The last several years have seen a dramatic shift in the Australian terrorism landscape. Over 150 of our youth have left Australia to partake in hostilities overseas, coupled with unprecedented domestic terrorism attacks. Understanding the radicalisation phenomenon is the key to these events. Why have our young embarked on a journey leading to their almost certain death, while bringing harm to their families and the Australian community? What role does religion play? How do we make the shift from addressing symptoms, to finding a cure?Radical is an important documentary that seeks to answer these questions, untangling an often complex and sensitive topic. Radical explores the causes of religiously motivated terrorism via a number of experts and through the eyes of previously charged and convicted terrorists. The film seeks to find a more effective response to the Australian radicalisation phenomenon. Commentary is provided by leading religious leaders, academics, senior government law enforcement officials and ministers. These complex topics are navigated by the director, a former refugee from Iran and an admitted lawyer, supported by a team from the University of Sydney, Centre for International Security Studies.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Radical meets the aims of a philanthropic foundation as it is focused on a highly topical Australian issue which has wide-reaching impact on minority groups, the community and the government apparatus geared to combat terrorism. In short, Radical aims to address an ongoing emerging phenomenon that has wide-reaching negative impact on our broader community and minority groups. The film aims to cultivate positive social change and in the process, bridge the gaps created in our community as a result of religiously motivated violence. It will achieve this by challenging widespread assumptions about Muslims, those who engage in acts of terror under the banner of Islam, and law enforcement officers combating terrorism at the frontlines.The primary aim of Radical is to raise awareness regarding religiously motivated violence to the Australian public, while seeking to curb its highly negative effects. Terrorism has ongoing ripple effects lasing beyond individual actions. Those who travel overseas to engage in hostilities leave behind devastated families. Those who commit terrorist acts under the guise of religion tear the fabric of our society, inducing misguided hatred against the very people they purport to represent. Their actions often lead to a misguided criticism of Islam, segregating the Islamic Community further. Ultimately, the individual radical is a human being who is often troubled, disenfranchised and caught in a toxic web. The film will highlight why individuals are taking part in terrorism, what impact it has on their communities, problems facing the current government approach, and the importance of understanding the interplay of these issues. To navigate these topics, the project is being led by a director that possesses a strong cultural background, underpinned by relevant postgraduate education.Media is a powerful tool with global reach. It captivates and attracts audiences and in the case of Radical, effectively conveys messages of significant social importance. A tangible potential exists to change the mind of ‘future radicals’, while building community resilience vis-à-vis the ongoing terrorism phenomenon. Conversely, Radical can help law enforcement officers better understand the communities that are affected by terrorism and counter the right-wing racist political opportunism which often presents as a result of terrorism.With funding support, Radical will leave a long-lasting positive footprint of social change in Australia while highlighting the human side to an issue which has been often misrepresented.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
Radical is a film geared to educate the Australian public, students and youth regarding radicalisation from those who have experienced the phenomenon firsthand, and faced its consequences. Second, Radical seeks to understand and unravel the fundamental causes of radicalisation, without bias or agenda. Third, the project aims to bridge the cultural divide and insensitivities caused by religiously motivated terrorism in Australia today. Finally, by exploring these issues, it will offer a more effective response to combating cotemporary terrorism in Australia, thereby potentially reducing the overall terrorism risk.Throughout the production process, the filmmaking team have continually sought to calibrate the content for the most effective impact. The trailer has now been screened to a variety of focus groups including at a special event held at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen. Based on the feedback, the trailer is being re-edited and further interviews and onsite shoots are being planned (including overseas interviews). The trailer has also been screened at the University of Sydney postgraduate International Security classes followed by Q&A sessions by the director and executive producer. Feedback by students has been collated and will be applied to the final production. The filmmaking team will review how terrorism is policed. For example, data of arrests verses non-prosecutorial intervention will be reviewed after the film’s introduction to police. The Radical Team will be seeking to engage an evaluation specialist to develop a ‘pre and post’ questionnaire targeted at university students, measuring their understanding of the central issues before and after watching the film. These will be measured against education outcomes for a quantitative measure of Radical’s educational impact in security and social studies.Radical has been pitched to Think Inc. and has received the organisation’s support. It is envisaged that collaboration will take place to introduce the film to leading world-class intellectuals to critically analyse the film and provided formal commentary regarding its overall impact. A social media campaign, supported by Think Inc. and Conceptavision and will measure viewer engagement and track these numbers from when the final film is released.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
Radical has a strong educational foundation and platform, being born as part of a postgraduate thesis. The project is led by the director under the supervision of academic and filmmaker, Professor James Der Derian who has directed a number of films subject to educational application. Radical was conceived following an earlier short academic film, The Lure of Khourafa, a documentary short on the ISIS phenomenon. This was a class project led by the director, at the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney. The film project has already served as an educational tool for a broad range of students, including the filmmakers. It is planned that the final film will include chaptered and scene-selected versions for teaching in the classroom, with an accompanying study guide produced collaboratively by scholars and students working on the project. This can be targeted towards students at a variety of levels. At high school level, students can gain insight into terrorism and its consequences thereby acting as a preventative tool. At tertiary and government level, students and researchers can use the film to develop theoretical concepts and formulate more effective policies to counter terrorism.The team has collaborated with Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre at the University of Sydney which has accepted Radical as an academic peer review project. The film’s concept and trailer (including long trailer) will be presented at ‘Global Media’ postgraduate students at the Centre for International Security Studies and Department of Media and Communications. Moreover, master classes, panel discussions and a director’s talk are planned at these events. Radical is a film that serves as an innovative method for addressing a pressing contemporary Australian issue. The film will bring the sensitive issue of terrorism into the living room of everyday Australians (in addition to students) and allow them to understand the topic in an objective, balanced and educational manner. It is clear that terrorism has been a divisive issue in Australia for many years and has had a longstanding negative effect on communities throughout Australia. Radical seeks to bring about educational change in an innovative and engaging manner by employing film as an educational tool. The main outreach platform for the project, in addition to planned social media campaign, is a comprehensive website. A draft website has been made and is currently online for restricted viewing. The site will contain information regarding the film, the interviewees, the filmmakers and behind the scenes images, in addition to a trailer and social media output. Our outreach goal will incorporate leveraging off current partnerships with educational, government and private bodies to supplement a digital strategy.