KI bushfire doco wins film award in Toronto

A documentary produced to help healing on Kangaroo Island after the Black Summer bushfires has won an international award.

Sep 16, 2022, updated Sep 19, 2022
The film crew for "No Safe Place" from left to right, Gethin Creagh, David Foreman, Ruth de la Lande, Sabrina Davis.

The film crew for "No Safe Place" from left to right, Gethin Creagh, David Foreman, Ruth de la Lande, Sabrina Davis.

The film “No Safe Space” by KI cinematographer David Foreman was named “Best Documentary” in the 11th edition of the Toronto Indie Shorts Festival and was selected for the LA Sun Film Festival and the Munich Short Film Awards.

Titled in reference to the warning issued by the Kangaroo Island CFS on 3 January 2021 that there was “no safe space” on the island to flee from the fires, the short documentary is an edit of a longer film called “January 3rd”.

The original film was made with Sabrina Davis, who felt the strong need to talk to other islanders and collate everyone’s experiences of the tragic summer in a memorial film.

“After journaling my thoughts and the timeline of my family’s journey over the previous December and January, I spoke to other west end farmers about creating a movie as a record for the future,” Davis said.

“This was an event like no other ever experienced on the island, and documenting our recovery seemed important.”

Foreman, who runs Kangaroo Island filmmaking outfit En plein air Films, says they made the film in response to the needs of the islanders.

“Shortly after the bushfires, the west end farming community reached out to us as local filmmakers to record some of their stories,” Foreman said.

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“As islanders ourselves, we wanted to help during this traumatic time.”

Following initial meetings with the filmmakers, Davis went back to her community to collect information and stories about living through the island’s most tragic fire day on January 3rd, 2020.

With a production support grant through Wellbeing SA, the team of four locals then interviewed fire-affected farmers, and Foreman immediately understood the “storytelling was therapeutic for these survivors”.

The original, hour-long film was premiered at the Humans of Kangaroo Island Film and Literature Festival in Parndana in October 2021. It was not picked up by any other festivals, so Foreman decided to shorten it to a 40-minute version so it could enter short film festivals around the world. The film crew then renamed the edit for better global understanding.

“‘No Safe Space’ is a film documenting the island’s resilience and recovery,” Foreman said.

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