anything is possible. Tutti has to try and believe that her bus driver son Yani is still alive - somewhere.
Yani does not fit the profile of most of the other 40-odd "activists" who went missing during the recent political upheavals. While many of them were dedicated student, union, and human rights activists with relatively high profiles, Yani was simply a bus driver - and supporter of opposition leader Megawati. Yani was also the main breadwinner for his family of wife and two young kids.
Tutti has visited every police and military base in Jakarta for news of her son but to no avail. She will visit them again and again until she gets some answers. Together with the families of other missing activists this grandmother spends much of her time fronting up to fearsome military figures trying to find out the truth about her son.
Meanwhile a military court has been convened to try the Kopassus Special Forces soldiers accused of the abductions. Among those accused is Soeharto's son-in-law General Prabowo. Will this high-profile trial give Tutti the answers she is looking for? Will it lead her to her son? Is Yani still alive? Few think so, but in Indonesia today you have to believe that anything is possible.
Mariman Mariman is in his early 40's and married with 2 children. As an ethnic Chinese businessman his computer store was targeted in the May 1998 riots and burned to the ground. While a number of his friends and colleagues are rebuilding their businesses in other parts of Chinatown Mariman has been too traumatised by the experience to consider such a move. Instead he now runs a stripped-down version of his business from his garage at home in a large walled "mansion" village near the airport. It's inhabitants are all wealthy Chinese, the complex is patrolled by security guards, and this is the perimeter of Mariman's life. He has already sent his oldest son (age 12) to Malaysia for safety and as a transition stopover for a longer exile probably in Australia. His daughter (age 9) doesn't want to leave. As violence continues to erupt across the archipelago and the June 7th General Election draws nearer Mariman, along with many many others in Jakarta, is getting increasingly nervous.
VIETNAM The Cave Men of Lai Chau
In the mountainous province of Lai Chau near the Laos border in north-western Vietnam lives a community of nearly a hundred people consisting of army veterans, ex-farmers, mothers, grandparents, and children. Together they all get regularly smashed on opium - the children as well. They are impervious to government propaganda and have no life beyond foraging for food, living in rags, and getting stoned in their cave homes. This isn't the junkie chic of "Trainspotting" - this is a vision of hell. Together they forage for berries, roots, and the scraps of firewood which they trade for their daily hit.
The Doi Moi "Open Door" policies of the new Vietnam pose no moral or social dilemmas for the cave-dwellers although they do seem to have perfected the art (essential in modern-day Vietnam) of saying one thing and thinking another. Now it is Dr Huong's job as a rehabilitation expert to bring them back into the fold of normal Vietnamese society.
Following the deliberations of the local People's Committee we follow those local officials up the mountain as they meet the addicts "for the first time" and persuade some of them to seek "help". We then follow them back down from the mountain into the rehabilitation camp for a painful dose of Vietnamese-style Cold Turkey and daily lectures on social evil.
The addicts return to the hills one month later with a new set of clothes, a haircut, and a "born-again" fervour heading off into the mountain mist to pursue their new-found anti-drugs crusade. At least until they are out of the sight of the local Party guys.
HONG KONG - No Eternal Friends - No Eternal Enemies
As a result of the new voting system introduced in the first legislative council election since the handover to China, former political allies are forced to compete against each other for the limited directly-elected seats. Heady stuff for people who only in the last four or five years have begun to get to know this strange animal called "democracy" - a parting 'gift' from the British at the end of their 99 year lease.
In the last election in 1995 Leung Yiu Chung and Lee Cheuk Yan, both trade unionists, shared the same goal in striving for a more liberal political environment for the people of Hong Kong before being handed over to the communist regime. As co-founders of "The Frontier" democracy group their co-operation in the 1995 election helped win them both a seat on the council. The new changes to the electoral system, whereby half of the council is appointed and half is elected, leave fewer seats to challenge for. For Leung and Lee that means their old "brotherhood" goes out of the window.
Having failed to reach a compromise with his former friend and co-founder Leung is angry at Lee for stepping into his constituency on the justification that he has a greater chance of winning for "The Frontier". Leung has left the "The Frontier" and is going it alone to directly confront his old mate in the election. As a maths teacher Leung has been crunching his numbers and believes he can do it. His eccentric film director friend and campaign advisor John Sham also thinks Leung can do it if he takes his blunt advice on image and presentation. Either way, the polls say otherwise.
We follow Leung's campaign, weaving in and out of Lee's, to its political climax and beyond as the rivals face-off on election day. Under the new democatic structures, two old friends have quickly "matured" into, at times, ruthless political rivals. But hey, that's politics for you.
Nominated, Rockie Award, Information Programs, 2000 Banff Awards.
Human Race (1997)1 hour documentary for National Geographic, ZDF and ABC
The Human Race is a compelling adventure documentary, set in the Kimberley Region, an ancient, remote and spectacular landscape in North Western Australia. Three men race each other in a test of endurance, survival skills and tenacity as they walk more 500 kilometres from the edge of a meteorite crater in the middle of a sun-scorched desert to the tropical coast.
