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LOADED

Australia, 1993 (MIFF 1993, Documentaries)

Director: Helen Bowden, Susan MacKinnon

Loaded gets under the skin of the men (and some women) whose lives are immersed in gun culture. At once inviting us to appreciate their passion and obsession for weapons, while simultaneously provoking its audience to question and criticise, Loaded is a provocative and timely entry into the gun-lobby debate.

The material, extracted from unusually intimate interviews with the subjects, examines the full range of the (pro) gun community. The farmer-cum-gun collector and 'mechanic' is in awe of the object's mechanical precision and design, but admits that his real kicks derive from tinkering with ammunition mixes in the quest for greater speed, accuracy and (most of all) power. The pistol shooter-cum-magazine editor sees his target shooting pursuit as an exercise in self-discipline, mind control and physical development. The security guard trainer seeks to equip his clients with adequate skill and control to handle guns safety and thoughtfully in crisis situations; scenes with his rookie trainees only illustrate the devastating power of the weapons when out of such con­trol. The gun dealer claims a purely aesthetic passion for these fine antiques; while the aspir­ing Shooters Party parliamentarian sees gun ownership restrictions as solely a civil rights issue. Loaded goes a long way to developing the fleeting notions many of us may have of male fascination with weaponry, without putting words in our mouths or those of its subjects. Particularly rich in verbal texture and striking­ly edited by Veronika Jenet, who largely eschews the tricky self-conscious cutting of similar documentaries. Loaded is a fascinating foray into the psychological and physical arena of gun use.

Tait Brady

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