‘Indonesia Calling: Joris Ivens in Australia’ explores the historical context of Australia’s early relationship with its northern neighbour, and the impact made by this small film on emerging Australian documentary film culture.
Joris Ivens came to Australia early in 1945, as the Netherlands East Indies Film Commissioner. The Netherlands East Indies – now Indonesia – was occupied by the Japanese during the war.
When the Dutch moved to reoccupy their former colony, Indonesians in Australia under their command went on strike, and Australian, Indian and Chinese workers supported them. Joris Ivens also ‘walked off’. He resigned from his post as Film Commissioner in protest against his government’s actions, and, with a diverse team of creative collaborators, began to make what became the independent documentary ‘Indonesia Calling’.
The film helped to create a fertile ground for later independent filmmaking. It also provoked a covert response from the state, suspicious, authoritarian and disciplinary. An independent film made with limited resources but with
passion and commitment, ‘Indonesia Calling’ not only enunciated a new possibility in Australia’s dialogue with Indonesia, but also announced a new mode of collaboration in an emerging Australian documentary practice.” – FilmInk