Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett reported the Vietnam War from the perspective of the North Vietnamese. For this he was reviled as a traitor and a communist in the Australian media. He had been the first journalist into Hiroshima after the atom bomb, and he covered wars in Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea.
Filmmaker David Bradbury interviews Burchett in his later years and intercuts it with archival footage and still photographs. Burchett is seen in newsreel coverage and in footage taken by the North Vietnamese. Archival footage of the Vietnam war and newsreel footage of Hiroshima after the atom bomb enrich the documentary.
“Wilfred Burchett was vilified. In fact, he was just about demonised by Australian conservatives for what they saw as his biased coverage of what he saw as the other side of world events like the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Well, Australian Academy Award nominated film-maker David Bradbury made a documentary about the notorious Burchett – arguably this country’s most controversial journalist – that he called ‘Public Enemy Number One’.
DAVID BRADBURY: He was the first Western correspondent into Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped – it was about two weeks afterwards – and there was still vapour from the nuclear fallout coming out of the ground.
DAVID BRADBURY: It was certainly not what you’d call ‘objective journalism’ in today’s light. And that’s why I love Burchett and respect him greatly, because he knew that this was the beginning of a new era of warfare.
DAVID BRADBURY: It coloured his judgment about the United States. If they’d do that to a civilian population, what else were they capable of doing? And I think he had that old Australian notion of not liking bullies. And I think that set him on a collision course with the United States.
DAVID BRADBURY: I think it’s important for all democracies, genuine democracies, to get another point of view, to know what it’s like on the other side.
DAVID BRADBURY: Burchett paid the price in terms of being seen as a traitor in Australia, and paid the price in not being able to come back to Australia for all those years.
DAVID BRADBURY: I had a problem with Burchett’s blind-eyed view of what happened in the Soviet Union, what happened in Bulgaria, what was happening in the re-education camps of southern Vietnam after the communists took over. I think Burchett was trapped, like all journalists, by his sources. And I didn’t respect him in that regard, of being blind-eyed to quite outrageous human rights violations on the part of the Soviet Union and their satellite Eastern Bloc countries.
DAVID BRADBURY: I think Burchett also hid behind this pseudo notion of objectivity. And at times, he sold his soul to the devil in terms of objectivity, as all journalists do, from the right or the left perspective.
DAVID BRADBURY: He was such a great Australian. He loved ordinary people. He was a humanitarian. He really believed that his journalism should be used in the advancement of humanity.
GEORGE NEGUS: I actually interviewed old love-him-or-hate-him Wilfred a few times myself – once here in Australia when he flew in under the wire, and the other, predictably for him, in Cuba. I can tell you that despite his demon-like reputation, he didn’t have horns. By the way, the question he should’ve been asked was not, “Are you a member of the Communist Party?” but rather, “Are you a communist?” A much harder question to answer. In fact, he called himself an international socialist.”
969MB | 59m 31s | 765×574 | mkv