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Development   /  Lisa Albert

Joy: The Documentary

The past is just a story we tell ourselves

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Impact areas

HEALTH & WELLBEING

HUMAN RIGHTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

WOMEN & GIRLS

YOUTH & EDUCATION

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Vincent Lamberti

  • PRODUCER Lisa Albert

Synopsis

DURATION: 90 MINUTES

A story of family homicide and its aftermath across three decades told from the point of view of a child who grew up in the care of the father who killed her mother. Today, Kathryn Joy is a young woman with an extraordinary story to tell. And tell her story she must as she faces an existential crisis on the eve of surpassing her mother’s age.

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Though positive change is happening, the global tragedy of family homicide is not abating. In Australia, we have one of the highest rates amongst all developed nations. On average, one woman a week in Australia is murdered by her former or current partner. More than two- thirds (68%) of mothers who have had children in their care when they experienced violence from their previous partner said their children had seen or heard the violence. Intimate partner violence is also the biggest health risk for women aged 25-44. Economically speaking, the combined health, administrative and social welfare costs of violence against women have been estimated to be $21.7 billion a year.
When a parent is killed by their partner, their children experience multiple losses as the other is detained, on the run or has died by suicide. Long-term consequences for children include mental health issues, poor educational outcomes and high risk of further victimization and violence perpetration.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

We hope to draw attention to the devastating impacts of family homicide on children over the course of their lives. The fact that the primary victim is dead, and the secondary victims are often children, coupled with a lack of understanding within mainstream media means that the narrative around family homicide obsesses about the perpetrators rather than the victims’ and survivors’ stories. Kathryn’s remarkable story will shift the narrative to one that humanises and privileges the victims.

Outcomes

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

Ultimately we hope that our film contributes to positive change in societal attitudes toward family homicide.
Kathryn has a personal desire is to set up a support network for children of family homicide and this film will be the springboard for her to achieve this goal.
Dr. Eva Alisic is passionate and determined to conduct further research to improve support to children bereaved by domestic homicide.
The story Joy tells can ensure that an alternative narrative exists, and children in cases of family homicide feel their experiences are valid despite their fragmented memory and that women like Carolyn who die from their intimate partners weekly are remembered as women and mothers first and victims second.

Stakeholders

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

Dr Eva Alisic (Associate Professor, University of Melbourne) is a major partner who believes this film can have real value as a case study, and as an asset to securing funding for badly needed research into the trauma experienced by children as a result of family violence in Australia.

Understanding the impact family violence has on children is one of the main motivators in men changing their behavior. We are working with professionals from the family violence sector to better inform us on how the film can be utilised within men's behavioral programs as well as a training tool for the family violence workers. We hope this will extend to courts, police and mental health workers.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

We want to fuel a groundswell of empathy, both via festival cinemas and grassroots community screenings, that will translate into support for a nationwide support network for children of family homicide. Kathryn’s story is a powerful indictment of the law’s failure to protect children, and so we hope this film will be an asset in the fight to change laws that govern perpetrators’ access to their children.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

More broadly, this film will be a powerful reminder of how little has changed in the law’s male bias; the judge’s remarks and sentencing in the Borce Ristevski of 2019 bearing a confronting similarity to those in the case of Kathryn’s father in 1985. Our law should reflect societal values, but in the case of family homicide, it doesn’t. We will measure our film’s legal impact when it is quoted and utilised by those campaigning for changes so that it prioritises the welfare of children over the rights of perpetrators, and so that it properly values the sanctity of women’s lives.

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