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Production   /  Chris Kamen

Dark Water: Battle on the Franklin

The definitive story of the fight to save Tasmania’s wild Franklin River from being dammed in the '80s.


Impact areas



  • DIRECTOR Kasimir Burgess

  • PRODUCER Chris Kamen



A documentary about the seven-year campaign to save Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed Franklin River from being drowned by the construction of a huge hydroelectric dam in the early 1980s.

The story is framed by Oliver, an 8th generation Tasmanian, who is grieving over the early passing of his conservationist father Mike. After discovering Mike’s diary from his 18-day rafting mission to join the blockade, Oliver embarks a solo rafting pilgrimage to experience the life-changing river in the hope of understanding his heroic legacy. In the process, he discovers the extraordinary story of the campaign and gains valuable insights into how change-making movements actually succeed.

Support this project

0.80% funded
  • $150,000.00

  • $1,200.00

  • March 2020

  • 4

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Maria Rolls $100.00
Blake Laurent $1,000.00
Andrew Bowen $50.00
Anonymous $50.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The Franklin River campaign is touted as the greatest environmental battle in Australia’s history, and it is entrenched in our history in such a way that it feels like the outcome was inevitable.

However, when you start talking to people who took part in it, it's plain that it was never a clear victory. There were twists and turns, false wins, false losses, heartbreak and hope the whole way through. And there was also strategy, care for people, communication and resilience.

Today’s big environmental issues face the same problems but we don’t have to start from scratch each time, here we have a chance to capture the stories while there is still time. Many of the Franklin activists are dying and we need their stories and their experiences in this urgent time, to bring hope and to bring the learnings to the front lines of positive change today.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

In the face of mounting environmental catastrophe, it’s easy to throw your hands up and say there is nothing you can do.

But to see this film is not just going to give you abstract hope, it will give you strategy, theories of change and a taste for winning.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short term: people will come out feeling empowered to take action on an issue close to their heart, be armed with pragmatic hope, support or donate to an environmental cause. Any groups combating an environmental or social issue in the community where the screening occurs may recruit new supporters. Or people who have not yet been community organisers will be armed a few more ideas and courage.

Medium term: screenings at the frontlines (Tarkine, Ardani etc) will motivate and re-empower activists dealing with the cycle of progress and setback.

Long term: increased active participation in democracy, electoral enrolments.
We live in a country with a strong democratic tradition but where that tradition is being threatened. Governments are cracking down on our democratic right to protest. Even so taking to the streets by itself is only a tactic. The greater understanding that will develop from this film will be needed if we are to keep a vibrant democracy in this country.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

With our protagonist working inside the environmental movement at the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and has strong relationships with supporters and membership of that organisation as well as partner organisation such as the Bob Brown Foundation and The Wilderness Society. The Wilderness Society has been a huge help since inception providing access to archives and research assistance.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Lean into helping to solve environmental problems instead of being paralysed by despair.

Join the local group organising for change.

Donate to an ENGO.

Ask someone who you think should run for government, to run for election, ask them a few times. Consider it yourself. We need the people in power who are going to make the decision we want to have made.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The film will be toured and screened for community groups all over Australia and internationally. We will work with these groups to workshop how to make best use of the energy from the film and what call to action is appropriate for that group. This could be in the form of activism workshops, Q&As etc. We will be able to check in with community organisers down the track and get a sense of the greater impact and progress they are making and connect like issues together along the way.