Films from Australia : Curated by Shweta Kishore

17th Madurai International Documentary and Short Film Festival 2015

Films from Australia : curated by Shweta Kishore

1. Freedom Stories (99 min, 2015) Director: Steve Thomas


Freedom Stories is a documentary project exploring the contribution being made to Australian society by former asylum seekers who arrived by boat around 2001 – the year of political controversy over the MV Tampa, the Pacific solution, the children overboard affair and the SIEV X disaster.

They found themselves in indefinite mandatory detention in remote places such as Woomera or Nauru and then placed on temporary protection visas (TPVs), which extended their uncertainty. It has taken much resilience and many years for them to build secure lives, become Australian citizens and start contributing to their new country.

2. The Hungry Tide (89 min, 2011) Director: Tom Zubrycki


As part of her work for a non-government organization, Maria Tiimon, who lives in Australia, promotes awareness of the consequences of climate change. "People experience the impacts of global warming but they don't know what causes it," she explains. It turns that global warming also affects Maria personally: she was born in Kiribati, which scientists believe will be one of the first countries to disappear beneath the waves as a result of global warming. Its population of 105,000 lives six feet above sea level, and scattered over 33 islands in the Pacific Ocean. Kiribati is steadily being swallowed up by the rising sea level; trees, roads, whole villages are disappearing beneath the waves. Mass migration seems to be the only long-term solution. In 2009, while preparing for the climate conference in Copenhagen, Maria receives some bad news from home: her father is gravely ill. Zubrycki follows Maria during a long period in which there is a lot at stake for her, both in personal and professional terms. The filmmaker watches Maria's transformation from a shy young woman into a powerful lady who doesn't hesitate to push her urgent cause in front of his camera. Through Maria's story, Zubrycki tackles a theme that in time will affect many people all over the world.

3. The Trial (52 min, 2009) Director: Joan Robinson

In February 2008 twelve Muslim men went on trial in Melbourne for terrorism offences. The trial ran for nine months, heard 482 secretly taped conversations and presented 66,000 pages of evidence. With unique access to Greg Barns, one of the key defense barristers, and Omar Merhi, the brother of the youngest accused, The Trial takes us inside one of the biggest court cases in Australia’s history. A trial where there is more at stake than just the fate of the accused.

4.Welcome to Australia (50 min. 1999) Director: John Pilger

The Australian heroine from start, when she carried the Olympic torch into the stadium, to finish, as she crossed the line to take 400m gold, was the indigenous athlete Cathy Freeman. Against the will of many of her still oppressed people, she came to represent the symbol, albeit shallow, of reconciliation between White and Aboriginal Australia. But the frenzy of flames and fireworks surrounding the Games blinded the rest of the world to the darker side of a land down under.

In 1999, John Pilger returned home to find that the elaborate preparations for the Games overshadowed a hidden world where Aborigines continue to live in Third World conditions. He revealed that some of the greatest sportsmen and women in the world were in fact Aboriginal. Many of them, like blacks in South Africa under Apartheid, were until recently denied a place in their country's Olympic teams.

He also found that the Australian Government was in the process of overturning the landmark legislation of 1992 which finally recognized Aborigines as people with common law rights before the English colonized the country. 'Welcome to Australia: The Secret Shame Behind the Sydney Olympics' was the third film Pilger made on the Aboriginal struggle alongside fellow Australian, Alan Lowery.

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