Australian Film Annotated Bibliography
Reference works| Early cinema| Film revival 1970-| Films on Oz film| Scripts| Journals
This annotated bibliography begun by Tom O'Regan contains books and reference works that are useful in finding information about Australian Cinema.
Guides to Australian feature films
Pike, Andrew and Cooper, Ross. 1980. Australian Film 1900-1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production. Melbourne: Oxford UP.
This landmark study provides authoritative credits, production details including budgets, synopses, financing and release information (where available) and critical uptake of nearly all the Australian feature films to 1977. They also provide a retrospective assessment of films as the more significant the films get more extended treatments.
Murray, Scott ed 1995. Australian Film 1978-1994: A Survey of Theatrical Features. Melbourne: Oxford UP in association with the Australian Film Commission and Cinema Papers.
This book is designed to take up where Pike and Cooper left off. It too contains authoritative credits, synopses and release dates. But unlike Pike and Cooper there is little attention to critical uptake or the making and financing of the films (however further readings on films are provided). Each entry gets its page regardless of its significance and the principal thrust of the writing is critical evaluation by a diverse range of critics. The entries are as good as the critics who wrote them--which means some films are better served than others depending on who wrote the entries.
Tapp, Peter ed. and Sabine, James associate eds. 1995. Australian Feature Films. Melbourne: Informit, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and The Australian Catalogue of New Films & Videos Ltd.
This CD-Rom provides a still and production and cast credits for Australian feature films from 1900 to 1995. It has 25 quick time videos of titles such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Tale of Ruby Rose. Alongside this is a series of framing essays covering various decades of Australian filmmaking: 1930-70, the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s. There are also a number of framing essays covering some of the same period drawn from Ina Bertrand's excellent 1989 edited collection Cinema in Australia: A Documentary History. Kensington: UNSWP minus its mix of documents, posters, reviews and handbills.
Murray, Scott ed. 1994 Australian Cinema. St Leonards, Sydney: Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian Film Commission.
This coffee table book is part anthology and part reference work. As a reference work it is handy and reliable with its filmographies of major directors, credits and short synopses of 150 oft-cited films (mostly features) and a useful index. The book was developed to showcase a season of Australian cinema in Paris. Synoptic survey essays range over early cinema, documentary, landscape in film, the thematic concerns of filmmakers, Australian directors overseas, the short film and feature films after 1970. It provides a general introduction to the field.
Shirley, Graham and Adams, Brian. 1983 (revised edition 1990). Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years. Sydney: Angus & Robertson and Currency P.
Erudite, scholarly, authoritative, careful and accessible narrative history of Australian cinema until 1975. Their narrative ends with Sunday Too Far Away which, they argue, merged the formerly separate realms of artistry and commerce and so marked the beginnings of a new era in Australian cinema whereby hopes for a new state of art and industry co-existence was launched. There is not the level of interpretation or analysis found in other collections but the book has proved an invaluable resource for subsequent film writing. As many read this book through its index, I have included it under reference works.
Guides to writers, directors and actors
Atkinson, Ann, Knight, Linsay and McPhee, Margaret 1996. The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia, vol 1. Theatre, Film, Radio, Television. St Leonards, Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Although this publication provides information about much more than cinema, it does offer brief overviews of the careers of many of the actors, directors and writers in Australian feature filmmaking. The very nature of the collection's bringing together of broadcasting, film and theatre means that the book covers the diverse work across media formats of the writers, actors and directors involved in Australian film.
There are a number of edited collections offering general overviews of Australian cinema. These books all foreground revival feature filmmaking, but allow spaces for pre-1970 feature production and other kinds of cinema-- documentary, experimental, feminist, alternative and avant-garde filmmaking. They include:
Murray, Scott Ed. 1980. The New Australian Cinema. Melbourne: Nelson/Cinema Papers.
