Then the Wind Changed
A terrifying glimpse into the heart of the inferno
An Australian family cowers in terror as a devastating firestorm sweeps across their land, engulfing their home, killing their neighbours and destroying their town. For those who survived, the years that followed would test them in ways they couldn't have imagined. This observation of ordinary people responding to an extraordinary event offers a tender insight into mankind's amazing potential to manage adversity and rise up from despair.
Dom works with the fire service and stays behind to look for survivors. Miraculously, the fire has skipped over his house. But fate struck his neighbour Denis a crueller blow. A falling tree blocked his family's escape and they perished in the bath, where they were sheltering from the inferno. Dini's husband and son couldn't get home and died on the road. "To lose your family is such an incomprehensible thing". Amid the awful silence and blackened trees the clean-up is loud and jarring. Heavy rains gouge furrows on the blackened hillsides. The landscape feels like a cemetery. People decamp to vans. Australia's Eucalyptus forests have been burning and renewing for thousands of years. Native grasses now flourish within the burnt forest. So life goes on with that awful feeling: it could have been me. Denis was building a new house for two families: his and his son's. He can't bring himself to move in yet, now all the others are gone. Bron's children are angry. Her daughter Lola lashes out: "You're doing everything wrong". Olee is a farmer who lost his crop, his house and his dogs. He's gripped by "constant panic". Strathewen tries to function as a community. But there's anger. No official warning came on Black Saturday. Bodies of loved ones were left to rot in cars. The women form groups and grieve together. The men "get busy" alone. But months and years pass and people begin to move on, to lose the adrenaline that gripped them that day. Denis finds love again in relief worker Susie, though not everyone in this tight-knit community approves. Dina finds solace in a uniquely Australian fashion: nursing orphaned wombats. Lola can at last play out those "scary things" with her toys. Bron laughs: "We take our children to psychologists instead of ballet!" The school is rebuilt with the names of those who died etched into the bricks. The children's writing shows how fragile they feel and the tears still flow easily. Two-and-a-half years on, Olee's house is at last being rebuilt and Bron's new house is ready. Olee remains unsure he can cope, but for others, a future seems possible. At times intensely moving, this film makes us all wonder how we and our children would cope if death struck all around. LEARN MORE.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION. OFFICIAL SELECTION - IDFA 2011 NOMINATED - Best Stand Alone Documentary Film, Australian Director's Guild 2012 NOMINATED - Best Stand Alone Documentary Film, Australian Director's Guild 2012 WINNER - Walkley Award for Best Documentary, Australia, 2012 OFFICIAL SELECTION - GZ Docs, China, 2012 WINNER - Best Documentary Under One Hour, AACTA 2013