These Heathen Dreams – help complete this important film on Christopher Barnett

these heathen dreamsThese Heathen Dreams is a film project attempting an intimate examination of Australian expatriate, Christopher Barnett; a revolutionary artist and poet who, despite many personal and professional challenges, remains faithful to his belief that art can change the world. The filmmakers are currently looking to raise the final $25,000 needed to complete this film through crowd funding  by 25 January 2013

About Christopher Barnett

Best known as an avant-garde poet and dramaturg, Christopher Barnett won both acclaim and notoriety in Australia during the 70’s and 80’s before moving to France in 1992. He left behind a legacy of challenging works, including Selling Ourselves for Dinner, a play about the Russian futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, commissioned for the 1982 Adelaide Festival of Arts; Ulrike Meinhof Sings a one-woman performance piece about the infamous Baader-Meinhof group; and Basket Weaving for Amateurs, a controversial play attacking the complacency of Australia’s conservative literary establishment.

Battling fallout from celebrity and a drug dependency, this ‘enfant terrible’ of the Australian underground arts scene, sought refuge in the 1980’s in Nantes in Western France, where he established experimental arts lab and theatre company, Le Dernier Spectateur (, which continues its work today. Working with the marginalized and disenfranchised of society, Barnett uses poetry, performance and music to assist people to overcome and survive their personal circumstances, for which he has earned praise and support from influential French figures, including notably the recently elected French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Using observational footage from France and archival film dating back to the 70’s Australia, where as a 13-year old prodigy poet Barnett is seen marching in a Vietnam moratorium beside the future Premier of South Australia Lyn Arnold; this documentary examines the contribution of an Australian artist who many claim to be one of its great living writers. Text from his recent poem, when they came/for you elegies/of resistance, acts as a Greek chorus throughout the documentary, and provides an insight into the power and poignancy of Barnett’s work.

From his formative years in Adelaide, when he was recruited by a Maoist faction of the Communist Party, through heady days in Melbourne punk scene as a controversial poet and playwright, to recent years in Nantes as a French citizen working as an ‘acteur sur le terrain’, THESE HEATHEN DREAMS is a study of the power of political activism, experienced through the life and times of the fascinating and eloquent warrior poet, Christopher Barnett.

About The Film

The filmmakers are aiming to make a high quality documentary. It will be an important film, demonstrating how art and artists can positively affect many people’s lives, can help them to survive their circumstances and bring out the best in humanity. The intention is not to make another ghettoized arts doco but to make the narrative shine as a fascinating story about an inspiring and engaging subject.

Christopher Barnett, poet, writer, dramaturg, arts-activist and social mediator, is not only a talented writer and performer whose works deserve to be better appreciated, but he is also a beacon for many other artists and audiences he has touched. His work continues to influence people, with a growing audience around the world through the Internet. The former mayor of Nantes and current French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault sees the role of culture in society as essential and Barnett as one of the great social mediators, stressing the value of his work with the most socially disadvantaged of society through his theatre company Le Dernier Spectateur.

There is a sense of urgency for in making this film with Christopher as his health is fast deteriorating. The filmmakers have declared they want to be there with him not only as filmmakers but also as artists supporting a fellow artist.


Anne Tsoulis – Writer/Director/Co-producer

Anne is an experienced and accredited writer, director, script editor and creative producer for feature films, television and digital new media both locally and overseas with over twenty years in the industry. She has known Christopher Barnett since their time as teenage students together in Adelaide, South Australia.

Georgia Wallace-Crabbe – Producer

Georgia is a partner and director of production company Film Projects. She is an award winning documentary producer and director and a recipient of the AFI Best Documentary Award for Jade Babe 2005 (Producer) with diverse credits in documentary including the recent award winning film New Beijing 2010 (director/producer).


Information about The Heathen Dreams:

A non exhaustive list of resources about Christopher Barnett on the web.

Red Planet archive. Poster collection State Library of Victoria
Philip ‘Charlie’ Rees’ poster for the 1985-6 productions of Ulrike Meinhof Sings in Melbourne and Adelaide. Red Planet archive. Poster collection State Library of Victoria

General resources

If you are aware of any other online reviews or article on Christopher please email the details to



  1. Thank you so much for helping us in our quest. We are very passionate about making this film about this extraordinary writer who has had such an enormous influence on so many lives through his art work. We are seeking pledges for any amount to our crowdfunding campaign – no amount is too small. In numbers we can make this happen. Cheers Anne Tsoulis (writer, director, co-producer)

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