This edited collection foregrounds revival feature filmmaking (!970 - 1979) but includes space for the discussion of early feature production and other kinds of cinema (avant-garde. Chapter discussions revolve around either genre or thematic based readings of the films. Includes many original stills. Notable for essays by Tom Ryan on the historical film and Meaghan Morris on personal relationships and sexuality which influenced in sometimes unacknowledged ways much subsequent film criticism.
Moran Albert and O'Regan, Tom eds. 1985. An Australian Film Reader. Sydney: Currency P.
This book is a mix of new and republished material divided into four sections on cinema up to 1940, the documentary cinema mostly after 1945, the 1970s feature revival including the polemical writings on the need for a revival from and a final section on "alternative cinema"--avant-garde, super 8, feminist filmmaking and left filmmaking. In each section more recent essays are juxtaposed with commentaries, reviews, polemics, trade comment, contemporaneous film criticism, government reports, transcripts and sometimes interviews. The mix of the historical and the contemporary reassessment helps give a flavour of a dynamic film milieu evolving over time. Its large number of contributors provide the richest tapestry to date of Australian film writing. Some discuss individual titles, others the state of filmmaking, some are polemical, others neutral.
Moran, Albert and O'Regan, Tom 1989 The Australian Screen Ringwood, Vic: Penguin
Edited collection of especially commissioned essays. Part one discusses feature production in a chronological fashion with essays on the silent film, the family and colonialism in silent and early sound film, the straitened circumstances in the post-sound era, the ocker and period films, and the turn to genre filmmaking in the 1980s. The second part explores questions of independent film, women's films, Aboriginal representation, television drama and documentary. There is also a bibliography of published books, monographs and reports on Australian film. This book gives an overview of major developments in Australian film while providing a lively discussion of individual films.
Murray, Scott Ed. 1988. Back of Beyond: Discovering Australian Film and Television. Sydney: Australian Film Commission
This edited collection was written to accompany a major showcasing of Australian cinema in Los Angeles. Essays are divided into three strands - the first previewing the future of Australian film by looking specifically at women and then-upcoming filmmakers; the second examines some of the main thematic and creative concerns of filmmaking (including landscape and the depiction of Aborigines and Islanders) while the third explores some of the major filmmaking successes of the eighties with filmmaker interviews. Particularly useful is the critical assessment of revival filmmaking by Adrian Martin, the discussion of the blending of fact and fiction in Australian filmmaking by Graeme Turner.
Back to Top
Long, Chris Cinema Papers, various issues 1993-.
This essay series on Australian cinema history for the cinema journal Cinema Papers provides the most comprehensive and authoritative examination of early Australian cinema from 1894. Lavishly illustrated with handbills and stills, the series began in the January 1993 issue (n.91) and was up to its 18th instalment in April, 1996. Long restores the role of the documentary and in the process redates, reinterprets and reevaluates the international standing of early Australian cinema. Some of Long's work with Pat Laughren is also featured in Ken Berryman's 1995 edited work.
Berryman, Ken 1995 Screening the Past: Aspects of Early Australian Film. Canberra: National Film and Sound Archive.
Containing selected papers from the Sixth Australian History and Film Conference, the book ranges over the silent and the sound period up until 1960. There are a number of interpretative essays on the newly restored Raymond Longford film The Woman Suffers, the 1918 silent film reconstructed on video with a new music score in 1992. There are also discussions of early exhibition, government film production, Aborigines and film, and the relationship between vaudeville and film.
Cunningham, Stuart. 1991. Featuring Australian: The Cinema of Charles Chauvel. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Preeminent among the admittedly few Australian auteur studies, this study covers the celebrated filmmaker, Charles Chauvel, who sought to make Australia a character in film. The book covers his lengthy career spanning from silent cinema to television. It examines the way Chauvel positioned himself as a public actor attempting to enlist governments, private backing and the media to his various film projects. It includes a detailed textual analysis of Chauvel's filmography which includes and whose credits included 40,000 Horsemen, Jedda and Sons of Matthew.
