James Ricketson

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James Ricketson
Born1949 (age 68–69)
Alma materAustralian Film and Television School
OccupationFilm director
Notable credit(s)
Criminal chargeEspionage
Criminal penaltySix years in custody (sentenced under Cambodian law)
Criminal statusPardoned
  • 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 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.[1] 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.[2][3] On 31 August he was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison.[4] It was announced on 21 September 2018 that Cambodian authorities had pardoned Ricketson for the alleged offence.[5]

Film career[edit]

Ricketson studied at the Australian Film and Television School and has made a number of features and documentaries.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] http://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/fact-sheet-1/

Select credits[edit]


  • AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Blackfellas (1994)
  • AACTA Award for Best Film, Reflections (1973)
  • Alan Stout Award for Best Short Film, Reflections (1973)


  1. ^ Press, Australian Associated (2017-06-10). "Australian film-maker charged with espionage in Cambodia". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  2. ^ Handley, Erin (16 July 2018). "James Ricketson secures a trial delay until after Cambodian election". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Cambodian judges question accused spy James Ricketson's links to Australian Government". ABC News. 2018-08-17. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  4. ^ Handley, Erin (31 August 2018). "Australian James Ricketson found guilty of espionage in Cambodia". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  5. ^ "James Ricketson: Cambodia pardons Australian filmmaker jailed for espionage". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  6. ^ David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p136
  7. ^ "ABC OPEN: Man on a Sydney wire || From Project: 500 Words: I Was There". open.abc.net.au. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  8. ^ "History of the ADG - Part 1". Screen Director. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  9. ^ "Film-maker James Ricketson takes legal action against Screen Australia - Mumbrella". Mumbrella. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  10. ^ Ratana, Uong (2014-04-03). "Filmmaker 'guilty' in conflict with church". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 2018-08-19.

External links[edit]