7:30 PM, 13th August, 2014
7:30 PM – Introduction to the film by Andrew Pike of Ronin Films
7:40 PM – Screening commences
9:15 PM – Post-screening Q&A with Professor Des Ball
Tonight is a special event. Allies is one of Australia’s great documentary landmarks directed by Walkley award-winning journalist Marian Wilkinson. It had a huge impact on its first release in 1983 when it was screened nationally in cinemas. Since then it has rarely been seen until its resurrection this year by Canberra’s own Ronin Films.
The film will be introduced by Andrew Pike, one of the people who started the ANU Film Group way back in 1966, a life member of our society and owner of Ronin Films. After the screening ANU’s Professor Des Ball, who has a significant role in the film, will join us for a discussion.
Jimmy Carter had this to say about our professor: “Professor Ball helped save the world from potential nuclear holocaust. His counsel and cautionary advice, based on deep research, made a great difference to our collective goal of avoiding nuclear war.”
The film stands today as a document of rare authenticity. Made without a narrator, and with discreet use of archival images, the film is told entirely by people who participated first-hand in the events and by contemporary academic observers. All credit to Wilkinson this early in her career for not only securing such an extraordinary range of interviewees, and coaxing them into such frank and revealing reflections, but also for pulling all of these elements together into such a coherent and forceful whole.
The documentary looks at diplomatic relations between Australia and the USA since the Second World War. In the 1960s Australia had committed troops to the Vietnam War and was a staunch ally of the USA. Australia went ‘all the way with LBJ’, and secret US surveillance bases were established. When the Whitlam Government (1972-1975) withdrew troops from Vietnam, relations between Australia and the USA became strained.
“President Lyndon B. Johnson always thought that Australia was the next large rectangular state beyond El Paso, and treated it accordingly” – Marshall Green, US Ambassador to Australia, 1973-75.
There is so much to captivate the interested viewer. I was amazed that Wilkinson was able to get such honest and open interviews from people who today would surely be more cautious. Come along to support this special event.