Barbara Chobocky is one of Australia’s most highly respected documentary filmmakers. Her work spans four decades from 1975 to the present, during which time she has focused on subjects that illuminate the psychological impact of social history and politics on the lives of individuals and families across a multicultural spectrum. Barbara has chosen topics that throw light on the behaviour of ordinary people whose lives have been shaped by extraordinary circumstances.
Capitalist Drive (2005) is a personal account of one family and its links across two continents and three generations, despite political divides. In Capitalist Drive, Barbara turns the camera on her own extended family to discover how ordinary people cope with the social and personal upheaval. She explores the parallels between her enterprising cousins negotiating the first years of free-market democracy in the Czech Republic and the post-war migration of her immediate family to what her father called “the wild west” – a new life in Australia. Along the way, she uncovers stories of love and loss and a rather eccentric attachment to cars. Capitalist Drive was screened as part of the official selection of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, Czech Republic, October 2004 and was runner up in the 2005 Australian Writers’ Guild Award for Best Public Broadcast Documentary. In 2006, it was showcased in the New Zealand International Documentary Film Festival and is scheduled for broadcast on Australia’s public broadcaster, ABCTV in January 2007.
WELCOME TO WAKS FAMILY
In 2004, Welcome to the Waks Family was rated as SBSTV’s most popular television documentary. Barbara produced, directed and co-wrote this program, which was produced by Documentary Films in association with Film Australia. Filmed over a period of five years, it is about Australia’s largest family that consists of seventeen children to the same two parents.
VIVA LA DIVA - PORTRAIT OF YVONNE KENNNY
The Australian Film commission awarded Barbara her second Documentary Fellowship in 1998. Following this she produced and directed Viva La Diva – Portrait of Yvonne Kenny. This behind-the-scenes portrait of Australia’s best-known contemporary soprano was broadcast on SBSTV in 2002 and has been shown on cable television throughout the UK and continental Europe
In April 1992, Iranian exiles ran riot in simultaneous demonstrations in Europe, North America, and Australia. In Canberra, the trashing of the Iranian Embassy was recorded by an SBSTV news crew and telecast worldwide. THE RAID, co-written, produced and directed by Barbara, investigates those tried as members of an international terrorist conspiracy and gives a comprehensive view of the political motives that led to the incident. This hour-long documentary was screened on SBSTV and was awarded an AWGIE for Best Public Broadcast Documentary in 1995. It was a finalist in the Dendy Awards of the 1996 Sydney Film Festival and won the 1996 ATOM Award for Best Social Issue Documentary. Internationally, THE RAID won a Media Net Award in Europe and in May 1997 the National Educational Media Network in the US acknowledged it with a Bronze Apple.
BILLION DOLLAR CROP
BILLION DOLLAR CROP reveals the real reasons behind the original prohibition of cannabis (aka hemp, grass, marijuana) during the 1930’s. This program was broadcast on ABCTV in 1994 and 1996 and is widely acknowledged throughout Australia as having led to legal reforms enabling farmers to grow the new non-drug varieties of this plant.
WITCH HUNT is a 90-minute Feature Documentary exposé of the so-called “Greek Conspiracy Case” – premiered at the 1987 Sydney Film Festival. In a speech from the public gallery after this screening, Justice Marcus Einfeld of the Federal court described Witch Hunt as: “outstanding, possibly the most significant contribution to the elimination of racism ever seen in this country.” Barbara’s work as co-writer (she was also producer and director) was honoured with an AFI Award for Best Screenplay.
In 1990 Barbara was awarded her first prestigious DOCUMENTARY FELLOWSHIP by ABCTV and the Australian Film Commission in recognition of the quality and creativity in her productions over the preceding decade. MARIA was the outcome and forerunner to Capitalist Drive. MARIA won the Dendy Award for Best Documentary at the 1992 Sydney Film Festival. It also won the Australian Human Rights Commission Award and the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission Award for best film, as well as an AWGIE for Best Documentary Screenplay and the Cinevex Award at the St. Kilda Film Festival.