October 3

CONTESTING HISTORY: BICENTENNIAL LEGACIES

The Bicentennial celebrations marking the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788, and the subsequent European occupation and invasion of Australia, have long been contested in terms of what they can tell us about national identity, the multicultural makeup of Australian society, inequality, the sometimes jingoistic vision of history peddled by various institutions, and the troubled legacy of these events and actions for Indigenous Australians.

But the Bicentennial also provided an opportunity for many different forms of cultural expression as well as probing reflections on Australian history, society and culture. These included various initiatives that supported cultural work that both celebrated and questioned the legacy of the 200-year European presence in Australia.

This program reflecting on the 30th anniversary of these events, features a selection of independent documentaries that explore this history and cultural moment in a wide variety of ways, ranging from the Pat Fiske-produced Australia Daze, which documents the events, celebrations and protests taking place on “Australia Day”, to Tom Zubrycki’s controversial Amongst Equals, a partisan but objective documentary originally commissioned by the ACTU and funded by the Bicentennial Authority to provide an audio-visual history of the Australian trade-union movement.

This program presents a small selection of work – including John Hughes’ speculative All That is Solid – that was instigated or inspired by the Bicentennial, focusing on the urgent work undertaken in independent documentary and revealing the complex and conflicted responses to the contested events of 1988.

This program is co-curated by John Hughes and Adrian Danks.

October 3

* PLEASE NOTE: This screening begins at 6.30pm.

6:30pm – AUSTRALIA DAZE
Pat Fiske (1988) 75 mins – Unclassified 15 +*

Overall directed by Fiske, this panoramic “tour de force” (Sylvia Lawson) covering the Bicentennial “celebrations” on January 26, 1988 brings together footage shot by over 20 different crews (helmed by filmmakers such as John Hughes and Jeni Thornley) throughout Australia to document diverse individual responses to the day’s events, protests and jingoistic ceremonies. Also drawing upon mass media coverage, this deftly edited “time-capsule” compilation finds its most pointed and critical moments in the contrast between the decadent celebrations of the super-rich on Sydney Harbour and the timely protests by various Aboriginal communities. “This movie is a triumph” (Bill Collins).

Courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.


8:00pm – AMONGST EQUALS
Tom Zubrycki (1991) 93 mins – Unclassified 15 +*

Zubrycki’s controversial, still provocative and rarely screened documentary about the Australian trade-union movement was originally commissioned by the ACTU and funded by the Bicentennial Authority to provide an audio-visual history stretching from the birth of the movement in the mid-1850s and the formation of the Australian Labor Party to key events like the 1891 shearers’ strike and the 1988 Bicentenary. This pro-union but objective history, focusing on the struggle between capital and labour, and featuring the candid testimony of many unionists, was refused sanction by the ACTU and has long languished in obscurity aside from some “illegal” screenings in the early 1990s.


9:45pm – ALL THAT IS SOLID
John Hughes (1988) 54 mins – Unclassified 15 +*

Partly funded as a Bicentennial commission through the University of Queensland Art Museum and the ABC, Hughes’ speculative, essayistic documentary is an examination of the future of Australia in light of the processes of post-industrialisation, Walter Benjamin’s ruinous “angel of history” and Marx’s quixotic vision of modernity. Mixing together documentary and fiction, interviews and sketchy Brechtian set pieces, this state-of-the-nation mosaic draws on the forms of contemporary TV as well as the profoundly “historical” work of Kluge, Godard and Straub-Huillet to provide a consciously parodic and bracingly fragmentary postmodernist vision.

February 7–21
JEANNE MOREAU: THE FACE OF THE NOUVELLE VAGUE

February 28 – March 14
“I AM HERE AND I DON’T KNOW WHY”: THE FREE-FORM FILMMAKING OF JOHN CASSAVETES

March 21 – April 2
TWISTED NERVE: BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR OF THE 1960s AND 1970s

April 9 – April 25
FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT, CHILD OF THE CINEMA

May 2
GIRLS IN UNIFORM: LANDMARKS OF LESBIAN CINEMA

May 9
COLONIAL LEGACIES – THE VIEW FROM THERE. A COLLABORATION WITH THE HUMAN RIGHTS ARTS & FILM FESTIVAL.

May 16 – May 23
WITHOUT COMPROMISE: THOM ANDERSEN’S AMERICA

May 30 – June 13
PLAYING SOLO: THE SADLY BEAUTIFUL CAREER OF MONTGOMERY CLIFT

June 20 – July 4
THE STORY OF WOMEN: THE EXTRAORDINARY CAREER OF KINUYO TANAKA

July 11 – July 25
THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES: GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM AFTER CALIGARI

August 22 – September 5
BEYOND LEONE: THE RADICAL LAWLESSNESS OF THE SPAGHETTI WESTERN

September 12 – September 26
ORIGINAL SINS: RESISTANCE AND FEMINISM IN THE AVANT-GARDE CINEMA OF VĚRA CHYTILOVÁ

October 3
CONTESTING HISTORY: BICENTENNIAL LEGACIES

October 10 – October 31
ON DANGEROUS GROUND: IDA LUPINO, TRAILBLAZER

November 7 – November 21
ECHOES FROM TAIWAN: THE MAJOR WORKS OF EDWARD YANG

November 28 – December 5
ON BODY AND SOUL: THE PASSION ACCORDING TO AMIEL COURTIN-WILSON

December 12 – December 19
ANARCHY AND ECSTASY: THE INTERMEDIATE CINEMA OF DUŠAN MAKAVEJEV