A Year of Film at the Australian Mediatheque

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Thursday 22 December 2011.

Patrick image The Eclipse image Back to the Brickworks image Chez Les Sauvages Australiens image Some of the Attractions at the St Kilda Fair image The Movie Show image Australia Ahead In Fashion Designs image

So we have come to the close of the second year at the Australian Mediatheque, a collaboration between ACMI and the National Film and Sound Archive. Aside from the scores of moving image content available through NFSA and ACMI’s vast collections, we have managed to add over 100 titles and 12 packages to the View On-Demand system, making these titles instantly available, every day of the week.

Here are some of our top picks from the range of newsreels, shorts, features and television programs added in 2011.

The 1978 feature Patrick, directed by the late Richard Franklin, has all the ingredients of a great Aussie thriller: sinister hospital staff, a pretty nurse and mad telekinetic powers, all put together to make you giggle and scream simultaneously. Come in and watch this Ozploitation classic before the proposed remake hits the big screen.

The Eclipse: the courtship of the sun and moon is typical of the fantastical style of Georges Méliès, combined with a hilariously imaginative and erotically-charged climax. Given it was produced in 1907, it never ceases to impress.

Back to the Brickworks (2010) is a look back at the post-war reconstruction period in Australia which relied so heavily on immigrant labour. A rare insight into the lives of these workers using historic footage and contemporary interviews, combined with some colourful Australian-immigrant vernacular.

Chez Les Sauvages Australiens is an amazing insight into the European colonizers’ gaze on Aboriginal culture in 1917. It includes incredible footage of traditional body scarring of a warrior to signify ceremony and rank, as well as provide body armour protection.

Some of the Attractions at the St Kilda Fair (circa 1923) features some great footage of good old-fashioned fun from the 1920s. The carpet slide is a current-day OH&S nightmare with mats flying in the air, one man surfing the carpet, a large number of people launching down the slide at the same time with no consideration for possible collision at the bottom. The helper at the base of the slide is working overtime and the fashion is great!

In Romper Stomper review: The Movie Show (1992), you get to see Margaret and David butt heads spectacularly, yet remaining Jane Austen polite in their passionate disagreement about this film.

After World War II, Australian fashion designers made their presence felt with world-class runway shows displaying leading-edge designs. Australia Ahead In Fashion Designs (1947) is a short newsreel clip of an event showcasing such divine creations as the ‘harem satin lounge suit’, a must for the modern woman! The French-accented commentary is delightfully kitsch, starting with an “oo la la” – loads of fun in under three minutes.

It is worth mentioning that these films have been lovingly picked by the very same ACMI and NFSA staff that greet you when you come in to the Mediatheque. Feel free to tell them your favourites, and whether you agree with their choices.

The Australian Mediatheque (and ACMI) is closed on Christmas Day but is open through the rest of the festive season.