Can Art Stop a Bullet: William Kelly's Big Picture / Australia, 2019, 93’ Directed by: Mark Street
William Kelly widely considered the social conscience of Australian art, once said: “Art can’t stop a bullet, but it can stop a bullet from being fired”. Can it? Filmed on five continents, with contributions from over 20 artists, thinkers and activists, this documentary explores the power of art to influence violence in the world. The film documents the creation of Kelly’s monumental artwork “Peace or War/The Big Picture”. It is a tapestry of history and art, drawn from major artworks and photos from the defining conflicts of their relevant times. This immense visual collage allows the audience to navigate through time and place, meeting survivors of these horrific moments in history and the artists who have created work commenting on these periods, some of which have become iconic. Through Kelly’s drawings, the audience is transported to the concentration camps of the Third Reich, the bombing of Hiroshima, “the Troubles” in Ireland, the race riots in the US and Pol Pot’s Year Zero. Interwoven with archival footage of these cataclysmic events, the audience is invited to visit anti-war and anti-gun demonstrations today, events that call for similar injustices to be stopped. The film is a parallel work to Kelly’s enduring masterpiece, unfolding to create the ‘Big Picture’ in documentary form.