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Remembering Mark Worth - Janet Bell interview

Video clip synopsis – Producer Janet Bell looks back on the life and work of the director of Land of the Morning Star, Mark Worth.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 5min 29sec
Tags - capitalism, Cold War, Indonesia, media, Papua New Guinea, see all tags


Remembering Mark Worth - Janet Bell interview

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About the Video Clip


This interview with Janet Bell was recorded for the Pacific Stories website produced in 2005. Janet Bell has worked extensively in broadcasting since the 1970s when she was founding member of The Australian Women’s Broadcasting Cooperative. She has worked as a producer/director and Executive Producer both at Film Australia and the ABC. In 2003 she produced Mark Worth’s last film, Land of the Morning Star, a film featured on the Pacific Stories website.

Pacific Stories is a co-production between Film Australia’s National Interest Program and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Presented by Vika and Linda Bull, the project explores the geography, history and culture of the South Pacific.

Curriculum Focus


Area of study 1. Ideas and Political Power

In VCE History students have the opportunity to:

  • Analyse and discuss how post war societies used ideologies to legitimise their worldview and portray competing systems. (Outcome 1.)
  • Analyse and discuss principal features of a post–war conflict.
  • Analyse and discuss the ways in which the competing groups represented themselves and each other; for example, views on the individual in society, the proper function of the state, tolerance of dissent and minority groups, views of nationalism.
  • Analyse and discuss the outcome of competition between ideologies; for example, military threats, propaganda wars or isolationalism.
This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


This video clip is an interview about the making of the documentary Land of the Morning Star. Interviewed is the film’s producer Janet Bell. Mark Worth, the film’s director and writer died after the film was finished, before its first public screening.

The producer explains the sources of information and historic footage included in the film and provides an insight about some of the people interviewed for the documentary. For example, Janet Bell speaks warmly of Ian Siagian who represents the Indonesian point of view in the film:

We chose Ian Siagian, who was (then Indonesian President) Megawati’s representative in Australia, to represent an Indonesian point of view. As always happens when you have a big political conflict like the Indonesians in West Papua, Ian Siagian is a lovely man. He’s genuinely warm and friendly and loves his country. He is passionate about Indonesia, and he was able to explain to us why it was so important to the Indonesians that all of those islands that had been part of the Dutch colonial empire were to be part of a new Indonesia. The terrific thing about Ian Siagian is his pride in being Indonesian and how he was able to sing the song ‘from Sabang to Merauke’… the importance of Indonesia remaining as a whole. What had been the Dutch East Indies was to become Indonesia, no exceptions and West Papua was caught in the middle because the Dutch had promised all sorts of things about independence that they simply couldn’t deliver. When Ian arrived for his interview he came with a flag of Indonesia which he proudly put up behind him. And you understood what it meant to Indonesians.

Classroom Activities

  1. In documentary video making, many choices have to be made about content, people, format, approaches as well as voice overview. From viewing this video clip select five questions for the filmmaker about making this video.
  2. Prepare a review of the video clip. In this review consider:
    1. Historical context of the videoclip
    2. Ways in which the video clip uses persuasive techniques
    3. How successful do you think the video clip is in presenting information about Papua?
    4. How does the video convey messages about the political situation at the time?
    5. What background does the filmmaker bring to the video clip?
    6. Does the video clip portray more than one standpoint?
    7. What point/points is the filmmaker Mark Worth trying to make?
  3. Describe the different responses the video clip could have to audiences in Indonesia, Australia and Papua. Describe the role that censorship could play in the showing of this video.
  4. Link the history of Papua and the leadership struggles to other countries such as East Timor in the second half of the twentieth century. Draw parallels to other nations striving for independence. Examine the role that leaders, the United Nations and the United States of America have played in their independence struggle.

Further Resources


Go to Pacific Stories Learning for Interactive Compass Map with facts about the Pacific region.

For interview transcripts, books and references for this Digital Resource go to Pacific Stories, choose Land of the Morning Star, select INDEX, and go to MORE INFORMATION.