Filmmaker: Rosie Jones
Length: 3 x 59'
This series spans half a century to dig deep into The Cult of The Family and its dangerous, charismatic leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, a one-time yoga teacher whose followers worship her as Jesus Christ reincarnated in the female form. At the heart of the cult is a dark and terrible secret – a bizarre experiment to raise a ‘master race’ of children who will save the world after Armageddon. Home-schooled in isolation, dressed identically and with dyed blonde hair, these regimented children evoke The Sound of Music and Children of the Damned. There are allegations of abuse, starvation and dosing with LSD and tranquilisers. One former cult member counts sixty people, including adults and children, who she believes have committed suicide while in The Family. But despite a five-year police investigation over three continents, Anne walks away without a jail sentence and just a paltry $5000 fine. Why did she get off so lightly? What was the source of her power? How did she control her enablers? And what was happening in society that allowed the cult to flourish? The series excavates the evidence gathered by the police and takes testimony from cult.
Rosie Jones is an award-winning documentary writer, director and editor. Her most recent film is the feature doc, The Triangle Wars about an epic struggle over development on an iconic Australian foreshore. Previous documentaries include Westall ‘66: A Suburban UFO Mystery, an investigation of Australia’s biggest mass UFO sighting, Obsessed with Walking, an exploration of psychogeography with Booker-nominated writer Will Self, Holy Rollers, a wry look at Christian pilgrimage amid the tensions of Israel (and Visions of Yankalilla, about an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a church in South Australia. She has edited numerous documentaries commissioned by Australian and international broadcasters with recent credits including the feature documentary - James Cameron’s Deep Sea Challenge 3D, Queen of the Desert, Suicide and Me, My Brother Vinnie, Wedding Sari Showdown 1 & 2 and The Mascot.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The book ‘The Family’ was released in Australia, the UK and in the US in 2017.
Writer/ Director/ Co-Producer: Rosie Jones
Producers: Anna Grieve
Editor: Steve Robinson
Director of Photography: Jaems Grant Acs
Composer: Amanda Brown
Sound Design: Livia Ruzic and Keith Thomas
Sound: Mark Tarpey
Produced by Big Stories in association with Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Screen Australia and Film Victoria