Australian Biography: B.A. Santamaria


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1998, 52 Minutes. Exempt from classification.

This Australian Biography special looks at the fascinating and controversial career of BA Santamaria - political activist, ardent anti-communist, committed anti-feminist and devout Catholic.

Bartholomew Augustine (Bob) Santamaria had one of the most controversial careers of 20th century Australia. While his intelligence and leadership always inspired enormous loyalty in his followers and admirers, he was condemned by his enemies as Machiavellian, destructive, even evil.
This film looks at the fascinating political career of someone whose commitment to the Church was the foundation of his involvement in politics. His passionate anti-communism and the strategies he adopted in leading a grassroots anti-communist organisation, known as The Movement, led to the formation of the Democratic Labor Party, which is credited with keeping the Australian Labor Party from power for two decades. On the one hand, this earned him the profound respect of those who welcomed on to the Australian scene such a brilliant anti-left strategist, but on the other, it incurred the hatred of some of his oldest allies. Santamaria explains the motivations behind his dramatic life and provides insight into how it felt to be one of the most reviled yet intriguing figures in Australian politics. The film also looks beyond the political facade of Santamaria and seeks the personal side. What sort of father was the founder of the socially conservative National Civic Council? How did he apply his masculinist views of the family to his own life? What did this opponent of the women’s liberation movement really think of women?
This in-depth interview, the last recorded before his death, reveals a personal side of Santamaria rarely seen even by those close to him. He talks intimately about religion, family, society, and his view of his own place in it.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. Made in association with SBS TV. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

FREE Teachers' Notes - Download here

NB The Australian Biography series (1-11) are only available for sale within the territories of Australia and New Zealand.


Director: Robin Hughes, Linda Kruger

Year: 1998

Running Time: 52 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: Australian History, Contemporary Australian Society, Cultural Studies, Politics, Religion, SOSE.


Doc – A Portrait of Herbert Vere Evatt


SKU 199600901
Brand Film Australia

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