19 October

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 produced a wide range of 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.

Wednesday 19 October

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 folk tale provides a history of the Australian workers press.

35mm and 16mm prints of both films made available by the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia. Words for Freedom courtesy of Amanda Holmes Tzafrir, Cecil Holmes Estate.

CTEQ ANNOTATION
G’day Comrade: Cecil Holmes’s Three in One (1956)
by Adrian Danks


9:05pm 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 Holmes’ 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 also provides an urgent reminder of the crucial role of the archive.

Prints made available by the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia and ACMI Collections. Courtesy Amanda Holmes Tzafrir, Cecil Holmes Estate.

To be introduced by film scholar and Captain Thunderbolt devotee, David Donaldson, inaugural director of the Sydney Film Festival. Read his article Looking for Captain Thunderbolt (Cecil Holmes, 1953).

CTEQ ANNOTATIONS
Hard Labour: Cecil Holmes’s Captain Thunderbolt (1953)
by Adrian Danks

“There’s meaning in a cup of tea”: Cecil Holmes’ Weekly Review no. 374: The Coaster (1948)
by Adrian Danks

7 February
OPENING NIGHT 2024

7 February – 21 February
FROM THE BOULEVARDS OF PARIS TO THE DOCKS OF CHERBOURG: LANDMARKS OF THE FRENCH FILM MUSICAL

28 February – 13 March
"LIVING MAY BE TRAGIC, BUT LIFE ISN'T": THE FILMS OF THE TAVIANI BROTHERS

20 March – 3 April
IN THE AFTERGLOW: THE MERCURIAL STARDOM OF GLORIA GRAHAME

Wednesday 10 April
MAN OF THE CINEMA: A TRIBUTE TO JOHN FLAUS AT 90

17 April – 1 May
KEEP ROLLING: ANN HUI'S COUNTER-CINEMA

8 May – 22 May
"ALL ART IS ONE": THE VISIONARY CINEMA OF MICHAEL POWELL AND EMERIC PRESSBURGER

29 May – 12 June
WRITING WITH HER EYES: SUSO CECCHI D'AMICO, SCREENWRITER AS OBSERVER

19 June – 3 July
THE HOUSE THAT MOHSEN BUILT: THE FILMS OF SAMIRA MAKHMALBAF, MARZIEH MESHKINI AND MOHSEN MAKHMALBAF

10 July – 24 July
THE PAIN OF LIVING: JEAN EUSTACHE, BEING CINEMA

Wednesday 31 July
BETWEEN THE WAVE AND REVOLUTION: THE RETURN OF RIVETTE’S LEGENDARY L’AMOUR FOU

4–18 September
BLIND BEASTS, RED ANGELS AND HOODLUM SOLDIERS: THE IRRESISTIBLE CINEMA OF YASUZO MASUMURA

25 September – 9 October
JIŘÍ MENZEL: MAKING COMEDIES IS NO FUN

16–23 October
OF MEN AND MONSTERS: THE CINEMA OF NIKOS KOUNDOUROS

Wednesday 30 October
CONTESTED HISTORIES: THE DOCUMENTARIES OF JENI THORNLEY

6–20 November
THE FIRST AND LAST OF ENGLAND: THE QUEER LEGACIES OF DEREK JARMAN

Wednesday 27 November
PARADING THE PAST: RECENT ERNST LUBITSCH RESTORATIONS

4–11 December
THE SEEDS OF CHANGE: THE DOCUMENTARIES OF TOM ZUBRYCKI

Wednesday 18 December
CARLTON AND BEYOND: THE MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY FILM SOCIETY IN THE 1960s