The Family (2016)

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Anne Hamilton-Byrne was beautiful, charismatic and delusional. She was also incredibly dangerous. Convinced she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, Hamilton-Byrne headed an apocalyptic sect called The Family, which was prominent in Melbourne from the 1960s through to the 1990s. With her husband Bill, she acquired numerous children - some through adoption scams, some born to cult members - and raised them as her own. Isolated from the outside world, the children were dressed in matching outfits, had identical dyed blonde hair, and were allegedly beaten, starved and injected with LSD. Taught that Hamilton-Byrne was both their mother and the messiah, the children were eventually rescued during a police raid in 1987, but their trauma had only just begun. With survivors and cult members telling their stories alongside the Australian and international detectives who worked the case, this confronting feature documentary exposes not just what happened within the still-operating sect but also within the conservative Melbourne community that allowed The Family to flourish.

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Critic Reviews for The Family

All Critics (10)

The Family is a provocative documentary about an aspect of Australian history few under a certain age recall, and Jones's film grants a voice to those who had so long been denied one.

Sep 5, 2018 | Full Review…

The affectless way in which the survivors describe their abuse comes to counterpoint the sometimes histrionic choice of cinematic techniques.

Jun 6, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

As fascinating as it is disturbing.

Apr 5, 2017 | Full Review…

The core material, and the interviews, are urgent, essential records of an astonishingly awful Australian story.

Mar 22, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Absorbing investigative documentary about the Melbourne-based cult that brainwashed children in preparation for the Apocalypse...This is a story crying out to be turned into feature.

Mar 3, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Seamless and intelligent editing by Jane Usher creates a mystery story that's gripping and moving, as well as visually poetic.

Mar 2, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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