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  • Modern Warfare: Today's Diggers


    Posted on: 30/06/2015

    These five films were commissioned by the Australian War Memorial as part of their tradition of documenting Australians' experience at war. Shot on location in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2011 and 2008, the films are made in a vivid and direct style.

    They record the surroundings, equipment and day-to-day activities of Australian Defence Force personnel on deployment in a remote and harsh environment, in an actual theatre of war. Interviews with the men and women on active service are the heart and soul of of these films, as the participants speak frankly about their experiences and challenges.

    Watch the films in our Australian Mediatheque, total duration 203 mins.

    Afghanistan: the Australian Experience, Tarin Kot 2011

    John Martinkus (director), 31 mins, 2011, Australian War Memorial

    In 2011, journalist John Martinkus was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to record the life and times of Australian Defence Force members in an active theatre of war - Afghanistan. This work takes you into the world of Australian soldiers at Al Minhad air base in the United Arab Emirates, and Tarin Kot in Uruzgan, Afghanistan.

    The film explores the day-to-day realities of those in the ADF deployment, including training Afghan National Army members and disposing of 'Improvised Explosive Devices', identified as the biggest single threat to Australian troops in Afghanistan.

    Martinkus' revealing one-to-one interviews with ADF personnel tell of the changes to the operational environment over the last ten years, and go on to detail some of the harder experiences facing Australian frontline soldiers.

    Australian Patrol Bases: Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan

    John Martinkus (director), 17 mins, 2011, Australian War Memorial

    In this, the second of three documentaries produced by Martinkus, he observes the arrival of new Australian troops to Patrol Base Samad, and outlines the difficult living conditions - including physical hardships and threat of Taliban attacks - under which Australian troops worked whilst mentoring Afghan National Army troops in this remote Afghanistan base during 2011.

    Curating from Afghanistan: Collecting in Action Program, February 2011

    Esa Makela (director), 44 mins, 2011, Australian War Memorial

    In 2011, the curator of Film and Sound at the Australian War Memorial travelled with the Australian Defence Force to Afghanistan. This video is a compilation of footage and interviews recorded during a three week deployment alongside scores of Australian men and women serving in a variety of roles across the Middle Eastern Area of Operations, in a range of locations on base and in the field.

    Their fascinating and inspiring stories provide a unique insight into the life and times of Australia's current serving military, from young privates on their first deployment to senior ranking officers, all with their own perspective on Afghanistan, on life in the military, and on their own lives.

    Kandahar Airfield: The Australian Rotary Wing Group Operations

    John Martinkus (director), 15 mins, 2011, Australian War Memorial

    The Rotary Wing Group are the Australians whose job it is to pilot and maintain rotary wing aircraft from their base area at the Kandahar Airfield. In a country where road travel for personnel and supplies is fraught by the danger of 'Improvised Explosive Devices' and ambush, the role aircrews play is essential.

    In this film, members of the Chinook air and maintenance crew describe the challenges of flight over Afghanistan, as well as the pattern of everyday routine. The insider perspective affords real insight into what is probably a little known but essential aspect of Australian Defence Forces, bringing a fresh look at the life of Australian rotary crews and of the important role they played in supporting Australia's presence in Afghanistan.

    No Dramas: Recordings from Iraq

    Robert Nugent (director) 2008, 17 mins, Australian War Memorial

    A documentary film made by Robert Nugent using footage taken in Iraq 2006 as the Australian War Memorial's Official Cinematographer. Shot in a style with no voice-over narration, Nugent's camera reveals the location and situations the men find themselves in as part of active duty.

    Interviews with soldiers, their point of view from armoured tanks, the gym in the palace of the defeated dictator and daily life away from action, all serve to provide insight for the viewer into the life of a soldier.

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