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'Bodies in Barrels' story told in film -

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'Bodies in Barrels' story told in film

Broadcast: 25/02/2011

Reporter: Anne Maria Nicholson

Fifteen years after the infamous murders in Snowtown, South Australia, a film by the same name has
premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Transcript

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: There have already been books and documentaries, but now, 15 years after the
notorious 'bodies in the barrels' murders in South Australia, there's a feature film.

The movie, called Snowtown after the place where most of the 12 murder victims were found, had its
world premiere tonight at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Anne Maria Nicholson reports on how this controversial film came to be made.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON, ARTS REPORTER: This is a scene from Snowtown, the highly anticipated film
about the 12 South Australian murders dubbed 'the bodies in the barrels.'

The real murders took place in Adelaide 15 years ago, and most of the bodies were taken to
Snowtown. All four killers are now in jail.

The film is told through the eyes of the youngest, James Vlassakis, who fell under the spell of
notorious John Bunting.

It's been a baptism of fire for first-time director Justin Kurzel.

JUSTIN KURZEL, DIRECTOR: The film will bring up some anguish with some of the people connected to
the events in the film. I'm just hoping that, you know, the film is an observation, and I hope that
it engages with the audience about why and how this happened.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: Government agencies defended their controversial decision to help fund the
$2.5 million movie.

CHERYL BART, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN FILM COMMISSION: We've had many scripts over the years about the
topic. But they've been more of those kind of gore-fest and we weren't mindful to do that.

So, this was a particularly strong script about the psychology of evil, it's not a sort of a
slasher movie, it is a difficult subject.

KATRINA SEDGEWICK, ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL: We certainly had a long discussion before we committed
to the funds. But having read the script and seen the calibre of the creative team, we just felt it
wasn't a project that we could say no to.

You know, art isn't about entertainment all the time, it's not just about the good things in life,
it's also about the dark things in life.

MICHAEL O'CONNELL, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN VICTIMS OF CRIME COMISSIONER: I'm not keen about any sort of
film that's made that focuses on murder and doesn't actually show the true costs, the consequences
for people. It's not my cup of tea, it's not my type of movie.

However, I agree that in Australia we have a right, a freedom of speech, and within the arts area
there's an opportunity for that freedom to be explored and examined and depicted through these
types of films.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: Victims of Crime Commissioner Michael O'Connell originally opposed the film.
Later he represented the victims' families, working with the filmmakers to address community
concerns. He's seen the film and says it doesn't glorify the murders.

MICHAEL O'CONNELL: What it does is challenges us, as a community, to think about the contribution
that we make in our broad social policy towards shaping people who can ultimately become such
horrible, such disgusting criminals.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: But he said the families declined an invitation to see the film.

MICHAEL O'CONNELL: They decided that it was likely to be too distressing for them. That they felt
extremely anxious. Some said that they had decided that they didn't want to relive such an horrific
part in their life.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: The consultations surrounding the making of the film Snowtown have created a
precedent. With a public hunger for stories about crime and murder it may be the blueprint when it
comes to making more movies about real life events.

JUSTIN KURZEL: Michael has been a liaison between us and the families. So, he's been the one who's
been coordinating the kind of dialogue, I guess, between us and the families.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: And did you, were there any requests that you thought you couldn't really
agree to, in terms like that would have impacted, like, on your artistic freedom?

JUSTIN KURZEL: No.

ANNE MARIA NICHOLSON: Snowtown will be released nationally in May.

Anne Maria Nicholson, Lateline.