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Development   /  James Nightingale

Hostages To Fortune

Executions, torture and no way out. This is the devastating Australian story you've never heard of.


Impact areas



  • DIRECTOR James Nightingale

  • PRODUCER James Nightingale



Pearl Harbour - ?? - Kokoda
Just six weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbour and before any thought of the infamous Kokoda campaign was given, Australia was to be delivered its greatest disaster of the second world war.
One you've never heard of!
Execution style massacres and the nation’s worst maritime disaster to date, all borne out of the same fate which fell beyond the hold of those who were trapped to suffer in the wake of its gravity.
Despite ample intelligence of an imminent Imperial Forces attack, Allied governments abandoned the pivotal island of New Britain in January 1942 leaving its civilians and the 1400 Australian troops sent to defend it, in a brutal fight for survival.
Only after almost 50 years after the war did details of the tragedy begin to emerge into public attention with some family members never knowing what happened to their loved ones.
But the world had moved on.
With the final survivors now succumbing to age, time is closing in fast to turn that around.

Support this project

8.00% funded
  • $15,000.00

  • $1,200.00

  • 31st January 2022

  • 2

This campaign has been invalid or not started yet.


Peter Elliott $1,000.00
Rochelle Davies $200.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

A pivotal Australian story which has been forgotten by past and present generations.
160 men executed in one afternoon, innocent civilian murders and a ship torpedoed taking down more Australian lives in one moment than in ten years fighting in Vietnam. Yet most Australians are clueless.
How can we have a brighter future without properly acknowledging our past?
Only a small few of survivors remain from an already forgotten disaster and will soon succumb to their age. We cannot let them die in vain. We cannot forget them again.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

This film will be used to provide a descriptive account of the emotional and physical trauma inflicted on the lives of the innocent and under resourced victims who were forced by Allied governments to ensure the full wrath of the Imperial Armed forces at the height of their power.
Complete abandonment by those who were meant to be protecting them, the stories of the survivors and deceased alike were numbed from public light all in the arrogance to save face.


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

We hope to permanently establish this story into educational curriculums around the country as a means of bringing it to the national attention it deserves.
By providing and establishing education around the issue the men and women of the story will be finally given the opportunity of recognition after decades of silence.

Through stronger public attention we hope to push for greater media coverage around significant anniversaries and dates.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Our film will achieve success through the active participation of our audience.
With a strong goal to bring this story to national attention and establish it into schools and universities for years to come, our strength and hope lies firmly with the power of the people.
If we can create conversations around the issue and develop a strong word-of-mouth campaign we will be well on our way to achieving our overall goals.
By developing an online presence and bringing our audience along for the ride we will look to continually build audience numbers which will naturally spread the word via online networks.


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

We have strong partnerships with various organisations such as Kokoda Historical trekking company as well as the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia among others.
These organisations have been pivotal in allowing access to information and sites around Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Kokoda Historical have already been amazing enough to sponsor a trek through parts of New Britain in Papua New Guinea allowing us to film pivotal military positions.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

Overall we hope to produce conversations between citizens which match those of other Australian military campaigns throughout history.
This is a huge Australian story that has been almost forgotten with its final remaining survivors quickly succumbing to age.
Ultimately we hope to use the power of people to incite media organisations to cover pivotal anniversaries and dates and educational institutions to carry on that effort in educating younger generations about the impact of war.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

We will be able to see success indicators as more and more coverage of this story emerges.
As a nation of travellers particularly to sites of Australian conflicts one specific indicator will be the number of Australians looking to travel to New Britain in Papua New Guinea to pay respects as well as learn more about a history that has been stemmed from their attention.