Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday March 25, 2020 


Brenda Hean was one of the first leaders of an environmental political party in the world, whose fight to save Tasmania's Lake Pedder from being flooded by the largest hydro-electric power scheme in the southern hemisphere. In 1972, Brenda and her pilot, Max Price, are flying in a light plane to petition the Australian Prime Minister in Canberra in a last ditch effort to save the Lake. But the plane disappears without trace. The battle for Lake Pedder is lost. The plane is never found. In 2007, an environmental activist comes to Tasmanian filmmaker, Scott Millwood, with a large fat envelope and says "Use this for good". Inside are the Tasmanian Police Files detailing the secret, behind-the-scenes story of the plane's disappearance - a story never made public. Millwood offers $100,000 reward for information that solves the mystery. The story is told through the prism of Millwood searching for how and why she disappeared, retracing her footsteps, interviewing those who knew her, piecing together a portrait of her life.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This is a fascinating doco, every bit as intriguing as a mystery thriller.

Brenda Hean was not a radical young rebel of the 80s; she was a middle class, middle aged woman of the early 70s, who played piano and dressed better than the politicians she was hectoring about the plans to flood Lake Pedder. That alone would make hers a fascinating story. The fact that she and the pilot of a small plane heading for Canberra on a protest flight disappeared without trace amidst the heat of the protests, adds highly flammable fuel to it.

The story drags in Tasmania's politicians and the police whose violence towards environmental activists is indistinguishable from that of the angry forestry workers. Nice place, this. Scott Millwood uses the broader view of Tasmania's green battles to put this story in context. He also uncovers suggestions that it was the pilot, Max Price, not Hean, who was the real target in any proactive move to remove the plane and its passengers from the sky.

Or was it plain greed - many people stood to make big money from the hydro scheme. The mystery remains. It may just have been an accident. No matter, it's become a myth.

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(Aust, 2008)

CAST: Documentary featuring Brenda Hean

PRODUCER: Michael McMahon, Scott Millwood

DIRECTOR: Scott Millwood

SCRIPT: Scott Millwood, Mira Robertson

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wade Fairly, Matt Newton (additional camera Natascha Stellmach, Heidi Douglas, Justine Kerrigan, Marcus Dineen)

EDITOR: Bill Murphy

MUSIC: Brett Rosenberg

OTHER: Research: Stephenie Cahalan, Sue McGrath, Sonia Bednar

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Hobart Oct. 3; Melbourne Oct. 9; Castlemaine (VIC) Oct. 12; Canberra Oct. 13, Launceston October 15; Adelaide and Sydney late October

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