Anyone who doubts the cinema’s propensity to inspire social change and prompt real life call-to-arms should read this report from yesterday’s The Age, which discusses the Australian Federal Police’s new inquiry into the deaths of the Balibo Five (pictured left). Here’s the opening sentence:
It seems a bit of a coincidence to Greig Cunningham that the Australian Federal Police has suddenly, after 34 years, decided to investigate the deaths of his brother, Gary, and four journalist colleagues in East Timor.
And that is of course because it is no coincidence: anybody with half a brain will point to director Robert Connolly’s recently released political sizzler Balibo as the impetus behind the AFP’s new investigation. It is a timely example of the film industry’s ability to influence public debate and draw issues into the national conscience. This, as Connolly explained to me last month, was one of the reasons he decided to make the film. On these terms – and certainly many others – Balibo has been a resounding success.