Tom Zubrycki is hosting a special screening of his famous political documentary Kemira: Diary Of A Strike, which documents the trials of the 300 Wollongong steel workers who lost their jobs in the closing of the Port Kembla Steelworks in 1982.
In September 1982, at the height of an economic recession, the BHP steelworks announced its intention to close down some of its coal mines in the Wollongong area just south of Sydney. The worst affected was Kemira colliery where 300 workers were to lose their jobs. 20 days before the closure of the pit a group of 31 miners occupied the pit and established themselves 5 kilometers underground. The occupation caught the imagination of the whole country.
The miners received the backing of other unions, and the people of town of Wollongong swung-in behind them. The wives and supporters of the miners took over one of the company buildings and organised a kitchen, while fellow miners and supporters set up an embassy at the pit-top and kept vigil. A general local strike was culminated in a train journey to Canberra,where on arrival, several thousand miners and steelworkers stormed Parliament House bringing the issue to the attention of the whole nation.
The film captures these dramatic events and then proceeds to follow the fortunes of some of the strikers and their families. The film also reveals the wider historical, economic and political context. Made in 1982 Kemira: Diary Of A Strike became the first Australian film which documented the organisation of a strike and how it unfolded over time from an inside perspective. It premiered at the Sydney Film Festival, played a season at the Opera House, and went on to win several awards in Australia and overseas.
Kemira: Diary Of A Strike was distributed though the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op. The Co-op’s formation converged with a ground swell of social change in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and became a forum and a vehicle for voices denied expression in mainstream media. Many of the people working at Redback Graffix also had similar progressive political ideals, so there was an easy marriage between the two. Many films that the Co-op distributed had posters designed by Redback Graffix, including Kemira: Diary Of A Strike.
The filmmaker, Tom Zubrycki will give a post screening talk.
After the film a series of print making workshop will be run for adults.