Set against the backdrop of an ever increasing thirst for fossil fuels by the extractive industry and the Australian government, who is set on being a leader in an industry which has become much maligned by scientists, environmental groups, economists, communities and a growing number of world leaders.
BLACK HOLE is an intensely riveting exposè of the ongoing battle to save the last of an endangered woodland forest from being cleared to make way to one of the largest open cut coal mines in production in Australia. The Leard State Forest has stunning old growth box-gum woodland forest, it is considered a national biodiversity hotspot. The list of significant threatened and vulnerable species habitat to be impacted includes: Swift Parrot , Turquoise Parrot, Regent Honey Eater, Large-eared Pied Bat, Spotted tailed quoll, Masked Owl, Squirrel Glider and the Koala. In total the mines would turn 3500 hectares of
forest into an open-cut coal pit.
A four year battle has raged against Whitehaven Coal, an unprecedented movement has arisen with an unlikely alliance of farmers, grandparents, war veterans, doctors,religious leaders and environmentalists participating in one of the most sustained campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience in Australia, putting their bodies on the line to bring awareness to the invasion of the extractive industry into Australia's food basin.
In 2011 the first action of civil disobedience was taken against another adjoining coal mine, Boggabri Mine. Subsequently the campaign increased and the first blockade of a coal mine in Australia was created by Murray Dreschler and Jonathan Moylan in the Leard State Forest. After 500 days embedded in the forest, the campaigners were given a move on order. Local farmer Cliff Wallace invited the blockade onto his farm called 'Wando', knowing to well what is at risk with the onset of this mine. Those risks being the lowering of the water table by metres, noise and dust pollution and the changing fabric of the once quiet community of Maules Creek.
The Leard State Forest campaign is a piece of Australian history, being spoken in the same breath as other iconic environmental campaigns in Australian history, such as the Franklin River Blockade in Tasmania, as well as the Jabiluka Uranium Mine Blockade in the Northern Territory. It has galvanised people from all spectrums of Australian society and further aﬁeld.
This is far more than just a campaign to stop a coal mine, this is ground zero for empowerment of citizens who have become disenchanted with a system that is portrayed as a democracy.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
There are many supporters within the philanthropic community for human rights and environmental issues in Australia and around Australia. A lot of the time there is individuals or organisations with funding who would like to make a difference but just do not know how or where to make a difference.
BLACK HOLE explores the fight to stop the clearing of the Leard State Forest, transforming it into an open cut coal mine. Black Hole is a feature documentary that aims to tell the Maules Creek story through the voices of the many diverse and colourful characters including the Local Farmers, Indigenous Elders, Scientists, Community Supporters, Mining company personal, Police and Politicians. The community concerns range from the destruction of sacred Indigenous burial sites, the clear felling of one of the last intact areas of White Box Forests, including the native flora and fauna, water table contamination, water acquisition rights, coal dust pollution and cost of living just to name a few.
BLACK HOLE has been in production over the past six (6 months) and during this time the issues concerning Maules Creek Mine and it's approval processes have continued to expand. With this expansion of the increasing critique on the development of Maules Creek, many things have begun to be exposed in relation to alleged corruption within the NSW State Government with donation to political parties. As it turns out, the main person highlighted in the on going ICAC investigation is Nathan Tinkler who happens to be the former owner of Maules Creek Mine.
There are many concerns with the Maules Creek Project including land, water, environmental, social, health effects, human rights with the Indigenous Gomeroi as well as the degradation of democracy in Australia surrounding the approval process of projects in the extractive industry.
I truly believe that there are many issues of concern and BLACK HOLE is intent on investigating every aspect of the most controversial Coal Mines in Australia, which is setting a precedence on so many levels, this including one of the largest mobilisations of opposition to a mine in Australia's history.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
INSPIRE INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES, ENCOURAGE DEBATE
Actively engage the people of Australia to see what is occurring in Australia with extractive industry, and to stand up and to ask for legitimate answers to the questions of what is the real benefit to the local community, Australia and the world community as a whole. We do require a resource industry there is no question about that. But to what point to we need it and at what cost!
DISPEL MYTHS AND MISINFORMATION
Attempting to get access to both sides of the fence and putting forward the arguments for and against the creation of the Maules Creek Mine and the subsequent concerns that are attached to the development of one of Australia,s largest coal mines.
HUMANISE THE ISSUE
Show the human stories behind the issue behind the Maules Creek Mine in the Leard State Forest by the various stakeholders. As looking at the social movement of civil disobedience which has snow balled over the past two (2) years.
MEASURE IMPACT BY
- online activity
- online views, audience numbers\n- mentions via social media, viral channels
- selection of film for national secondary school curriculum
- Changing policy of Stater and Federal Government in re-balancing the approval process of the extractive industry in order to actually acknowledge the concerns of many people.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
BLACK HOLE gained 300 contributors to it's crowd funding campaign, and through subsequent promotion has a following of nearly 1000 people on the BLACK HOLE Facebook page. This has occurred over only the past 4 months which has been exciting to see.
There has been interest from Film Festivals already, even before the completion of the film. Also there has been great support from community groups who waiting in anticipation for the film to be completed and to help screen it.
BLACK HOLE will be released in January/February 2015, and will then be toured firstly on the east coast of Australia through major cities and rural communities for a theatrical release. There is also ongoing investigation to other forms of distribution if possible, but realistically after public screenings it will be set free on the internet.
During the process of production, there has been over 60 interviews captured from various people. The aspiration is that if it receives a DVD distribution or when it is released online. A specific CHannel (vimeo) will be created. BLACK HOLE will be translated (subtitled) into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and each video will be uploaded. Also the plan is to then edit each interview and upload so the audience can chose to find out more in depth what peoples opinions are.