Dare to Struggle Film Festival celebrates radical action

April 26, 2022
'Addressing Unfinished Business' film by Amanda King
A still from 'Addressing Unfinished Business' by Amanda King. Photo: filmfreeway.com

The Dare to Struggle Film Festival (DTSFF) was successfully held in Sydney on April 22‒23. More than 50 films on a variety of people's campaigns were shown in four sessions at Trades Hall and the NSW Teachers Federation auditoriums.

The festival was sponsored by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney Branch, four other progressive unions, Unions New South Wales and radical video production team, Art Resistance.

Communist and union movement veteran Judy Mundey served as the festival's patron.

The Festival celebrated “the stories and struggles of individuals, groups and communities trying to improve the world and create a fairer and more just society”, said the organisers, building on a “strong history of Australian and international working class and progressive film making”.

The Festival was unique in that it welcomed filmmakers “from all walks of life at any level of film making experience”. For example, in the lead up to the Festival, training workshops were held to help improve the production and editing skills of budding filmmakers. The aim being to “establish a network of activist filmmakers, connected with each other and the struggles in which they, their community and their unions are involved”, said the organisers.

Former MUA Sydney Branch secretary Paul McAleer and MUA activist Erima Dall welcomed the audience to the festival’s opening night at Trades Hall, which featured films about union and workers’ struggles. The selection included: The 2021 Teachers’ Strike, made by Rhiannon Sawyer; Climate Action a Workers’ Issue, by Amanda King, Fabio Cavadini and Jamie McMechan; Lethal Bias, by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, (about the Coalition government's war on construction workers); Song for Christopher, by Gary McCarthy, (about the death of a young worker on a building site); Jack Mundey, by the DTSFF, (about the icon of the NSW Green Bans movement); and The 2022 Nurses’ Strike, also by the DTSFF.

The audience was addressed by Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey, Judy Mundey and NSW Teachers’ Federation secretary Maxine Sharkey. All stressed the importance of film and other cultural media as vehicles for explaining and promoting the key struggles of workers and people's campaigns.

The following day’s sessions included: an emerging filmmakers’ screening; films about Aboriginal, refugee and environmental topics; and the Festival awards night.

Some of the 21 short films shown at the Awards Night included: Defend Errinundra, by Isaac Carne, (about the struggle of a small community in East Gippsland, Victoria, to save one of the last unburnt forests after the 2019‒20 bushfires); Stand With Us, by Alex Bainbridge, (a music video of Phil Monsour singing his song “Stand With Us” outside the refugee prison/hotel at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane); Through Her Eyes, by Jason Haji-Ali, (a poetic composition about the filmmaker’s First Nations cultural identity); Love and Revolution, by Jacqui North, (about the call by Palestinian and queer women for peace, justice, an end to colonial violence and apartheid); and Freedom is Mine, by Mahmoud Salameh Abu Qutmah, (a film about asylum seekers detained in Australia).

Former Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and MUA organiser Shane Reside announced the Festival’s prize-winners: First prize went to Addressing Unfinished Business, by Amanda King, Fabio Cavadini and Jamie McMechan, (a documentary about the role of the union movement in supporting the Uluru Statement of the Heart); second prize went to A Rohingya's Journey, by Ed Coney, (a refugee story of strength, hope and determination); and third prize went to A Radical Hope, by Zebedee Parkes, (following three high school students as they organised the March 25, 2022, Global Climate Strike in Sydney).

Judges for the DTSFF were: filmmaker Katrina Channells, director of a number of acclaimed films, including Leaving Allen Street, Milly and Stingray Sisters; Rita Mallia, president of the NSW CFMEU construction and general division; Fahad Ali, science educator and Palestinian community organiser; and Paul Keating, MUA Sydney branch secretary.

[Another festival is planned for 2023. For more information click here.] 

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