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Can art stop a bullet? 

History is a depressing pattern of bad judgements and unnecessary wars. Now things have come full circle.  The fear that gripped the world during the Cold War is creating a familiar chill again.  Rational voices are either ignored, mocked or attacked. These restraining voices are often the voices of art. 


Wars are never started by mentally stable people.


Why do oppressive governments first try to silence artists? 

What is it about art that frightens warmongers so much? 

Can Art temper violence when politics and reason fails? 

Can art stop bullets? 


Throughout his life, William Kelly has suspected that art has a profound ability to break through the vicious rage, that narrows minds, to create calming insights.


Through the voices of some of the world’s most socially engaged artists and thinkers, "Can Art Stop a Bullet" explores these questions in the search for an alternative path for humanity. 

the film
The cast
Bill Kelly


Internationally renowned artist 

William Kelly is a human rights artist and peace activist. Having grown up in Seneca Indian Country in New York State, calling the Basque Country his second ‘home’ and now living in the land of the Yorta Yorta Nation in Australia, he is committed to issues impacting ‘first nations’ peoples. He has been a gang member, steelworker, truck driver and former Dean of the School of Art of the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. 


He is just as comfortable giving arts workshops and guidance to hardened prisoners as he is to lecturing students at Yale, Cambridge and Oxford.  His art speaks about human rights, reconciliation and social justice.  He exhibits worldwide but is hardly a darling of the curatorial elite; as he continually questions the status quo and upsets many with his calls for social and structural change. 


William Kelly has been called the ‘moral conscience’ of Australian Art. He is a rare artist in that for him there is no line between life and art.  As such he has been honoured with a “Courage of Conscience Award” from the Peace Abbey, Boston, USA (other recipients include Martin Luther King Jr., Dalai Lama, Rosa Parks, and John Lennon), an Australian Violence Prevention Award from the Prime Minister, is an Honorary Life Member of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and the recipient of the Coat of Arms of the city of Guernica (Basque Country, Spain).  


The monumental work featured in this documentary “Peace or War/The Big Picture” was completed in 2016.  An image in it, ‘The Foundation’ that supports ‘bridge building’ is comprised of names of those whose lives and works have influenced him – from Picasso, Daniel Berrigan, Kathe Kollwitz, and Kurt Vonnegut to Martin Sheen, Neil Young and the Midnight Oil.


William Kelly talks to artists, musicians and thinkers from across the globe

Martin Sheen (USA)

Yanagi Yukinori (Japan)

Dr Rama Mani (India)

Gelarah Pour (Iran)

A C Grayling (United Kingdom)

Sasha Grishin (Australia)

Luis Iriondo (Spain)

Don Brown (Japan)

Rose Lester (Australia)​

Ian McLean (Australia)

Halina Wagowska (Poland)

Sarah Sentilles (USA)

Raymond Watson (Ireland)

Entang Wiharso (Indonesia)

Cocovan (France)

John Keane (United Kingdom)

Zakia Bassou (United Kingdom)

J.D.Mittmann (Australia)

Rita Duffy (Ireland)

Alex Caroscosa (Spain)

Ben mcKeown (Australia)

Madeline King (Australia)

Emmy O'Shaughnessy (UK)

Peter Sparling (USA)

Iraxte Momiotio Astarkia (Spain)

Douglas Kellner (USA)

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