Australia, 1987 (MIFF 1987)

Director: Tom Zubrycki

In February 1985 Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen sacked 1002 electrical linesmen and rushed through Parliament some of the harshest anti-union legislation seen in Australia for over 50 years. Friends And Enemies is an impressionistic account of the nine-month struggle, observing some of the major protagonists on both sides. On the surface, the film focuses on strategy and tactics but the underlying themes refer to power and social class. The film constantly shifts between two dialectical poles. Vince Lester, the Queensland minister in charge of the dispute, takes it to the very heart of National Party territory as he explains the government's position to audiences at country fairs, barbecues and debutante balls. Meanwhile, back in the union office, a progressively embittered rank and file struggle to understand the root cause of their predicament (who their friends and enemies are) and how, if at all, they can influence the course of events. The film raises serious questions about the trade union movement's ability to run an effective campaign. This is especially disturbing when viewed in the context of further savage anti-union legislation recently passed by the Queensland Government making strikes virtually illegal in that state.

See also...


This new film from Tom Zubrycki (Kemira - Diary of a Strike, Friends and Enemies) was made for ABC and Channel Four television. Set in Broome the film is a study in the late '80s ambivalence over ques... More »


Easter, 1994 at an outer western Sydney housing estate. A fight breaks out between wo neighbouring families, one Lebanese, the other Anglo-Australian. Next day, 16-year-old Biillal Eter is crossing th... More »


Australia's foremost documentary portraitist, Tom Zubrycki, follows refugee Zacharia Machiek from Sydney to Sudan as he dedicates his life to building a school in the village he left behind. ... Zacha... More »


The Diplomat follows East Timor's freedom fighter and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta in the final tumultuous year of a passionate campaign to secure independence for the country. Allowed ex... More »

vietnam symphony

When Hanoi was under threat of massive US bombing in 1965, students and teachers from the Conservatorium of Music fled to the countryside. There they re-established their school by building an entire ... More »


Sydney documentanst and MFF regular, Tom Zubrycki (Bran Nue Dae, Friends and Enemies) continues on his unpredictable way with this intriguing, dramatic documentary portrait of an emigre family, shot i... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director