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Filmed over three years and amassing more than 250 hours of footage, “The Triangle Wars” presents the story of a plan to develop a community’s beloved foreshore car-park into a multipurpose retail and recreational centre, and a community’s fierce opposition to it.
In the years between 2007 and 2009, controversy raged over a $300 million plan to develop a community area in the seaside town of St. Kilda. The local community felt an overwhelming sense of betrayal at the local council’s plan to give the land over to developers despite widespread rage and vocal opposition. In response, the community united to rally against the project, producing a leader in the form of Serge Thomann, the person they chose to manifest their rage and present their view. Thomann leads a band of protesters in an appeal to prevent the project from going ahead.
However, the film cannot be faulted for being partisan. While “The Triangle Wars” captures the depth of feeling felt by the local community, director Rosie Jones is careful to maintain balance and neutrality by presenting the views of the developers in an equally positive light. The developers are given a voice in the likeable developer Steve McMillian and pro-development local councillor Dick Gross, who are able to highlight their offers of compromise to the community as well as the good the development would do for the area.
While the story is seen primarily through the lens of a small community on the one hand and the developers and their supporters on the other, it is also an exposition of the wider state of modern day deliberative democracy in Australia. The story is, in Jones’ words, a “vehicle for much bigger themes… where we live, who decides what we look like, what is ‘community’ and how are we all connected.” It is a story about sweeping social issues, contemporary Australian politics, and the role that each person can play in the wider political arena.