James Ricketson

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James Ricketson
James Staniforth Ricketson [1]

1949 (age 7172)
Alma mater Australian Film and Television School
Occupation Film director
Notable credit(s)
Criminal charge(s) Espionage
Criminal penaltySix years in custody (sentenced under Cambodian law)
Criminal statusPardoned
Relatives Staniforth Ricketson (grandfather) [2]
  • AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Blackfellas (1994)
  • AACTA Award for Best Film, Reflections (1973)
  • Alan Stout Award for Best Short Film, Reflections (1973)

James Staniforth Ricketson (born 1949) is an Australian film director who, in June 2017, was arrested while flying a drone at a Cambodia National Rescue Party rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and charged with espionage, a charge he denies. [3] He was held in Prey Sar prison and his trial began in a Phnom Penh court on 16 August 2018, with character testimony from Australian film director Peter Weir. [4] [5] On 31 August he was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison. [6] It was announced on 21 September 2018 that Cambodian authorities had pardoned Ricketson for the offence. [7]


Film career

Ricketson studied at the Australian Film and Television School and has made a number of features and documentaries. [8]

In 1973 Ricketson filmed and helped to organise Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between the two north pylons of Sydney Harbour Bridge. A short film of the walk was released on DVD with Man On Wire, the Academy Award-winning documentary on Petit's World Trade Center Twin Towers walk. [9]

Ricketson has directed three feature films, Third Person Plural (1978), Candy Regentag (1989), Blackfellas (1994). His documentaries include Reflections (1973), Roslyn and Blagica Everyone Needs a Friend (1979), Born in Soweto (1994), Sleeping with Cambodia (1997), Backpacking Australia (2001), and Viva (2004).

In 1981 he became one of the founding members of the Australian Directors Guild. [10] In the same year he directed one of the four episodes of the award-winning Australian miniseries Women of the Sun . In July 2012 it was announced he was suing Screen Australia. [11]

In 2014 Ricketson was fined six-million Cambodian riel (A$1,500) and given a suspended two year prison sentence by a Phnom Penh court for threatening to broadcast accusations that a local branch of the Brisbane-based Citipointe Church sold children. [12] https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/fact-sheet-1/

Select credits


Personal life

Ricketson is the grandson of stockbroker Staniforth Ricketson. [2] He has a son, Jesse, and is a surrogate father to Roxanne Holmes whom he met "while researching a film project about street kids" in the 1980s. [13]

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  1. Chheng, Niem (24 September 2018). "Ricketson family express 'eternal gratitude' for filmmaker's pardon". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  2. 1 2 "The scarlet man". The Saturday Paper. 10 February 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  3. Press, Australian Associated (10 June 2017). "Australian film-maker charged with espionage in Cambodia". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  4. Handley, Erin (16 July 2018). "James Ricketson secures a trial delay until after Cambodian election". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  5. "Cambodian judges question accused spy James Ricketson's links to Australian Government". ABC News. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  6. Handley, Erin (31 August 2018). "Australian James Ricketson found guilty of espionage in Cambodia". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  7. "James Ricketson: Cambodia pardons Australian filmmaker jailed for espionage". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  8. David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p136
  9. "ABC OPEN: Man on a Sydney wire || From Project: 500 Words: I Was There". open.abc.net.au. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  10. "History of the ADG - Part 1". Screen Director. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  11. "Film-maker James Ricketson takes legal action against Screen Australia - Mumbrella". Mumbrella. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  12. Ratana, Uong (3 April 2014). "Filmmaker 'guilty' in conflict with church". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  13. "Fighting for a father's freedom". ABC News. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2020.