Hall, Ken G. 1980. Australian Film: the Inside Story. Sydney: Summit Books.
The only account of the most successful of pre-1970 filmmakers, Ken G. Hall and the head of Cinesound, a newsreel and feature production house that was part of the Union Theatres chain. This self-professed, "showman" provides a clear and accessible account of his production values and the making of his films. It is mildly opinionated and at times self-serving as could be expected of memoirs of this type.
Tulloch, John. 1981. Legends on the Screen. Sydney: Currency P.
This illustrated work examines silent cinema and its social context during the period 1919-29, combining historical production studies and textual analysis utilising the structural analysis of the Australian silent narrative. It is a pity the author deliberately omitted a detailed textual discussion of the work of the McDonagh sisters (as the study indicated never eventuated). The book illuminates Australian cinema's complex negotiation with and implication in Hollywood cinema.
Tulloch, John 1982. Australian Cinema: Industry, Narrative and Meaning. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Takes up where Tulloch's previous book left off in that it considers the coming of sound. This book is a denser, markedly different book which takes the Australian cinema of this period as an opportunity to examine unequal cultural exchange and evaluate the utility of notions of cultural imperialism to describe the Australian situation.
O'Regan, Tom ed. 1987. Australian Film in the 1950s: Continuum. 1:1. Perth: Continuum.
This first issue of Continuum includes a range of essays which, in various ways, challenge the idea that 1950s was a time of cultural void in Australia. There are essays on the post-war documentary, film/theatre relations, Chauvel's television work and one of the few sustained appraisals of Cecil Holmes' 1950s film work and that of the Lee Robinson/ Chips Rafferty partnership. The issue is notable for Colin Johnson's (Mudrooroo) remarkable essay favourably but not uncritically comparing Chauvel's Jedda with Beresford's Fringe Dwellers and Schepisi's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith.
Albert Moran, 1991. Projecting Australia: Government Film Since 1945. Sydney: Currency Press.
This is a study of the Commonwealth government film unit (variously the Commonwealth Film Unit and Film Australia) which places its documentary films in an institutional milieu. From 1945 to the 1970s the film unit was the major site of continuous Australian film production.
Sabine, James ed. 1995. A Century of Australian Cinema. Melbourne: William Heinemann Australia
A stylish coffee table collection of essays mostly on the first seventy years of Australian filmmaking. Contains an array of beautifully reproduced historical photographs, stills, news clippings and period advertisements which give a feel for its subject. As well as films and film production, the book explores cinema architecture and non-theatrical exhibition and distribution. It is less an overview of filmmaking than an illumination of aspects of Australian film downplayed in previous scholarship. It deliberately complements previously published anthologies. The collection reaches into the present too with essays on the film revival and the future of cinema respectively.
Wright, Andre. 1986. Brilliant Careers: Women in Australian Cinema. Sydney: Pan Books.
Mostly focussing on silent and early sound cinema this book sought to reclaim the important role women played in front of and behind the camera. Particular attention is paid to Lotte Lyell's important role in the Longford films, Elsa Chauvel's partnership with Charles Chauvel and the experience of notable women actors of this period.
Back to Top
The Film Revival 1970-
Stratton, David. 1980. The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
A study of 1970s feature filmmaking organised principally into discussions of directors and the occasional producer. Stratton interviewed the directors and producers responsible for the decade's film output and bases his book on their comments. Contains valuable production and uptake information within a journalistic framework.
Dermody, Susan and Jacka, Elizabeth. 1988. The Screening of Australia, vol 2: Anatomy of a National Cinema. Sydney: Currency Press
This volume provides an analysis of the generic, aesthetic and thematic patterns of the films of the 1970s and early 1980s. Issues of national identity, popular history, sexuality and social mores are investigated and placed in a context of international influence. The authors argue that the 'riddle of national identity' and a 'middle of the road' approach to filmmaking during this period produced a mediocre cinema, leavened by a minor stream of eccentric works. A great number and range of film examples are cited and for this reason alone the work is a valuable resource. However the work is somewhat reductive in its approach and largely ignores the other film criticism which might have complicated its discussion of films.
