Port Arthur victims refuse to ‘glorify’ tragedy in new Stan film
Port Arthur victims refuse to ‘glorify’ tragedy in new Stan film

Victims say no to Port Arthur film

Walter Mikac, who lost his wife and daughters in the Port Arthur massacre, knocked back requests to be involved in a controversial movie about the mass shooting as he refuses to "glorify or publicise" the tragedy.

Mr Mikac became a leading figure after the tragedy which saw 35 people killed at the Tasmanian heritage site in 1996, including his wife Nanette and their daughters Alannah, six, and three-year-old Madeline.

It was in their names he created the children's charity Alannah & Madeline Foundation which works with schools nationally on programs to keep children safe from violence and bullying.

Mr Mikac yesterday declined to comment about the film project led by director Justin Kurzel and streaming service Stan and titled NITRAM (the killer's name backwards) about one of the darkest days in Australian history.

 

Lesley Podesta and Walter Mikac at Brighton Rotary's #StopTheBullying luncheon last year. Picture: Fiona Byrne
Lesley Podesta and Walter Mikac at Brighton Rotary's #StopTheBullying luncheon last year. Picture: Fiona Byrne

 

But his foundation CEO Lesley Podesta said their response to all such approaches remained the same each time.

"The filmmakers did contact the Foundation, but we weren't aware of any logistic details or project development," she said yesterday, adding they chose not to advise the film makers.

"The Foundation is regularly contacted by researchers, writers, bloggers, playwrights, novelists and film makers seeking our support or to connect them with survivors and victims of Port Arthur.

"We politely decline as our focus is on the prevention of violence to children. We respectfully participate with the Port Arthur Authority to acknowledge the tragedy each year but we do not seek to glorify or publicise this crime."

She said no-one wanted to suppress creativity but films like this did nothing to understand violent inhumane acts and Port Arthur sadly had in the past fuelled extraordinary conspiracy theorists' horrendous and misleading documentaries.

Ms Podesta said she never advocated for censorship but hoped the latest project did not involve the indulgent glorification or "celebrity making" of the perpetrator.

Walter Mikac and family in front of Walter Mikac's Tasman Pharmacy at Nubeena. Picture: Supplied
Walter Mikac and family in front of Walter Mikac's Tasman Pharmacy at Nubeena. Picture: Supplied

Streaming service Stan announced on Monday it had commenced production of the film project, with shooting in Geelong and starring Judy Davis, Anthony LaPaglia, Essie Davis and American Caleb Landry as gunman Martin Bryant.

The announcement created a storm of opposition particularly from survivors, witnesses and those families affected by the tragedy and Tasmanians more generally.

The decision to film in Victoria as opposed to Port Arthur was out of respect to locals and anticipated backlash.

Scott Morrison said yesterday he was "unnerved" by the decision to make the movie but acknowledged it was a free society.

"I must say I am unnerved about the revisiting of the Martin Bryant case. It's a long time ago. But such is the horror of that day it has scarred us a nation," he said.

"It's a free country, thankfully. We all celebrate that. So, people will make films. That's OK in this country.

"But I hope when this is done … we will remember the victims and their families and the torment that they have endured for all these many years."

The film is set to premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival next year.

Originally published as Victims say no to Port Arthur film

A funeral procession entering Melbourne cemetery for the Mikac family.
A funeral procession entering Melbourne cemetery for the Mikac family.

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