An incendiary, shocking investigation into one of Australia’s most notorious cults, The Family, and the scars its survivors still bear today.
Filmmaker: Rosie Jones
Length: 98 mins
Anne Hamilton-Byrne was beautiful, charismatic and delusional. She was also incredibly dangerous. Convinced she was a living god, Hamilton-Byrne headed an apocalyptic sect called The Family, which was prominent in Melbourne from the 1960s to the 1990s. With her husband Bill, she acquired numerous children – some through adoption scams, some born to cult members – and raised them as her own. Isolated from the outside world, the children were dressed in matching outfits, had identically dyed blonde hair, and were allegedly beaten, starved and injected with LSD. Taught that Hamilton-Byrne was both their mother and the messiah, the children were eventually rescued during a police raid in 1987, but their trauma had only just begun.
With survivors and cult members telling their stories alongside the Australian and international detectives who worked the case, this confronting feature documentary exposes not just what happened within the still-operating sect but also within the conservative Melbourne community that allowed The Family to flourish.
"A damning, absorbing portrait of one of the most insidious groups in Australian history … an engrossing study not just of a specific situation, but of the psychology behind it." - ScreenDaily
Rosie Jones is an award-winning documentary writer, director and editor. Her most recent film is the feature doc, The Triangle Wars about an epic struggle over development on an iconic Australian foreshore (Best Australian Documentary, Antenna Doc. Festival 2011, Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund, NZ World Cinema Showcase 2012, St Tropez Cinema Des Antipodes 2012). Previous documentaries include Westall ‘66: A Suburban UFO Mystery, an investigation of Australia’s biggest mass UFO sighting (BIFF, Fantastic Planet FF, Athens International Sci-Fi FF, Globians Doc Fest) Obsessed with Walking, an exploration of psychogeography with Booker-nominated writer Will Self, Holy Rollers, a wry look at Christian pilgrimage amid the tensions of Israel (MIFF and SBS-TV) and Visions of Yankalilla, about an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a church in South Australia. She has edited numerous documentaries commissioned by Australian and international broadcasters with recent credits including the feature documentary - James Cameron’s Deep Sea Challenge 3D, Queen of the Desert, Suicide and Me, My Brother Vinnie, Wedding Sari Showdown 1 & 2 and The Mascot.
Writer/ Director/ Co-Producer: Rosie Jones
Producers: Anna Grieve, Paul Larosa and Aimee Desimone
Editor: Jane Usher
Director of Photography: Jaems Grant Acs
Composer: Amanda Brown
Sound Design: Livia Ruzic and Keith Thomas
Executive Producer: Barbara Ghammashi
Sound: Marc Hoppe and Charlie Macarone
Melbourne International Film Festival 2016
Antenna Documentary Film Festival 2016