One of Australia’s most in-demand and highly regarded filmmakers, Kriv Stenders has generated an eclectic resume since graduating from the Australian Film, Radio & Television School in 1989.
Having started out helming gritty, low budget handheld dramas like Blacktown (2005) and Boxing Day (2007), Stenders introduced himself to mainstream audiences in 2009 with the crowd-pleasing Red Dog, which won Best Film at the inaugural AACTA awards in 2012 and currently holds eighth position in the all-time highest grossing Australian films at the domestic box office.
Stenders is also a prolific force in local television, helming episodes of A Place to Call Home, Jack Irish, and the bold and accomplished mini-series remake of Aussie classic Wake in Fright (2017). His other features include the crime-comedy Kill Me Three Times (2014), prequel Red Dog: True Blue (2016) and most recently, the intense Vietnam war drama Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (2019).
The story of “ordinary boys who become extraordinary men”, Danger Close depicts one of the most savage and decisive ANZAC engagements in Australian military history, when 108 largely inexperienced ANZACs went into battle against 2000+ battle-hardened Vietnamese soldiers at the Long Tan rubber plantation on August 18, 1966.
“At its core this movie Danger Close is ultimately a universal and elemental story that celebrates life and the bravery, brotherhood, unity and loyalty men are capable of when thrust into even the most terrifying and extraordinary circumstances,” says Stenders. “I saw it as a thrilling, propulsive and suspenseful action movie, underscored by a powerful emotional resonance. Like Black Hawk Down, Danger Close will not be a ‘war movie,’ but rather an exciting, nail-biting rollercoaster ride, rich with visual spectacle – a modern Australian legend that celebrates our distinctive and unique sense of unity, loyalty and mateship.”
Moreover, the film significantly raises awareness of ANZAC participation in the Vietnam war. “The soldiers that went to Vietnam were never really understood,” explains Stenders. “They were spat on, they were called mercenaries. They weren’t even allowed in RSL clubs. When you realise what these guys did, not only in the Battle of Long Tan but what their service was throughout the entire Vietnam war, and look at the way they were treated, enough time has passed for us to realise that this battle that was fought for four hours on that afternoon in August 1966 has haunted these men for over 50 years and has left many scars.”