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Australian Cinema Semester One 2005 Overview of Course Introduction Section One: Myths of Australia Section Two: The Industry Section Three: Futures What is National Cinema? Economically - the infrastructures of production, distribution, exhibition Popularity with audiences

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australian cinema

Australian Cinema

Semester One


overview of course
Overview of Course
  • Introduction
  • Section One: Myths of Australia
  • Section Two: The Industry
  • Section Three: Futures
what is national cinema
What is National Cinema?
  • Economically - the infrastructures of production, distribution, exhibition
  • Popularity with audiences
  • Self definition
  • National Expression - familiar images, attitudes and self-understanding, ‘aboutness’
  • Role of critics and scholars
  • Cultural identity
  • From 1977-2003 Australian films have earned 5.7% of the box office (that is, $376 million out of total $6,644.4 million)
  • In 2003, Australian share 3.5% ($31.3 million)
  • Peak years - 1977, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1994 - at least 10% share
  • What are Australians watching ( ):
self definition
Self Definition
  • Self defining movements
  • For Australian film:
  • The First Australian Boom (November 1910 - July 1912
  • The Australian New Wave
  • The Australian Renaissance
national expression
National Expression
  • Familiar images - mythologies of bush vs. city, the ‘aussie bloke’, the world-weary pioneer woman, etc.
  • Attitudes and self-expression - what it means to be Australian, the Australian ‘voice’
  • ‘aboutness’ - films about Australia
role of critics and scholars
Role of Critics and Scholars
  • Phillip Adams, key activist for Australian film renaissance of 1970s, known for involvement in ‘Ocker’ genre:

“I regard the Oscars as the golden nails in the coffin of the Australian film industry, and while they are very nice for the golden children who win them, they have nothing to do with the Australian film industry. It’s always a sign of it being murdered, butchered, and that’s not an exaggeration.”

  • What is Australian cultural identity?
  • Iconography
  • New cultural awarenesses
  • 30 November 1894 – peep show – considered the beginning of Australian film
  • August 1896 American magician Carl Hertz showed five Edison films as part of a programme in Melbourne Opera House
  • 1896 Melbourne Cup recorded by Walter Barnett
  • By 1900 Salvation Army using moving pictures as part of a larger programme (Soldiers of the Cross)
soldiers of the cross
Soldiers of the Cross

Salvation Army under the leadership of Herbert Booth (son of William)

  • Major Joseph Perry – production head of Limelight saw potential of film
  • Developed from actualities into mini-dramas
  • Also produced other films – including some on ‘Australian’ themes (i.e., bushrangers)

social developments
Social Developments

Complex social changes in late 19th to early 20th century

  • Increasing levels of urbanisation and affluence
  • Reorganisation of leisure (move from haphazard individualistic pastimes to mass-based, highly commercialised entertainment/leisure industries
first australian boom november 1910 to july 1912
First Australian Boom(November 1910 to July 1912)
  • Most films devoted to reflecting Australia (of the 79 titles released, 53 were proudly and blatantly ‘Australian’)
  • Topics included – bushranging, gold, convict life, horse racing
  • Australia as the edge of the world, place of last chances
  • Cities only appeared occasionally
world war i
World War I
  • Production boom over by January 1913
  • Australasian Films - most powerful production firms merged into a combine of distribution, exhibition and production
  • WWI cut the Australian industry from Europe
  • Opportunity to develop local industry lost due to economics
  • Hollywood production companies set up their own distribution companies in Australia
  • By 1920s there was a thriving newsreel industry
  • Cinema programme of 1930s and 1940s consisted of two features, one or two newsreels, a cartoon and one or two trailers
  • Cinesound – ‘The Voice of Australia’
  • By 1956 the coming of television heralded the end of newsreels
  • Only a few remain

Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1

Production Companies:

  • Australian Film Finance Corporation
  • Bill Bennett Productions

Budget: $2 million

Screened in Australia, USA, Germany