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AUSTRALIAN CINEMA. How to ‘think’ Australian cinema…. 1. Australian cinema as a national cinema. 2. Australian cinema as international cinema. References : Collins & Davis (2004) Australian Cinema after Mabo Dermody & Jacka (1988) The Screening of Australia Vol 2

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How to ‘think’ Australian cinema…

1. Australian cinema as a national cinema

2. Australian cinema as international cinema



Collins & Davis (2004) Australian Cinema after Mabo

Dermody & Jacka (1988) The Screening of Australia Vol 2

Jacka (1997) ‘Film’ in Cunningham & Turner, The Media in Australia

O’Regan (1996) Australian National Cinema

O’Regan (2001) in your Reader

Turner (1997) in your Reader

Verhoeven (2002) ‘Film and Video’ in Cunningham & Turner, The Media & Communications in Australia


Australian cinema as a national cinema

  • Recurrent themes, styles, character types, settings, narrative patterns

2.A particular industry context – production, policy, distribution & exhibition, audience etc.

3. Cinema understood in relation to the national culture, national identity – by audiences, critics, film-makers, policy-makers etc.

4. A ‘national cinema’ in relation to Hollywood


Australian cinema as international cinema

1. Not a national cinema developing independently of Hollywood, but a cinema which is part of international cinema.

2. Internationalisation of film production and marketing -- co-production, ‘runaway productions’;

3. Australian actors, directors, cameramen, designers etc in Hollywood

4. Australian films drawing on mainstream or ‘trans-national’ genres – creative interaction between Australian and international/Hollywood styles


O’Regan (1996) – Australian films in relation to Hollywood: ‘playing up’ or ‘playing down’ Australianness

O’Regan (2001) – ‘local’/national multicultural film – critical nationalism (Head On); versus a ‘universal’/trans-national film (Dark City)

Dermody & Jacka (1988) – two discourses: ‘cultural nationalism’ (socially concerned, distinctively Australian, culturally worthy) versus ‘commercialism’ (commercially-oriented entertainment)

Collins & Davis (2004) – ‘cultural-interventionist’ versus ‘commercial-industrial’ PLUS

‘inward-looking Australian films’ versus ‘outward-oriented international films’


A ‘new’ Australian cinema? (1990s-2005)

Turner: ‘lack of self-consciousness about national origins …their range of styles and subjects … their disrespectful indigenisation of mainstream commercial genres’ … The contradictions between mainstream style and cultural nationalism ‘reprocessed into a convincing, unselfconscious hybridity of structure and content’

(Priscilla? Love and Other Catastrophes? Two Hands?)

Jacka (1997): Babe: an Aust film (scripted, produced, directed in Australia) but also international cooperation … ‘the possible future of the film industry — international as well as national, imbricated with narrative style and theme that is different from a H’wood blockbuster but sits comfortably alongside it


Verhoeven (2002):

  • films and filmmakers happily embedded in both the local and the global
  • addressing ‘niche’ audiences internationally
  • deploying narrative styles and themes which are different from big-budget Hollywood films but sit comfortably beside them
  • (Mad Max? Two Hands?

Australian cinema revival

  • Phases:
  • ‘ocker’ films (early-mid 1970s) – contemporary, ‘masculine, populist and cheerfully vulgar’
  • historical ‘period’ films (late-1970s-1980s) – Picnic at Hanging Rock, My Brilliant Career…
  • ‘blockbuster’ films commercially oriented (1980s). Big budget, H’wood genre influence: Snowy River, Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee
  • Multicultural/urban comedies and the ‘glitter cycle’ (1990s) – The Heartbreak Kid, Priscilla, Muriel’s Wedding, Strictly Ballroom
  • 2000s? ‘post-Mabo’ films … urban comedies

Film and identity

Film and history

Film and landscape