Australia Burns… Silence of the Land – Film Review

There is an old saying that says “if you want the truth go to the source.” That is something that filmmaker Shane McLachlan obviously took to heart when he started to put together the brand-new documentary Australia Burns… Silence Of The Land.

I often find documentaries about bushfires fascinating. The fires in Australia have affected my family quite severely over the years. From Ash Wednesday to Black Saturday, my family has often found themselves right smack bang in the middle of them. The thing I often find when I watch documentaries about these events though, is that often they aren’t documentaries but glorified news reports. Normally they come from footage captured from news crews while journalists recount what covering the event was like for them.

Australia Burns… Silence Of The Land is a very different kind of documentary. Yes, it chronicles what happened with the devastating bushfires in Australia during its 2020 fire season, but instead of using stock or news footage, most of the footage here comes from actual fire crews who were there on the front-line.

Likewise, the stories told come from interviews that McLachlan recorded with firefighters and volunteers that were actually there and fighting the fire. For me, that added an element of validity to the film that so many bushfire documentaries lack.

What I loved about the film is that it also goes a lot further than that. It goes inside the story that surfaced at the time about Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison refusing to talk to retired fire chiefs about the disastrous fire conditions that they could see in NSW. The film interviews one of the retired fire officers himself about what actually happened – and let’s just say that he doesn’t hold back.

I also found fascinating McLachlan’s various interviews with wildlife rescuers that talked about the catastrophic effects the fires have had on wildlife in the fire areas, while the film shows how climate change has changed Australia’s bushfire seasons in a terrible way. The film explains how these fires are not caused by climate change but are ‘enhanced’ by climate change… that is a clear message that I feel is incredibly important to get out there into the public.

Australia Burns also finds a way to tell Australians how they can help slow down climate change, but at no point does it ever feel like it is preaching or blaming the audience that it is watching it. It is for that reason I feel this documentary is a must see for not only those impacted by the 2020 bushfires, but for every Australian who cares about what happens to our future.

Australian Burns… Silence Of The Land is a sensational documentary that not only serves valuable insight to what happened to those on the fire-front during Australia’s worst ever fire season, but it also provides answers to how we can prevent it from ever happening again. My advice with this film is – DON’T MISS IT!

Australian Burns… Silence Of The Land is part of the 2021 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival which is running until the 31st of July.
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