Killing Off the Beat to investigate Sydney gay-hate crimes

10 December, 2015 by Brian Karlovsky

Gay-hate crime documentary Killing Off the Beat has launched a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to investigate a dark period in Sydney's history.

The film, written and produced by Serkan Ozturk, will attempt to unravel a part of Sydney’s recent history that saw men fall prey to ‘gay-hate killings’, assaults and bashings at gay beats. 


Ozturk said of the deaths were not properly investigated by police at the time and were classified mostly as "suicide" despite links between a large number of the incidents to anti-gay violence.

Spanning a period between the first Mardi Gras in 1978 to the present day, the independent film will focus on a number of key threads to build community and political pressure for a Royal Commission or another independent high-level body to look at historical gay-hate killings.

It will also look at past and current-day cases of alleged police brutality, according to Ozturk.

"We believe this documentary film which has been in production for two years now and closely following a number of related stories will be an important first step in establishing a Royal Commission or similar high-level independent inquiry into the spate of historical gay-hate crimes across Sydney between the 1970s-90s," Ozturk said.

The film will examine the response of NSW Police to the crimes.

It has been written and researched by Ozturk and is co-produced with Igor Shmaryan ('True Face' – Best International Feature 2015 Illinois Film Festival; various nominations at Toronto Female Eye Film Festival).

Ozturk said the film had been self-funded to the tune of at least $10,000 to $15,000.

"We have been working on this film for almost two years," he said.

"Filming on the documentary began in early May 2014 and we have already completed about 25 in-depth interviews for the film – including alleged police bashing and brutality victims such as Bryn Hutchinson, Alan Rosendale and David Rook."

Interviews include five "78ers" from the first ever Sydney Mardi Gras in 1978, former NSW Police officer Duncan McNab, artist and academic Simon Hunt (aka Pauline Pantsdown), newsreader, Geoff Field, historians such as Garry Wotherspoon and Thomas Lynch, well-known American investigative journalist Daniel Glick (who is investigating the death of American student Scott Johnson in Manly in 1989) as well as writer and journalist Rick Feneley from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Politicians including Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith and Greens MLC David Shoebridge also feature in the film.

In coming months, the filmamkers will follow the coronial inquest into the 1989 death of US maths student Scott Johnson at Manly and will attempt to locate and intereview gay-hate murderers or people who knew them.

Ozturk said he was aiming to have the film completed by the middle of 2016.

"This will be dependent on a number of factors, including the total amount that we can raise from crowdfunding," he said.

"We will be targeting a premiere screening for the Hot Docs festival in Canada as well as screenings at major queer film festivals in Australia and overseas.

"Any support of our film's aims or our crowdfunding campaign will be greatly and eternally appreciated. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you would like to know more about our project."