Monday, August 26, 2013

Lest we forget what?

The Anzac Centenary logo
With the centenary of the First World War looming, the Australian federal government has allocated over 100 million dollars for commemorative activity over four years. Like many historians, I share fears that commemoration will prioritise sentimentality rather than create spaces where Australians can engage with their military history in diverse and meaningful ways.

The event branding does not assuage these fears. The '100 Years of Anzac: The Spirit Lives 2015-2018' logo suggests a celebration of myth, rather than history.  In contrast to the New Zealand and British Centenary logos, which at least allude to the First World War, Australia seems firmly rooted in a mythic

First World War Centenary UK
Remembering WWI New Zealand
With this in mind, I was excited to hear that the ABC has commissioned historian and writer/director Dr Rachel Landers to produce a new documentary that interrogates this potent military mythology.  Lest We Forget What? aims to start a national conversation about the increasing prominence of the Anzac Legend in the Australian national imagination.

The documentary producers requested video submissions from contributors and I had a marvellous time last weekend writing and shooting a video over 24 hours. Video is a powerful medium and the creative process was really rewarding in itself. The performative aspect was very new to me but once I got over initial awkwardness it was a lot of fun!

You can view my submission (and blooper video below).

Lest We Forget What? from Jo Hawkins on Vimeo.

Q1. Why do you love Australian history? (00.23)

Q2. What do you think is problematic about the way Australians remember WWI? (02.53)

Q3. Find a volunteer (friend, family or foe) and get into an engaging debate about WWI. Attempt to change their point of view. (08.00) The Debate: Is the AFL Anzac Day Clash an appropriate form of commemoration?