Beyond Our Ken

April 28, 2017

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A measured, intelligently presented and finely crafted documentary.
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Beyond Our Ken

Erin Free
Year: 2008
Rating: M
Director: Luke Walker, Melissa Maclean
Cast:

Ken Dyers, Jan Hamilton, Kenja disciples

Distributor: eOne
Format:
Released: Available now
Running Time: 98 minutes
Worth: $18.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

A measured, intelligently presented and finely crafted documentary.

From the outside, Kenja Communications doesn’t look like a religious cult. Its founder is Ken Dyers, who looks more like a bloke you’d see at the local pub than some kind of spiritual guru. His wife and co-founder Jan Hamilton is a plummy wannabe actress. Their “disciples” are average looking Aussies.

But in this measured, intelligently presented and finely crafted documentary by Luke Walker and Melissa Maclean, the layers are peeled back on Kenja to reveal a singularly creepy and unsettling institution. Dyers and Hamilton are interviewed at length and they quickly showcase themselves as primping, spotlight-craving oddballs peddling a curious practice called “energy conversion” and holding crappy looking stage shows that seem to exist solely to appease the very theatrical Jan Hamilton.

But when former members of Kenja are interviewed, things get decidedly darker, with allegations of mental and physical abuse, and questions raised about the organisation’s finances. But this is no witch hunt: the filmmakers maintain an even handed tone throughout, and give equal time to all parties. It’s ultimately Dyers and Hamilton who bring themselves undone, and Dyers’ final outburst – a screamed, defensive litany of anger and accusations – is highly unsettling and near-damning. It’s absorbing stuff, and the interest extends to a series of bonus interviews.

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