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Outreach   /  Heidi Douglas

Defendant 5

When a young filmmaker documents the destruction of Tasmania’s ancient forests she is swept up in a multi-million dollar


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Heidi Lee Douglas

  • PRODUCER Ruth Cross



Young filmmaker Heidi Lee Douglas goes to Tasmania to make a documentary about the destruction of the island’s ancient forests. As anti-logging protests escalate, logging giant Gunns Ltd reacts to public pressure by suing Heidi and 19 others for $6.4 million for allegedly conspiring to destroy the company’s business. When Heidi discovers Gunns wants to use her footage as evidence to support its claims, she faces a crisis of conscience. Heidi’s response is to turn the camera on herself to document her personal struggle as she goes into battle against a corporation out of control.

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0% funded
  • $5,000.00

  • $0.00

  • January 2013

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The film expores corporate power and responsibility as well as principles of freedom of speech and association. The film addresses important issues including: - The dangers of a corporation acting without a social licence - The use of the courts by corporations that can effectively silence dissent - The lack of constituted freedom of speech and right to protest in Australia


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

WHAT WE HOPE TO ACHIEVE: 1. Tell a morality tale of global importance about the consequences of unchecked corporate power, exploring both the effect on the individuals and the effect on the corporation itself. 2. Highlight the historical importance of an attempt by corporate Australia to stifle the right to free speech and protest. 3. Generate debate around a federal Act for Public Participation.


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

IMPACT WILL BE MEASURED BY: 1. The number of people exposed to the film through broadcast - both Australia and international (ABC and Al Jazeera combined reach over 280 million homes worldwide) 2. Inclusion of the film in international film festivals and subsequent speaker events during film festivals 3. The use of the film in schools and tertiary institutions through both the ATOM guide and the tertiary education kit we have developed for environmental litigation. 4. Exhibition of the film by community groups at events throughout Australia. 5. Engagement through social media and our mailing list 6. Involvement of experts and businesses in the outreach campaign 7. Media coverage of the film and the issues it highlights 8. Social and political engagement in the issues raised by the film 9 Speaking engagements with corporations to share the personal story and wide ramifications of Gunns LTD not respecting the need for a triple bottom line - people, profits and the environment.


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

Ways to Watch Defendant 5

In Australia and New Zealand you can now watch Defendant 5 on DocPlay. Go to

Defendant 5 is available for download to rent or buy for educational purposes worldwide via Green Planet Films. Go to

​An ATOM Study Guide is available here:​

Defendant 5 is distributed throughout China by by GZDOC Doc Shop

Defendant 5 has been selected for the 'Green Cinema Tour' to screen in more than 100 school elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul, South Korea

​An ATOM Study Guide is available here:​

and was available on iView until January 9th 2015
For more information go to our website

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

Heidi Douglas is a powerful storyteller. She has captured the essence of the need for balanced and reasoned decision-making about ever-shrinking natural resources. Such decisions must effectively reflect the views of all stakeholders including the public and the environment. The documentary highlights the courage of a few in the community, who are prepared to stand up for the public interest even if it means great personal costs. The value of filmmaking to contribute to education and tolerance about difficult and enduring issues is underscored powerfully indeed.
Judith Preston
Solicitor (NSW, NT) and Environmental Law Academic (Macquarie University)

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Heidi has done justice to a difficult conversation that the community needs to have.
Greg Le Strange
Ex Gunns CEO and Company Board Member

This is an important story that engages on many levels. Gunns governance failed a number of basic governance tests and yet while ever the share price went up, greed powered the market. Even internal corporate governance standards for investment were put aside with disastrous consequences for ordinary investors and an innocent bystander. Congratulations on being so gutsy in telling your story.
Rob Purves AM
Businessman and Environmental Philanthropist

Defendant 5 is a powerful and personal account of events which should concern us all.
Dr Tania Penovic, Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law