Discussing a Donald Friend documentary

I haven’t seen Kerry Negara’s documentary A Loving Friend, in which she deals with the Australian artist Donald Friend’s (1915-1989) supposed sex crimes against boys in Bali. However, I found this review and the discussion that follows it interesting. The reviewer Lauren Bliss shows that the film’s sensationalist approach might work against it:

My questioning of his guilt came from watching a film where Friend was painted to be completely evil and the art critics who supported him to be bumbling fools. […] From this, I found it nearly impossible to digest any of the facts presented by Negara as truthful […]

Most interesting though, isn’t the discussion about Friend’s guilt or the film’s aesthetics, but what the film’s script editor John Doggett-Williams¬†writes:

If you have any pride in your work or want to gain some credibility withdraw your original review from publication.

Such demands from the filmmakers make me listen even more to the reviewer. In any case, I would like to see the film.

(The picture is a drawing by Donald Friend of Dolog, a teenager boy he met in 1967. From The Diaries of Donald Friend, Volume 4, page 26.)

5 thoughts on “Discussing a Donald Friend documentary

  1. Karl if you are going to enter this discussion I suggest you get your facts right – the picture is a drawing of Dolog a 10 year old friend met in 1967, not as you say, a teenager. In his diaries Friend openly describes having sex with this 10 year old.

    Also just because one person out of many has said the film is sensationalist, does not mean that it actually is.

  2. I am the filmmaker ie. writer, producer, director of this documentary and I have not asked anyone to remove their review. I have not entered into any discussion around this review.

    If you would like to see the full publicity of comments and reviews by the media – print and radio – on ‘A Loving Friend’ you can view these on my site at:

  3. It’s refreshing to see LJB piercing hysteria, but the extent of the current hysteria is such that she still falls victim to it herself, where she writes (in this very review): “statistics still state that up to one in three females and one in five males will have suffered some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime; the negative effects of such assaults are numerous and are usually completely devastating to the victim”. Are one third of all women completely devastated? Get a grip. The fact that something is “a bad thing” doesn’t make it OK to talk in about it in exageration so extreme that it becomes straightforward falsehood. Sadly in this sentence LJB surrenders the very hysteria she is trying to expose … but more power to her anyway.

  4. Thanks for your comments, Kerry! I look forward to seeing your film when I get the opportunity.

    Someone wrote in the comments at Screenmachine that John Doggett-Williams, who suggested LJB withdraw her review, was the script editor of your film, i.e. part of the filmmakers (pluralis). Are you saying he is not involved in the making of the film? In that case I’ll correct that.

    I find the whole discussion around the diaries and your film very interesting from many points of view, but will not comment at length before actually seeing the film.

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