Release date8 April 1971 (1971-04-08) Based onnovel by Elizabeth and Don Campbell WriterDon Campbell (story), Elizabeth Campbell (story), Kit Denton CastKenneth Tsang (Thao Kimalayo), Harold Hopkins (Malcolm), Gerard Maguire (Steven Slater), Alexander Cann (Henry Hoffman), Slim DeGrey (Alexander Gurney) Similar moviesJessica (2004), Kitty and the Bagman (1983), The Night the Prowler (1978), Bliss (1985), Oyster Farmer (2004)
Demonstrator is a 1971 film directed by Warwick Freeman.
Joe Slater, the Australian Defence Minister, has organised an Asian security conferred in Canberra. His son Steven, who is in love with his father's secretary, organises a protest by university students against the conference. Steven is beaten up, loses his girlfriend and sees the demonstration overtaken by professional agitators.
Joe James as Joe Slater
Irene Inescort as Marion Slater
Gerry Maguire as Steven Slater
Wendy Lingham as Sarah Wainwright
Kenneth Tsang as Thao Kimalayao
Michael Long as Hugh Prentiss
Harold Hopkins as Malcolm
Elizabeth Hall as Beth
Kerry Dwyer as Robin
Slim de Grey as Prime Minister
Elizabeth Hall as Beth
Stewart Ginn as Superintendent Ackland
Ken Goodlet as Inspector Graham
Noel Ferrier as Governor-General
David Brice, a newsreader with CTC7 in Canberra, optioned a book by Don and Elizabeth Coleman. He met some ACT solicitors to raise funding and approached experienced TV producers Warwick Freeman and Jim Fishburn. They formed Act One (The Fund) and commissioned FFI (Freeman Fishburn International) to make the movie.
The film began shooting in September 1970 on location in Canberra. The only imported actor was Kenneth Tsang from Hong Kong. Students from the Australian National University appeared as extras and Prime Minister John Gorton told government departments to assist wherever possible, provided no direct expenditure was made. Freeman says that during filming he realised there was not enough money to complete the film so he had to go around in the evenings raising further funds from locals:
We finished it on budget, or under, and on time. But the relationship with Act One became strained. What was I directing? A great story? Actors? The performances? A drama of the times? I don't really remember. We were all new to it and the job was functional. Get it shot, in the can, and make it audience friendly. I do remember ensuring that all the screen requirements for movies of the day were intact. The car chase, the sex scene, the nudity... and of course the music themes.... We were naive. The approach to enticing great performances from actors, or the passionate need to tell an important story was not an underlying rationale. None of the parameters of current day movie-making prevailed. I don't really remember the driving force except for that of the Aussie film industry's need for a serious contemporary picture...we tried for that.
The film achieved some success in Canberra but was a commercial and critical disappointment. David Stratton wrote:
The film takes an expectedly establishment attitude towards all those naughty students demonstrating against the wise government, but also tries to appeal to the young audiences by including a poolside orgy, a frank, naked love scene and a series of car crashes... the most exciting thing about the film was the distributor Columbia's frenzied publicity campaign.