Dermody, Susan and Elizabeth Jacka Eds. 1988. The Imaginary Industry: Australian Film in the late '80s. Sydney: AFTRS.
In many ways a continuation of the authors' two previous volumes, with an update to the late 1980s when the tax incentive scheme for film production (10BA) had been recently dismantled and the Film Finance Corporation was being set up. A range of chapters contextualise the changing circumstances of Australian filmmaking. There are chapters: questioning the Australianist bases of film policy, elaborating more eccentric films, studies of the two Crocodile Dundee films and the Kennedy-Miller television operations.
Stratton, David. 1990. The Avacado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry. Sydney: Pan Macmillan.
An update of Stratton's earlier book, this time dealing with 1980s filmmaking. Offers anecdotal information on the production of the films, some discussion with filmmakers and the author's own views of the films without striving to be as critically comprehensive as the earlier work.
McFarlane, Brian and Geoff Mayer. 1992. New Australian Cinema: Sources and Parallels in American and British Films. Cambridge and Oakleigh, Vic: Cambridge UP.
This work questions widespread notions about the film revival, and seeks to connect it with the history of film in Australia rather than conceiving of it as a set of new circumstances. There are lengthy comparisons between 1940s and 50s British cinema and Australian 'revival' cinema, especially in terms of how they both inadequately responded to the Hollywood challenge.
Filmmakers and filmmaking
Hamilton, Peter and Mathews, Sue. 1986. American Dreams: Australian Movies. Sydney: Currency Press.
Inspired by the high profile of Australian cinema in the USA in the early to mid 1980s, this book is a series of interviews with a variety of key industry personnel from both sides of the Pacific in a bid to account for, or at least describe, this success. The title of the work is based on the repetition throughout the research that, seen through American eyes, Australian movies restate American myths - inevitably an American imagining. It makes the claim that the American success of the Australian new-wave re-inspired the American independent scene.
Lovell, Patricia. 1995 No Picnic: an Autobiography. Sydney: Pan Macmillan.
This autobiography of a leading revival producer provides an insight into the operation--making and breaking of careers--in the 1970s and 1980s. Lovell is especially significant as the producer mainly responsible for bringing Picnic at Hanging Rock and later Gallipoli to the screen.
Mathews, Sue. 1984. 35 mm Dreams. Conversations with Five Directors about the Australian Film Revival. Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin.
One of the few extended discussions with prominent feature film directors - George Miller, Gillian Armstrong, Fred Schepisi, Peter Weir and John Duigan. They talk about their histories, their profession, their views of filmmaking and their place within the industry, both locally and internationally.
Women and film
Blonski, Annette, Barbara Creed and Freda Freiberg eds. 1987. Don't Shoot Darling!: Women's Independent Filmmaking in Australia. Richmond, Melbourne: Greenhouse Publications.
A comprehensive overview of 1970s and early 1980s feminist short, experimental and documentary filmmaking. It includes statements by filmmakers, discussions of the funding environments and policies affecting feminist filmmaking and extended critical essays on the films.
Cox, Eva and Sharon Laura. 1992. "What do I wear for a Hurricane?" Women in Australian Film, Television, Video and Radio Industries. Australian Film Commission and the National Working Party on the Portrayal of Women in the Media. November.
An important and detailed report of the roles available to women in front of and behind the camera in Australian film and television production in the early 1990s. It was designed to provide a snapshot of the industry for women. It identified just how far an industry sometimes thought to be "woman friendly" has to go before gender equity is reached.
Representing / imaging/ experiencing Australian cinema
Gibson, Ross. 1992. South of the West: Postcolonialism and the Narrative Construction of Australia. Bloomington: Indiana UP.
