July 8

AT HOME IN THE WORLD: CECIL HOLMES, ACTIVIST FILMMAKER

Although born in New Zealand, Cecil Holmes (1921–1994) is one of the most significant and ambitious filmmakers to work in Australia during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

A dedicated leftist, his work consistently demonstrated a humanist commitment to the socially disenfranchised, ranging from the underlying capitalist conditions that force decent citizens into bushranging and stealing to the social and economic conditions confronting Indigenous communities in contemporary Australia (the latter works often made in collaboration with his wife, anthropologist and activist Sandra Le Brun Holmes). In the 1950s, Holmes briefly moved from his background in documentary to feature-film production, but all of his work shares a deep concern for social justice, place and the precarious fate of displaced and dispossessed peoples in the modern world.

Although he is often regarded as a maverick director who struggled to make films, Holmes consistently produced challenging work for a variety of governmental, corporate and philanthropic organisations, as well as at the behest of such individuals as Australian leftist author Frank Hardy.

July 8

7:00pm THREE IN ONE
Cecil Holmes (1957) 89 mins – G

Holmes’ opus is one of the most significant films made in Australia before the 1970s revival. A profoundly independent work that robustly demonstrates Holmes’ filmmaking capabilities as well as his qualities as a cinephile and political artist (Henry Lawson and Frank Hardy are both sources), it reframes the common theme of “mateship” within explicitly leftist contexts and provides an indelible portrait of Australia from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Preceded by
Words for Freedom
Cecil Holmes (1956) 19 mins – Unclassified 15 +.

Holmes’ fugue of Henry Lawson, union chronicle and folktale provides a history of the Australian workers press.

Prints of both films courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.


9:00pm CAPTAIN THUNDERBOLT AND OTHER TALES
Cecil Holmes (1948-1968) 99 mins – Unclassified 15 +

This program covers a range of Holmes’ work in documentary and fiction, moving from his pioneering films for the New Zealand National Film Unit such as The Coaster (1948) to his groundbreaking and socially committed work with Indigenous communities, The Islanders (1968). Its centrepiece is his bold and visually adventurous first feature, Captain Thunderbolt (1953), an expansive and exciting account of the social, political and economic conditions that lead to bushranging. Only surviving in its edited 16mm TV version, it provides an urgent reminder of the crucial role of the archive.

Prints courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia and ACMI Collections.

To be introduced by film scholar and Captain Thunderbolt devotee David Donaldson, inaugural director of the Sydney Film Festival.

February 5
OPENING NIGHT

February 12 – February 26
VITTORIO DE SICA: CINEMA, ITALIAN STYLE

March 4 – March 18
LIGHT AND SHADOW: THE MERCURIAL STARDOM OF MARLENE DIETRICH

March 23 – April 6
CAST A DARK SHADOW: THE BEAUTIFUL SADNESS OF DIRK BOGARDE

April 13 – April 29
THE BIG CARNIVAL: THE FILMS OF BILLY WILDER

May 6 – May 20
“LIFE’S PARADE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS”: DOUGLAS SIRK

May 27 – June 10
WILDFLOWERS: DANCING, DESIRE AND FREEDOM IN THE FILMS OF GILLIAN ARMSTRONG

June 17 – July 1
DRIFTING STATES: THE FILMS OF APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL

July 8
AT HOME IN THE WORLD: CECIL HOLMES, ACTIVIST FILMMAKER

July 15 – July 29
HIROSHI SHIMIZU: FORGOTTEN MASTER

September 2 – September 16
JEAN COCTEAU: THE POETRY OF DREAMS

September 23 – September 30
QUEERING THE ARCHIVE: THE CINEMA OF BARBARA HAMMER

October 7 – October 14
GALLOWS BACCHANALIAS, FRACTIOUS FAIRY-TALES AND THE RULE OF THREE: THE CINEMA OF JURAJ JAKUBISKO

October 21 – November 4
REACHING BEYOND THE FRAME: THE POETIC CINEMA OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI

November 11 – November 25
BORSCHT, SAUERKRAUT, GOULASH AND LEMONADE: AN INTRODUCTION TO OSTERNS AND RED WESTERNS

December 2 – December 16
THE LAND IS OURS: YOUSSEF CHAHINE