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Sydney filmmakers launch crowdfunding campaign to investigate historical gay-hate killings

Sydney filmmakers launch crowdfunding campaign to investigate historical gay-hate killings

Writer Serkan Ozturk and co-producer Igor Shmaryan have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise US$50,000 for their documentary Killing Off The Beat that seeks to investigate ‘gay-hate crimes and police brutality over 40 years’ in Sydney, Australia.

The filmmakers say on the campaign page that an estimated 100 men are believed to have fallen prey to ‘gay-hate killings’ and many more assaulted and beaten at gay beats. However many of the cases remain unsolved.

‘Many of these deaths were not properly investigated by police at the time who classified most as “suicide” despite links between a large number of the incidents to anti-gay violence.’

Ozturk, a journalist who has contributed to mainstream and gay news outlets in Australia, added that the film seeks to ‘focus on a number of key threads as community and political pressure continues to grow for a Royal Commission or another independent high-level body to look at the historical gay-hate killings.’

In 2005, deputy state coroner Jacqueline Milledge delivered a scathing verdict on the ‘lacklustre,’ ‘disgraceful’ and ‘shameful’ police investigations that concluded John Russell, 31,and Wollongong newsreader Ross Warren, 24, had fallen accidentally to their deaths from the cliffs.

Filmmakers say they have put $10,000-$15,000 into the film and have been working on the project for two years including having done 25 in-depth interviews with alleged police bashing and brutality victims such as Bryn Hutchinson, Alan Rosendale and David Rook.

The documentary is scheduled to be released next year as would Deep Water, a miniseries produced by broadcaster SBS on the same issue.

Ozturk has controversially alleged that although Screen Australia declined to fund his project in early 2014, it approved a grant for the rival project 12 months later.

He told the Star Observer in a report about the two projects that the other team could have plagiarized his idea or research as he was in talks with SBS journalist Patrick Abboud to develop his documentary and that Blackfella Films researcher Benjamin Law knew about the project because he had ‘liked’ the Killing Off the Beat’s Facebook page.

Darren Dale managing director of Blackfella Films, who is co-producing the four-part series, has refuted plagiarism claims saying that he had the original idea for Deep Water about three years ago and only learnt of Ozturk’s documentary around mid this year.

Ozturk said on the Indiegogo page, ‘We believe that only our film will ask serious questions on just how much NSW Police knew about the anti-gay violence that once plagued Sydney.’

Peter Murphy discusses near fatal bashing by NSW Police after 1978 MardiGras:

Geoff Field, Australia’s first openly gay newsreader on the disappearance of Ross Warren, a famous WIN news TV newsreader in 1989:

Former NSW Police officer Duncan McNab speaks on gay-hate murders:

SMH journalist Rick Feneley discusses Sydney’s gay hate crimes: