Black Hole: coal, corruption and community resistance

10 September 2015

A new film reveals unseen footage of coal, corruption and community resistance of one of Australia’s most controversial mining projects – Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Coal Mine in the Leard State Forest.


Mining projects already in progress near Maules Creek. © Abram Powell/Greenpeace

Mining projects near Maules Creek. © Abram Powell/Greenpeace

Before February 2014, I didn’t even know about the Leard State Forest. That was until a friend invited me to the Leard Forest Blockade after being transformed by the social movement campaign against coal that was happening. I travelled up to Maules Creek as a filmmaker with the intention to make a short film. Instantly on arrival I was completely intrigued by the diversity of people from all walks of life that had come together to fight for a common cause. It was evident to me, that what was occurring was a piece of Australian history that needed to be captured.

This was the beginning of what would become Black Hole, a feature documentary that is now being considered as one of the most significant environmental films that has been made in the last 34 years in Australia. My intention as a filmmaker was always to make a cinematic and humanistic film and it was impossible not to. After witnessing the selfless acts of ordinary citizens putting their bodies on the line in the fight for the Leard State Forest and for future generations.

Community activists protecting Leard State Forest on 16/12/2013. ©

Community activists protecting Leard State Forest on 16/12/2013. ©

During the making of the film, the story of Maules Creek unfolded through the colourful characters that I encountered and interviewed including, local farmers, traditional custodians, politicians, ecologists, religious leaders and a remarkable mix of demographic.

After 9 months of intense filming, there were so many extraordinary moments, but none more than during “Act Up 3”. This was the moment when 70 united people walked on to Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Mine to blockade and plaster SAVE THE LEARD across mining equipment. This action changed everything. The surreal moment when at dawn the sun rose over the forest onto the baren landscape of the mine site, lighting up four generations of protectors including Bill Ryan, a 93 year old WWII veteran. This put Whitehaven coal and the State and Federal Government on notice.

Maules Creek mine blockade

© Leard State Forest / flickr / CC BY 2.0

After 16 months of blood, sweat and tears, the Leard State Forest Campaign has been immortalized in the Black Hole documentary, which is screening nationally.

This was far more than just a campaign to stop a coalmine; this was ground zero for empowerment of citizens who have become disenchanted with a system that is portrayed as a democracy.

If you went to the Leard Blockade it was impossible for it not to have been a life changing experience.

João Dujon Pereira – Director/Producer

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