Work In Progress: The President vs. David Hicks – 13 November 2003

Title: Work In Progress: The President vs. David Hicks
Location: AFC Theatre – 150 William St, East Sydney
Thursday 13 November 2003

The Australian Documentary Forum and ASDA
in association with AFTRS, AFC, UTS and Macquarie University

Work In Progress:
The President Vs David Hicks


Meet the filmmakers
Curtis Levy & Bentley Dean


AFC Theatre – 150 William St, East Sydney


Thursday 13 Nov 2003 – 7pm


Gold Coin Donation

by Nov 10:
Seats reserved till 6.45pm only.
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2005-11-13


What does it mean to set out on a filmmaking journey about a subject to whom you will probably never get access – and yet, who isn’t dead? Someone who is incarcerated in the most securely guarded illegal institution in the world?

About three months after Australian David Hicks was arrested in Afghanistan as a Taliban fighter, Curtis Levy embarked on such a journey. As he watched the relentless demonization of Hicks in the Australian papers, his curiosity about this man was piqued. How did this former young chicken processor become so drawn to Islamic fundamentalism that he felt compelled to take up arms?

Working with a Sony PD150 MiniDV and with the full co-operation of David Hicks’ father and his Australian lawyer, Curtis and co-director, Bentley Dean, set out on an inquiry that has taken them to five countries. They follow the journey of a young adventurer, who transforms himself from a stockman to a freedom fighter for Islam. His fervent belief in Islam took him into the murky world of fundamentalism.

Levy and Dean will talk about their attempts to understand and film this world. Their journey also took them to the USA and Guantanamo Bay, where they tried to fathom a Western world which has thrown away the traditional cornerstone of democracy, habeas corpus, and created a penal settlement seemingly at odds with the traditional values of American society.

At this session of OZDOX, Curtis and Bentley will screen extracts from their work-in-progress and discuss some of the conceptual, technical and logistical challenges they have faced in creating this documentary. How do you tell the story of one individual’s involvement in such a momentous clash of civilisations?


Curtis Levy, of Olsen Levy Productions, is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and experienced documentary filmmakers. Curtis has been producing and directing award winning works for many years including the ground-breaking SONS OF NAMATJIRA, about a group of Aboriginal artists living outside Alice Springs and their relationship with the outside world;
BREAKOUT, about the mass suicidal breakout of Japanese prisoners-of-war from their prison camp in Cowra, awarded Best Television Documentary: Chicago International Film Festival;
the three part series RIDING THE TIGER, nominated Best Documentary AFI;
Winner ATOM Award best Television Series;
HEPHZIBAH , AFI Award Best Documentary, IDA Amsterdam Best Video Documentary, Australian Film Critics Circle Award Best Documentary;
HIGH NOON IN JAKARTA, Finalist: Hollywood and Banff Film Festivals, Finalist: ATOM Awards.

Curtis is currently producing and directing THE PRESIDENT VERSUS DAVID HICKS, a film about the Australian Taliban fighter incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

In 1997 Bentley Dean interrupted his studies at the Victorian College of the Arts to participate in ABC TV’s inaugural “Race Around the World” television series. His contributions included stories on the Karen guerilla fighters in Burma, nomads in Mongolia and the mass nude photographer Spencer Tunick in the USA. Since then he has worked on an eclectic range of projects from co-directing video clips for Midnight Oil to camera work on stories about the Chechen conflict, ABC Arts Show, Recovery and Foreign Correspondent. In 2001 he joined SBS TV’s Dateline filming and directing with a focus on Latin America. His Dateline work include accounts of the Zapatista guerrillas in Mexico, the war crimes of the President of the Guatemalan Congress, an intimate biography of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and a two part special on Venezuela’s 48 hour coup, ANATOMY OF A COUP, which received a commendation for International Journalism in the 2003 Walkley Awards.