WILD THINGS

Reviewed by GREG KING

Documentary

Director: Sally Ingleton.

The film’s subtitle A Year On The Frontline of Environmental Activism tells you all you need to know about this documentary from veteran award-winning filmmaker Sally Ingleton. This is the first feature documentary from Ingleton whose career spans some thirty years and whose documentaries explore social issues.

Australia has a rich history of environmental activism that has preserved many numerous wilderness areas from development. Wild Things traces the history of environmental activism in Australia from the fight to save the Franklin River from being dammed to the current fight to stop the Adani coal mine in Queensland. Archival footage of some of the earliest historical campaigns gives context to the current struggles to address climate change. A good deal of the film follows teenage activist Harriet O’Shea Carre, the fifteen-year-old schoolgirl from Castlemaine who was largely responsible for organising the student strike and protests to heighten awareness of the government’s inaction on addressing the urgent need for action on climate change. Her actions bring a rebuke from Prime Minister Scott Morrison who says that there should be less activism in schools. But Ingleton clearly believes that young people like Carre are future leaders in the environmental arena, alongside the likes of Greta Thunberg. There is a growing army of eco activists.

Ingleton also spends some time at the Bindee camp set up in Queensland where grandmothers and other concerned activists gather to peacefully protest the attempts of Adani to develop a coal mine. And she also follows the dedicated efforts of Dr Lisa Searle, who also works with Medicins Sans Frontieres in war zones around the world, in actively trying to prevent logging of Tasmania’s pristine wilderness and the Tarkine wilderness.

There are plenty of interviews with many of these activists who express their concerns for the future of the planet. There is plenty of archival footage, juxtaposed with handheld footage, sensational drone footage, and smartphone footage taken on the ground at many of these protests that lend an urgency to the material. The film also looks at how the use of social media has helped to heighten awareness, as the messages from activists about new action goes viral almost immediately. The film shows how getting the message to the people has changed since the days of the Franklin River protests.

Ingleton and editor Steven Robinson deftly weave the various strands together for a compelling picture of the realities of climate change and the dangers of continued inaction. The documentary has been beautifully filmed and showcases the natural beauty of these areas that are under threat from development.

However, there is a feeling that Ingleton’s passionate call to arms is preaching to the converted.

★★★

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