On April 17, Dendy Newtown hosted a preview screening of the new documentary The Giants followed by an in-person discussion with environmentalist Bob Brown and the filmmakers.
The film interweaves Brown’s story with the life cycle of the ancient trees he has been fighting for since he moved from his medical career as a doctor into activism to protect the Tasmanian environment from industrialisation. His early efforts included inspiring people to gather along the Franklin River and put their bodies on the line to stop a proposed dam being built.
On screen Brown’s trailblazing life highlights the rise of the environmental movement in Australia from the successful Franklin River campaign in 1983 to today’s fight for the Tarkine. The film also shows how this sensitive man who struggled with his homosexuality (due to people’s shameful attitudes towards gayness) took green politics to the centre of power.
To immerse viewers in the wilderness and show the beauty of trees (Eucalyptus regnans, the Huon pine and myrtle beech for example) the directors have created point cloud animations rendered from 3D scans.
“In The Giants, the screen is two-dimensional but its renderings feel like spaces that are beckoning to be explored,” says Luke Buckmaster in his review of the movie in The Guardian.
The description of the film on documentaryaustralia.com.au, says The Giants creates “an epic and creative portrait of the Forest that combines monumental ‘tree portraits’ and immersive, animated ‘3D forest scans’ with spine-tingling sound design and a powerful soundtrack featuring human vocals – to literally give a voice to these trees.”
The website also likens the urge of filmmakers Rachel Antony and Laurence Billiet to ignite activism that will protect forests to the pivotal time when Bob Brown’s collaboration with leading Tasmanian photographer Peter Dombrovskis “proved decisive in capturing the public’s imagination and inspiring them into action”.
Bob Brown’s spiritual connection to nature continues to sustain him, which is also inspiring.