Gibson situates Australian revival filmmaking within a long tradition of writing, painting, photography and criticism which sees itself as coping with and explaining life in an Australia oddly doubled as both European and 'other-wordly'. He sees evidence in contemporary films such as the Mad Max cycle of a move towards seeing the country as more than a problem or a picture but as a space of adaptive accommodation in which change and accommodation is to be celebrated. Gibson self-consciously sees himself responding to an emerging post-invasion, postcolonial Australian identity.
O'Regan, Tom. 1996. Australian National Cinema. London: Routledge
This ambitious book places Australian cinema as part of the international conversation of national cinemas. It emphasises the loose and mobile threads connecting the films, filmmaking, markets, criticism, policy, government and appreciation. It stresses both its international connections and its internal diversity. O'Regan connects the structural circumstance of Australian cinema as a medium-sized English language cinema and draws out the textual consequences of this circumstance. The book combines a film studies interest in the local filmmaking milieu with a cultural studies emphasis on social and cultural issues. Consequently, it includes chapters on critical value, diversity and unity, cultural transfer, and a consideration of Australian cinema's distinctiveness alongside chapters on social and cultural cleavages of gender, race, ethnicity, region and society.
Turner, Graeme. 1986, 1993. National Fictions: Literature, film and the construction of Australian narrative, Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Now into its second edition this book connects the filmic and literary traditions reading the former through the latter. It establishes characteristics of Australian fictional narratives and locates their interpretative history. Chapters are thematically organised to deal with nature and society, the self, individualism and character and the nation. The book has occasioned much critical debate and is a widely used text-book.
Morris, Meaghan. 1988 The Pirate's Fiancee: Feminism, Reading, Postmodernism London/NY: Verso.
There is only one essay in this book directly related to Australian cinema, an essay on Crocodile Dundee, 'Tooth and Claw: Tales of Survival'. This influential essay is a discussion of the relations between cultural products and identity in this and other Australian films. Notable for its discussion of issues of derivation and the play of genre. Genre is shown to be parodied and pirated serving the purposes of cultural assertiveness and economic pragmatism. Another notable essay by Morris on Australian cinema is her 1993 essay 'Fear and the Family Sedan' in The Politics of Everyday Fear, Brian Massumi (ed) Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota P. which offers a discussion of space, mobility and anxiety in Australian cinema.
Jennings, Karen. 1993. Sites of Difference: Cinematic Representations of Aboriginality and Gender. Melbourne: AFI.
The book is a study of the vicissitudes of the depiction of Aboriginal women in mainstream features and the alternative traditions emerging in usually collaborative documentaries and in independent filmmaking. It has an extended discussion of Tracey Moffatt's short film work-most particularly Nice Coloured Girls and Night Cries..
Langton, Marcia. 1993. `Well, I heard it on the radio and I saw it on the television...' An Essay for the Australian Film Commission on the politics and aesthetics of filmmaking by and about Aboriginal people and things. Sydney: AFC.
This important monograph ranges over the conditions of production and distribution of film and video involving Aboriginal and Islanders to criticism of the image-making of a number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal filmmakers, photographers and artist. It functions as both cultural criticism and policy document for the Australian Film Commission. This indigenous writer poses her work as anti-colonial in a move to distinguish it from celebratory post-colonial notions. She stresses the importance of Aboriginal and Islander access to the means of production for self-representation while maintaining that Aboriginal people do not necessarily make 'better' representations of themselves than do non-Aboriginal filmmakers. Rather, she argue for a shifting grounds of intersubjectivity and dialogue more on Aboriginal terms than to do date.
Industry and economics
Curtis, Rosemary and Shelley Spriggs eds. 1994. Get the Picture: Essential Data on Australian Film, Television and Video. 3rd Edition. Sydney: Australian Film Commission.
