Documentary with a twist of Canberra

GOOD documentaries may be all the rage, but they’re not exactly new and the ever-vigilant ANU Film Group will screen a very Canberra-relevant one on August 13.

“Allies” is considered one of Australia’s great documentary landmarks. Directed by journalist Marian Wilkinson and first released in 1983, it’s been reissued and released as a DVD by Ronin Films.

Allies DVD slickRonin director Andrew Pike says Wilkinson picked up on Bob Hawke’s unequivocal embrace of Australia’s alliance with America and involves sensational footage, as the story is told first hand by players in the game, including ex-CIA officials such as Victor Marchetti, Frank Snepp, Ray Cline, convicted spy Christopher Boyce (filmed in prison) and politicians including John Gorton and Clyde Cameron.

And it’s no secret. Even Marshall Green, US Ambassador to Australia from 1973-75 once wrote: “President Lyndon B. Johnson always thought that Australia was the next large rectangular state beyond El Paso, and treated it accordingly”.

“Allies” looks at diplomatic relations between Australia and the US since World War II. In the 1960s it was “all the way with LBJ”, but when the Whitlam Government withdrew troops from Vietnam, relations between Australia and the US became strained.

Pike believes this film is particularly relevant in light of Malcolm Fraser’s recent book “Dangerous Allies”.

One of the key figures in the doco is ANU Professor Des Ball, “the man who saved the world” according to Jimmy Carter. Ball will be on hand for a discussion after the screening, which will be introduced by Pike, who helped start the ANU Film Group in 1966.

“Allies” (95 mins, PG), HC Coombs Building, ANU campus, 7.30pm, Wednesday, August 13, information at

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