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documentaries: synopsis: theatrette

The Choice (2006) Riot or Revolution (2005) Why Men Pay For It (2003) Life is Too Serious (2001)
Love's Tragedies (1999) Big Hair Woman (1997) Deadly Hurt (1994)
The Great Australian Dreaming (1992) Big People Small People (1991) Something You Call Unique (1989)  

We're All Independent Now

Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister of Australia, 1972-75

"WE'RE ALL INDEPENDENT NOW" is a one hour documentary about marriage, divorce and relationships. It has been made to mark 20 years of the Family Law Act, 1975, one of the Whitlam government's landmark reforms.

The film examines some of the social, economic and personal impacts of the legislation. A diverse range of views is expressed, from Whitlam, himself, to the present Chief Justice of the Family Court, Alistair Nicholson. There are conservative voices, such as Liberal MP, Kevin Andrews and a nun who runs a school-based group for students whose parents have divorced. We also hear from colourful social commentators like feminist author Dale Spender and marriage counsellor, David White. The vast terrain of the issue is further explored by looking at the academic debate surrounding the issue of the impact of divorce on children. And then we have the voice of the "real people" running throughout as we hear from angry, non-custodial fathers and young people from divorcing families.

"WE'RE ALL INDEPENDENT NOW" also reminds us of the historical context of these dramatic legislative and social changes by "reconstructing" some of the original parliamentary debates from 1973-5, when the legislation was being debated. Actress Robyn Gibbes reads extracts directly from Hansard. We hear the amusing, cutting, astute and often poignant words spoken by the likes of Paul Keating, Gough Whitlam, Lionel Murphy, William Mc.Mahon, John Howard and others.

"WE'RE ALL INDEPENDENT NOW" opens with a young 20-something woman reflecting on the question of whether people any more want to have lasting relationships. After a long pause she says "... they WANT them, but they don't NEED them, because we're all independent now." The title for the film is found. These sentiments capture the spirit of the times. The words give ironic expression to some of the core themes that are explored in the film.


Alan Bennett