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Development   /  Tony Bellino

Waltzing Mephisto

Can a WWI Battalion's war trophy the German tank Mephisto - 100 years on - also be an invitation for peace?

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Impact areas

HUMAN RIGHTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

YOUTH & EDUCATION

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Tony Bonner AM

  • PRODUCER Tony Bellino

Synopsis

DURATION: 75 MINUTES

APRIL 24th 1918 – Utilising 15 A7Vs, the Germans capture the village of Villers-Bretonneux. But amidst the battle one A7V 506 Mephisto is trapped in a shell crater & abandoned. Discovered 3 months later still behind enemy lines, it becomes the obsession of the AIF’s 26th Battalion Commanding Officer who meticulously plans to trophy the disabled tank. Yet although their heist is successful, Allies also have big eyes for his unique prize. Waltzing Mephisto, the documentary, follows the evolution of Germany’s A7V ‘Sturmpanzawagon’ tank program from conception and design by Army Engineer Joseph Vollmer, its deployments during the 1918 German Spring Offensive plus Mephisto & crew’s ill-fated battle at Villers-Bretonneux. It also traces Queensland’s 26th Battalion from enlistment, deployments in Gallipoli & on the Western Front, their salvage mission of Mephisto & its eventful journey back home to Queensland, Australia, where it still is today, the sole surviving German WW1 tank in the world

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

In Australia during WWI, an uncivil war broke out between the Queensland Premier and the Prime Minister over changing the constitution to include involuntary military conscription. It was twice voted down once in 1916, and again in 1917. In 1918 this played out in Europe over the ownership of a war trophy captured by Queenslanders, but later commandeered and sent to NSW by the Prime Minister but it never arrived! It would not be until the 1960's that conscription would be introduced and Aussie boys as young as 19 were sent to Vietnam hence the song "I Was Only 19." Waltzing Mephisto not only raises these issues in context, but also wishes the audience to question sending our young men in woman to war here and now in the 21st century.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

During my many years working on this project I have come across many returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, suffering with PTSD via contact with Mates4Mates. While the subject matter - WWI Australian soldiers returning with a unique war relic - is compelling and a great reflection of Aussie spirit, it was done so at a great cost in lives and mental health. We desire to give the audience an opportunity to consider the social impacts & costs of going to war in the 21st century & beyond!

Outcomes

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

Audience awareness of:
1) The extraordinary courage of our WWI service men and women:
2) Australian Military history:
3) Courage under fire and Brothers in Arms themes:
4) Consideration of local war memorials and parks:
5) The effects of PTSD on all past & present day service men and women:
6) The importance of community gatherings and encouragement to social intercourse about all of the above issues and topics:
7) Raise funds for charity e.g. Soldier On, Mates4Mates, Farmers drought relief fund & others: 8) Film to be included into State & National students educational ANZAC learning programs:
9) Generate visits to Queensland Museum - home of Mephisto.
10) VOD downloads from around the world of this unique Australian story.

Stakeholders

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

Our project advocate has just been appointed to the board of the Australian War memorial. Apart from his political career he has raised over $5 million for medical research, indigenous health scholarships and the Soldier On charity. We expect Tony's influence to further open the doors to the RSL screenings across Australia, as well as streamline funds from ticket sales to this great, returning soldiers charity.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

Educate friends and relatives on the history of Mephisto:
Recommend others to watch the film:
Get involved in raising awareness and funds for those suffering PTSD:
Visit Queensland Museum's ANZAC Gallery for an up close and personal inspection of Mephito:
Get involved with youth programs for those suffering from PTSD, depression and substance abuse.
Donate to our charity partners.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The ultimate indicator would be the closing down of Soldier On and Mates4Mates because we're not sending any further service men and woman overseas to fight wars! As a writer / producer it would be great to hear other peoples reactions to the historical facts raised in Waltzing Mephisto e.g. post screening or at a casual gathering. Positive Responses from Queensland Museum regarding extra book sales and museum visits. Conformation that Waltzing Mephisto has been accepted into the Queensland state school educational curriculum. 500,000-1M dollars raised for our charity partners.

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