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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 - colonisation, indigenous cultures, Indonesia, nationalism, Papua New Guinea, self-determination, 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


The principal focus of this Preliminary topic is that students apply historical enquiry methods within a range of contexts to investigate key features, issues, individuals, groups, events, concepts and other forces from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The syllabus prescribes that students undertake at least two case studies with at least one from Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and Central/South America. This study is from the Pacific.

This Digital Resource can be used to achieve the following Outcomes (of selected studies from the eighteenth century to the present):

P 1.1 describe the role of key individuals, groups and events
P 1.2 investigate and explain the key features and issues
P 2.1 identify forces and ideas and explain their significance in contributing to change and continuity
P 3.1 ask relevant historical questions
P 3.4 identify and account for differing perspectives and interpretations of the past

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies 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. If Mark Worth did not have the passion and commitment to get this film made then the story told in the film Land of the Morning Star may have gone untold. Of what value is such a film and who should view it?
  2. Historical footage is selected, personalities to interview are selected and mood and emotion can be evoked through the art of the filmmaker. What then is the historical value of such films and what skills of evaluation should the historian employ when viewing them to learn of key issues, individuals, groups and events?
    1. After viewing this interview and the other video clips on Film Australia’s Digital Learning website what is your response to the issue of self-determination for Papuans?
    2. To what extent do you think the video clips present either a balanced or biased view of events?

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.