Inmate Willie Bingham is the first man selected to undergo a gruesome new punishment introduced under the State’s revised stance on capital crime.
Interview with Director Matt Richards
Why did you make this film?
I was feeling more and more unsettled by the hardline conservatism presented by the Australian Government under Tony Abbott.
Why is the film called The Disappearance of Willie Bingham?
The film is not just the disappearance of Willie Bingham, who is being amputated limb by limb, but about the way we ‘disappear’ people within the prison system. It also portrays a society functioning under a government that has had common traits like empathy and compassion ‘disappeared’.
You adapted this film from a short story. Can you discuss this process?
The original short story was more of a monologue in which the narrator told his tale. I worked with the original writer on constructing a new narrative that would be as visual as possible. We worked back and forth over a year to get it to the final script.
What type of feedback have you received so far about the film?
The feedback has been pretty positive for such a bleak and challenging film. Young kids LOVE it and it certainly sparks conversation afterwards.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
In so much as I’ve had people tell me before they watch the film that they believe it would be a good idea to enact some form of similar punishment in real life. Afterwards, however, they are not so sure.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
Just to generate more interest. I really love this short and hope to get it is seen by many different audiences. I think it would play perfectly as the challenging film in any straight drama festival program.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message and audience?
I’m definitely looking for festival directors to get involved and watch it as well as distributors and sales agents. I think it will have a long life that leaves a lasting impression.
What type of impact would you like this film to have in Australia and internationally?
I think people in Australia would be very surprised by the film, especially its tone which is a little demented but morbidly entertaining. Internationally I hope that people see it as an intelligent response to the hard right and a call for compassion. I hope it illustrates that life is complex and there is no such thing as simply right or wrong.
Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about this issue and film?
If we choose to punish people, at what point do we become as morally and spiritually corrupt as the criminal?
Interview: April 2016
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The Disappearance of Willie Bingham
Director: Matt Richards
Producer: Brendan Guerin
Looking for buyer, distributor, sales agent, media interest
Funders: Screen Australia
Made in association with: Guerin Group Films PtyLtd & Four Anchor Island