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JABILUKA

Australia, 1997 (MIFF 1998, Australian Showcase)

Director: David Bradbury

Visually stunning and simply told, Jabiluka is the chilling story of how the Mirrar people were pressured into allowing uranium mining at Jabiluka in Kakadu National Park. Telling first-hand accounts and archival footage of the 'negotiation' process present a damning picture of government duplicity. As events unfold we learn the likely impact of increased mining on Kakadu's fragile wetlands. Government and mining company reassurances, regarding nearby Ranger mine, provide little comfort here, particularly when Bradbury reveals the government Office of the Supervising Scientist now receives much of its data from the mining company, to save costs! Nor does the Minister's ban on comment by the Office inspire confidence.

Beginning with a post apocalyptic vision, Jabiluka is a timely reminder of what's at stake in this 20 year-long struggle - a natural paradise that Mirrar representative Jacqui Katona calls, "The jewel in the crown of Australia's World Heritage listing," for both natural and cultural significance.

The power of Bradbury's craft lies in his unnerving ability to cut through the layers of rhetoric which obscure the real story behind the news flashes. The urgency of the threat to Kakadu is a pressing issue which places into new perspective the broader debates of reconciliation and our lingering colonial mind-set. Jabiluka is a challenging film for challenging times.

David Bradbury is an internationally recognised filmmaker who began documentary work in the late 1970s. Both Frontline (1979) - a portrait of news cameraman Neil Davis - and Chile: Hasto Cuando (1985) were nominated for Academy Awards and won AFI and MIFF Best Documentary awards. Bradbury's films include South of the Border (1988), The Last Whale (1994) and Nazi Supergrass (1993), an expose of the neo-Nazi Australian Nationalist Movement in Perth.

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