A comprehensive collection of data from the Research & Information team at the Australian Film Commission on the Australian film industry. The three editions (1989, 1992, 1994) offer a comprehensive essay surveys reviewing recent developments, production, distribution and marketing and critical/audience reception patterns. There are ample film production, exhibition and distribution statistics and there is a useful bibliography of writing on Australian film and television. The series provides an up-to-date and accurate overview of the industry.
Dermody, Susan and Jacka, Elizabeth. 1987. The Screening of Australia, vol 1: Anatomy of a Film Industry. Sydney: Currency Press
This volume considers the industrial context of Australian cinema from the 1970s revival to the mid 1980s, tracing the forces that motivated the revival, the government policies instituted, the bureaucratic structures and union policies in relation to the revived industry. It discusses how a combination of nationalism, funding structures and distribution have influenced the content of Australian films over the period. Australian cinema is also considered in an international context.
Molloy, Simon and Barry Burgan. 1993. The Economics of Film andTelevision in Australia. Sydney: Australian Film Commission.
Two economists' view of film and television in Australia. Part of an emerging literature on audio-visual economics and Australia's place in the international film trade. Provides a good overview of the economic structure and market environments in which the Australian film production industry operates.
Reid, Mary Anne. 1993. Long Shots to Favourites: Australian Cinema Successes in the 90s. Sydney: AFC.
This background examination of three unexpected film successes of the early 1990s (Proof, Strictly Ballroom, Romper Stomper) takes the reader through the development of the respective film properties, the financing, the sales and marketing, and the release strategies for the films. It is useful for its case studies of Australian film marketing and positioning.
Back to Top
Films On Australian Film
Camera Natura dir. Ross Gibson, 1984. Celebrated short film exploring landscape preoccupations in Australia features, documentaries, television advertising and art.
Two films on early Australian cinema are The Pictures that Moved (dir Alan Anderson 1968); and The Passionnate Industry (dir. Joan Long, 1973. Film Australia).
Celluloid Heroes: 100 Years of Australian Filmmaking. (Dir Robert Francis, Film Australia. 1995).
Change of Face (dir. Franco di Chiera SBS 1988) examines the way in which actors have been stereotyped by ethnicity in Australian film and television.
Back to Top
Scripts of Australian films are published by University of Queensland Press (St Lucia, Queensland) and to, Currency Press (Sydney, NSW). These usually contain a statement from the author and sometimes reviews. University of Queensland Press titles include: The Big Steal, Bliss, My Brilliant Career, Proof, Strictly Ballroom, Sweetie.
Currency Press titles include: Dingo, The Sum of Us, Bad Boy Bubby, Angel Baby, The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Muriel's Wedding, Dead Heart, Cosi: the Screenplay. Currency's web address is http://www.currency.com.au/
Crofts, Stephen. 1993. Identification, Gender and Genre in Film: The Case of Shame with Shame: The Screenplay by Beverly Blankenship and Michael Brindley. Melbourne: Australian Film Institute, The Moving Image, n. 2.
This book is unusual in that it provides both the script and a critical commentary on the film which overshadows it somewhat. Shame is something of a minor classic in Australian cinema in part because it is one of the few high-profile exploitation films that is evidently politically progressive.
Back to Top
Cinema Papers sees itself as the journal of record for the Australian feature film industry.
Metro is published by the Australian Teachers of Media and regularly features articles on Australian cinema as well as producing study guides on Australian and international film titles.
Encore is the broadcast and film industry's trade paper.
Media International Australia published out of the Australian, Film, Television and Radio School is designed to provide a space for dialogue between academic and industry perspectives on communication, broadcasting and film.
Continuum: the Australian Journal of Media and Culture is a thematically based cultural studies journal with a primary focus on screen media.
Original HTML author 1997: Tom O'Regan. HTML modified 8 February 1997 by Jeremy Barth. Disclaimer Notice.
Garry Gillard started to work on this file 22 June 2001.