Born Thomas Schwaetzer in 1928 into a secular middle class Jewish family in Vienna, Max Watts was a citizen of the world.
Forced to flee Vienna to London in 1938 after the Nazi Anchluss of Austria, Tomi had to fend for himself from the age of ten. Burying deeply his childhood feelings of abandonment and despair, he learned how to defend himself with incredible tenacity.
This fueled his political commitment to see that these dark forces would not prevail.
Living in England then the US, Israel, France and Germany he engaged in the key political struggles of the 20th century, in particular supporting GI resistance to the Vietnam war where he came in contact with Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Stokely Carmichael.
In Australia, Max reported on union struggles, Bougainville and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There was not a mean bone in his body. He was a bundle of contradictions: selfless/self-absorbed; dominant/tolerant; dogmatic/sceptical.
A larger than life character.
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Refugees have been scape-goated and demonised around the world in the most graphic and brutal ways for decades. Yet their contributions to the societies they eventually re-settle in are seldom celebrated. Max Watts was a refugee from Nazism as a child; an experience which empowered him to become both an activist and a largely self taught investigative journalist who reported on many of the key political struggles of the 20th century: WWII, Algeria, Vietnam, Cuba (in particular supporting GI resistance to the war), union struggles, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, the US wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, Thailand, Australia. In his later years he was the Pacific representative of Reporter Without Borders. His work reporting on the rights of people in struggle is both inspiring and an engrossing story of the crucial role of the fiercely independent journalist.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
'Maxism according to...' seeks to promote a better understanding of the role of an individual in the pursuit of justice.
The life of active engagement of Max Watts, a Viennese-born Jew, covers the gamut of key human rights and political struggles of the 20th Century.
Fuelled by his experience as a refugee child, he turned the persecution he experienced into a positive force for good, working for a world based on the equality of all human beings and against hatred, oppression and discrimination.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
The outcomes of viewing a documentary which tackles both the personal and the political – as seen through the lived experience of one individual and those around him at different stages of his life – are centred around a change or shift in attitude towards refugees, and an understanding and awareness of the Power of One to initiate change and make an impact. If conveyed powerfully in a film, it can have strong impacts on audiences who might otherwise feel overwhelmed with the question of how the individual can make a difference in the face of a complex and rapidly changing world.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
We plan to submit the film in a number of film festivals around the world such as the Human Rights Film Network, including in Europe and the US, Canada, NZ and South East Asia and the Human Rights Arts and Film festival here in Australia. Some of the international festivals would include the Movies That Matter Festival, Nuremberg International H-R FF, One World – International H-R Documentary FF, Festival International du Film des Droits Humains de Paris, Vermont International H-R FF.
The screenings of this film can be seen at events, conferences and educational distribution to stimulate discussion around the right to protest, the role of individuals in protest and the impact of the refugee experience.
Educational distribution including dvd sales, live streaming and downloads in Australia/NZ is also a high priority.
We will commission a Study Guide to be prepared by ATOM so that the film is able to be fully ustilised in the tertiary or university setting.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
We are developing relationships with organisations as the project evolves. It is at a very early stage now and this will become more apparent during the Development period.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
1. Audiences could be motivated to support the rights of the world's journalists who increasingly face a more dangerous working environment
2. Audiences could be motivated to better comprehend the challenges of life as a refugee, which could inspire them to join a refugee support group etc
3. Audiences, through the recognition of the nuances and struggles of the refugee/or the ground breaking journalist could be motivated to support the relevant campaigns for refugee and journalists rights. We will develop these during the post production phase of the film.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
The indicators of the success of the film will relate to the broadness of its distribution and the responses of audiences following screenings. Audiences will be encouraged to comment following screenings via a Facebook page which will be created for the film at a later stage. Also the filmmakers will invite audience members to make recorded comments for use on the FB page, to provoke interest and encourage others to view the film and the issues it presents. We anticipate that responses might include an increased understanding of the plight of refugees, especially children and an apppreciation and willingness ot support and defend the rights of journalists who are reporting on controversial issues in an increasingly dangerous media environment.