The Human Race tells the story of: an Australian Aboriginal elder in his seventies who travels with little more than his Dreamtime knowledge and traditional bush skills; a German survival expert, famous throughout Europe, who, at sixty one, still spends his life testing himself to the limit of human endurance; and an American ultra marathon runner in his mid-thirties who attempts to get the winning edge by using today's advanced technology.
The competitors' only mode of transport is by foot. They walk for four weeks over endless red plateaus, through needle sharp spinifex, over rugged mountains, across dangerous water courses and deserts - through some of the world's most inhospitable terrain.
While the event is billed as a competition in the tradition of the 'eco challenge' and 'ultra marathon', it is a 'race' with a difference. Each competitor is required to make the distance surviving off the land, finding his own food and water as best he can.
The drama unfolds on an extremely personal level, showing not only the daunting physical challenge but also the strain on the competitors' psychological stamina. All three men are tested to the limit.
The Human Race is an adventure documentary with a difference. Filmed on 16mm film by three crews, it is a major documentary special. One of the highest rating independently made documentaries screened by ABC in 1997.
Triumph of the Spirit Award, 1997 Mountainfilm Festival, Telluride, USA.
Peoples' Choice Award, BANFF International Mountain and Adventure Film Festival.
Best Cinematography, Non-Feature Film, 1997 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards.
Special Mention of the Jury for Great Human Sportsmanship, 1997 Festival International du Film Maritime et d'Exploration.
Finalist, Adventure Category, 9th International Mountain & Adventure Filmfestival Graz (Austria).
Shadows in the Sun aka Requiem for a Generation of Lost Souls (1996)1 hour documentary for ABC
Japanese pilgrims comfort the souls of their war dead in Papua New Guinea while at home past and present generations struggle with the uneasy legacies of wartime on location in Japan and Papua New Guinea. Broadcast on ABC in 1996.
Certificate of Merit, 1996 Chicago Film Festival.
No Milk No Honey (1996)1 hour documentary for Film Australia and SBS
In the 1920's thousands of immigrants arrived in Western Australia from England on a promise that they would be given farms to work. Few understood the hardships they would face clearing the hardwood forests to make a diary industry in WA. One of the highest rating independently made programs screened on SBS in 1997.
Silk and Steel (1995)1 hour documentary for ABC
An intimate view of the influence of women in Indonesia. Here women have been valued as wives and mothers yet denied the eductional and legal opportunities offered to men. As workers they have suffered sexual discrimination and usually been paid poor wages. Politically they are poorly represented and culturally they are increasingly under pressure from the Muslim religion to cover up and stay home. Silk and Steel looks at the role women play in Indonesian society. It investigates how women are fighting back and finding their voice.
Below the Wind (1994)1 hour documentary for ABC
The Sea Nomads of Indonesia - The most remarkable remaining seafaring peoples of the world inhabit the eastern islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Almost forgotten in the rapidly developing Indonesian nation, they struggle to make a living from harvesting the sea.
In Below the Wind, we sail with some of these fisherfolk as they migrate south to Rote and then daringly enter Australian waters, relying on little else but their ancestral knowledge of winds and currents to survive.
Below the Wind provides its audience with the knowledge to better understand the complexities of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia and the impact that international agreements in the setting of national borders have on the maritime traditions of the fishing peoples of the Indonesian archipelago.
Joys of the Women (1992)1 hour documentary co-production with Realworld Pictures for ABC
A moving, humourous and sometimes quirky music documentary about a group of larger-than-life characters who win fans wherever they go. The film focuses on a number of members of the Fremantle Women's Choir The Joys of the Women, who have defied sex role conventions and cultural constraints to realise their long held passions. Singer/songwriter Kavisha Mazzella is the main motivating force behind the women, finding lost songs from generations gone by and bringing them back to life through the Choir.
Screened to critical acclaim in cinemas across Australia before being broadcast on the ABC. Nominated for a Dendy Award at the Sydney Film Festival and for Best Documentary by the Film Critics Circle of Australia in 1993. Invited to screen at the Treizieme Bilan du Film Ethnographique in Paris.
Joys of the Women 20th Anniversary ScreeningDirector Franco Di Chiera's The Joys of the Women documentary is about to relive its glorious past with a special screening to celebrate its 20th anniversary at the Luna Cinema. The night includes live performances by The Joys of the Women Choir and Kavisha Mazella, Member of the Order of Australia, award-winning singer/songwriter and founder of the Choir. A Special Q&A with Di Chiera and Mazella follows the screening. Luna Cinemas Leederville, Thursday 29 November 6.45pm for a 7pm start.
Nominated, Dendy Awards, 1993 Sydney Film Festival.
Invited to screen at the Festival dei Popoli, Florence and the Treizieme Bilan du Film Ethnographique, Paris.
Nominated, Best Documentary by the Film Critics Circle of Australia, 1993.