by Matthew Eeles
New images have been revealed for Scott Mannion’s intriguing new film, The Defector.
Acting as a concept short for a feature film currently in development, The Defector is set in the days preceding the mysterious disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, as paranoia engulfs the conservative government. Whilst Holt struggles to suppress Red hysteria from within; Charles Forwell, Australia’s chief spymaster, leads a witch-hunt promoting it. When Holt’s administration becomes the target of Forwell’s investigations, this paranoid landscape turns into an espionage battleground, and Holt must get his hands dirty to retain power. Holt’s fate, and the course of Australian political history, is in the balance.
Harold Holt was Australia’s 17th Prime Minister from 1966 – 1967. His mysterious disappearance on Sunday, 17 December 1967 at Cheviot Beach in Port Phillip Bay lead to much speculation about the keen swimmer’s death. Everything has been suggested from suicide, drowning, shark attack and stranger theories such as writer Anthony Grey’s, who suggested Holt had been a spy for the People’s Republic of China and a Chinese submarine had picked him up.
“A film is an idea, a dream,” Mansion told Fairfax’s The Age over the weekend. “The audience is interacting with that idea, and they come to it with sets of expectations, contexts, knowledge, and judgments. But then you add the other variable: their prior interaction with the Holt enigma. It’s endlessly complex.”
Sean Taylor, who readers will know from TV’s Rake, stars as Holt along with Mal Kennard, Lech Mackiewicz, Josef Ber, Aaron Scully, Renaud Jadin and Francis McMahon. The Defector’s producers will be submitting the film to a bunch of international film festivals before audiences can catch it via digital download in 2017.