BLOWIN' IN THE WIND
This documentary attacks the secret treaty that allows the US military to train and test its weaponry on Australian soil. It also looks at the impact of using recycled uranium in weapons and the dangers this poses to the health of not just Australians but everyone around the globe. Examples of the results from the use of such weapons in the Gulf War, Kosovo and Iraq suggest that not only birth defects likely, but that the long term after-effects are unknown.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The impact of the good journalism evident here is lessened by the giving in to editorial temptation; like the footage covering US sailors on R&R in Perth and the touting of brothel keepers on the dock, smack bang in the middle of the film. It follows sequences that drive the two basic and related stories David Bradbury follows.
One is the nasty after effects of Depleted Uranium (DU) when used in weapons, as it is. This is what gives the film its title; Bradbury's film suggests that the airborne debris from these weapons circulates into the upper atmosphere, where it is blown around the globe and eventually ends up back on earth, either brought down by rain or through the air.
The second is the matter of a US/Australia treaty that allows US military training on Australian soil - and which permits the use of DU, thus bringing the danger close to Australian communities. Not only in the all important health issues, but also on environmental grounds. US servicemen coming ashore may be the excuse for the brothel keeper footage, although it smacks of manipulative filmmaking.
It is no bad thing that Bradbury has a bias and that he takes an editorial stance. But it's a bit cynical to include the girls on the waterfront.
All in all, it's a pretty one sided argument, with no counterweight views about either subject (except for newsreel footage of politicians talking about the treaty and its usefulness in general poli-waffle). But that's partly because the Department of Defence wouldn't participate unless it could review the finished film and make changes, according to the filmmakers, who also state that tThe Minister for Defence never responded to interview requests.
However, the film again leaves itself open to criticism for including a story about a deformed baby born at Shoalhaven; it is acknowledged that there is no evidence of a link to the training area and the use of DU, and there is no information about any other births at the time. This is not the sort of rigorous journalism that gives one confidence.
The film is most effective when demonstrating direct lies about the issues, and when setting out the facts. Or when it has State MP for Keppel, Paul Hoolihan, asking why the training isn't being done in George Bush's backyard (referring to a speech he made in Parliament). It is less successful when it succumbs to the temptation to preach.
My humble advice is to edit together 5 - 10 minutes of the most telling, factual material (eg reality versus the lie) and distribute that to politicians and communities, local tv stations and the media.
The thrust of Bradbury’s documentary was roundly discredited by the Australian Defence Force, then Opposition Leader Kim Beazley and Queensland Health (according to reports in The Weekend Australian (November 26/27, 2005) who all rebutted the film’s central claims that depleted uranium was used by the US military at the Shoalwater Bay defence training area near Rockhampton and that this has resulted in birth defects.
The denials by the ADF were not included in Bradbury’s film, and Queensland Health showed figures that birth defects were noted in 7 of 255 births in the local area, a rate of 2.7%, well below the State average of 3.6%. This information – which totally contradicts the filmmaker’s accusation - is not included in the film.
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BLOWIN' IN THE WIND (MA)
NARRATION: Lisa Peers
PRODUCER: David Bradbury, Peter Scott
DIRECTOR: David Bradbury
SCRIPT: Mike Rubbo, Deb Cox, David Bradbury, Peter Scott
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Bradbury
EDITOR: Peter Scott
RUNNING TIME: 62 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 27, 2005 (in double bill with Jewboy)