Heidi Lee Douglas is one of Australia's most promising young filmmakers, an award-winning director and an expert in telling stories about social change.
Heidi's films have played an important role in protect Australia's marine and wilderness environments. Yet her activism came at a great cost. The young filmmaker's powerful documentation of the declining forests of Tasmania drew the ire of Gunns, the largest woodchip company in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2004, the company sued Heidi and 19 other activists for $6.4 million and lost. Her court victory averted the ability of corporations to silence dissenters.
Heidi's brave five-year fight against Gunns became the subject of her internationally broadcast documentary, Defendant 5. The 30-minute documentary details how Heidi learnt that standing up for what you believe often comes with a great cost.
Her fight against Gunns was a frightening experience but it served as an inspiration to advocates of social responsibility. It points to the importance of the three factors which many big corporations abuse: people, profits and the environment. Heidi's bravery, along with her 19 co-defendants, resulted in Gunns decline into receivership after the company lost the favour of investors and the community.
Heidi's documentary aired on ABC in late 2014 and was broadcast in 2015 to Al-Jazeera's viewership of more than 300 million people.
The filmmaker's career in environmental activism began early on when she worked with The Wilderness Society, Australia's largest conservation group. In 2008, she launched Dark Lake Productions, her effort to bring about positive change through empowering communities with writing, video production training, content creation and storytelling.
Heidi's film work has premiered at screenings all across the world in national and international venues. She's been a part of many broadcast documentaries, educational programs and interactive websites. Heidi also maintains a successful career as a writer and director for dramas.
Heidi has done justice to a difficult conversation that the community needs to have
Gunns CEO and Company Board Member
This is an important story that engages on many levels. Gunns governance failed a number of basic governance tests and yet while ever the share price went up, greed powered the market. Even internal corporate governance standards for investment were put aside with disastrous consequences for ordinary investors and an innocent bystander. Congratulations on being so gutsy in telling your story.
Businessman and Environmental Philanthropist
Defendant 5 is a powerful and personal account of events which should concern us all.
Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law