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We Are Conjola - Our Fire Story - Film Review

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by Kate Blake (subscribe)
Exploring, nature and connection through writing are my passions. Find me on☺
Published August 14th 2021
A compelling graphic doco that will devastate and uplift

We Are Conjola - Our Fire Story is a confronting documentary of trauma and misery with a plethora of heroes, followed by much generosity and healing. Brenan skilfully weaves personal anecdotes, official responses, news footage, Google satellite maps, stills and much phone footage of one area's devastation during our disastrous bushfires last year to their staunch recovery by adopting community and creativity in all its forms.


This engaging doco will captivate from beginning to end, but be warned, it will likely trigger an emotional response. Their graphic description of the sights, sounds, confusion and raw emotions that confront one during a major disaster compels us to wonder how we would cope. There are detailed aspects of journalists terms and woven throughout are reassuring uplifting stories of recovery.

The updrafts that rendered the fire choppers useless; the roar of wind and fire; of a fire maelstrom making its own erratic weather system; trees and gas bottles exploding … this wildfire took on a life of its own and those caught in it experienced Dante's hottest hell. The fireballs are gruesomely described as being ten by ten metres large, about a hundred metres in the air and rapidly travelling 300 metres … a vision we can't begin to imagine. And there were lots of them. Ground fires that spotted and sent out tongues of fire they couldn't extinguish, everything single thing about them was burning.


Somehow apps didn't have the same impact of urgency as a knock on the door by police, so residents were confused as to when to leave. The innumerable losses impacted gravely. This community lost 89 homes, three people and masses of wildlife. Their personal stories are heart-wrenching, raising the question of 'how can we assure that this never happens again'.

The lake with only two RFS trucks saved them as rescue crews were preoccupied with saving other areas. Resilient locals gathered as a community using all their determination and talent.


Creativity is their main tool for recovery plus counselling. Art, sculpture, a choir, powerful poetry, the 'Charcoal' song, film, replanting, a bell made from a gas bottle rings out in remembrance. Be sure to watch this comprehensive documentary to see who came to the rescue and their campaign to save 20 hectares to sustain more than 500 species. And don't leave before the credits as the young lad's song is moving.

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Why? A comprehensive doco of disaster and recovery
Your Comment
I remember the tragedy of Conjola and have no doubt this documentary with pull at the heart strings.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9635) 391 days ago
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