Our collection is your collection, so sign up for our newsletter and never miss out! Receive the latest news and event information from Australia’s living archive.
Film is part of the DNA of this country, and to experience it on the big screen fills us with a sense of who we are as Australians. Together we can preserve our film culture, the stories we want to keep telling.
Margaret Pomeranz, NFSA Ambassador
Classics deserve to be experienced on the big screen. NFSA Restores is an exciting program to digitise, restore and preserve, at the highest archival standards, classic and cult Australian films so they can be seen in today’s digital cinemas.
We’ve already completed a number of titles, but we need the public’s support to do more. There are thousands of titles in 16mm and 35mm in need of restoration. With NFSA Restores, we are bringing Australian films to the digital age, but there is so much more we could do with your help. Every donation to NFSA Restores makes a difference.
The NFSA’s digital restoration of Sons of Matthew (1949) premiered at Arc cinema, Canberra in March 2017.
It is the most personal work of legendary Australian filmmaker Charles Chauvel, paying tribute to the pioneering farmers of northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland where he grew up. The intergenerational western depicts the challenges facing a farming family across decades, with dramatic action sequences that hold up well 70 years after it was made.
Sons of Matthew is arguably Chauvel's most ambitious work, with production taking 18 months to complete and filming in Queensland badly affected by flooding and heavy rain. The film was nevertheless a huge success with local audiences when it opened in December 1949, and was also released in the UK and US (as The Rugged O'Riordans).
The NFSA’s digital restoration of Three Days to Live (1924) premiered at Arc cinema, Canberra in February 2017 with a live piano accompaniment by Mauro Colombis. Once thought lost, Three Days to Live is one of the earliest known titles to include the work of Oscar-winning filmmaker Frank Capra.
Three Days to Live is a mystery set across San Francisco’s share market and ‘exotic’ India, where a shadowy investor is targeting fellow investors, forcing them into bankruptcy. Capra is credited as Titles and Editor. It is also thought, according to biographer Jim McBride, that Capra was assistant director.
Three Days to Live was first brought into Australia in 1925, with the earliest recorded screenings in Tasmania and South Australia at Port Pirie’s Alhambra Theatre. ‘From attempts to locate the film elsewhere it appears the NFSA holds the only identifiable copy of the film, so it is very unique': NFSA Film Curator Sally Jackson. The year-long restoration project secures an important piece of Australian and world cinema history.
The NFSA’s digital restoration of The Odd Angry Shot premiered in Tasmania in August 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
The Odd Angry Shot follows a single tour of duty of an Australia Special Air Service Regiment reconnaissance team in Vietnam, and their daily life in camp. Directed by Tom Jeffrey, the 1979 film features an all-star cast including Graham Kennedy, Bryan Brown, John Hargreaves and John Jarratt.
Above: The Odd Angry Shot – 2016 restoration trailer. Director: Tom Jeffrey; Producers: Tom Jeffrey, Sue Milliken; Cast: Graham Kennedy, John Hargreaves, John Jarratt, Bryan Brown, Graeme Blundell.
The Odd Angry Shot is less about the politics of Australia’s involvement in the war than the men, the conflict and their adjustment to life back home. ‘The new digital print is fantastic and it has given [the movie] a new lease of life. [The film] remains the only Australian motion picture dealing with our participation in the Vietnam War, and is a tribute to the professionalism of our soldiers serving in extremely difficult circumstances.’ Writer-director Tom Jeffrey
The NFSA restoration of Proof premiered at the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival on 29 July 2016.
Martin (Hugo Weaving), a visually impaired man, lives an emotionally isolated life. Holding a deep-seated mistrust for the people around him, he takes photographs of his surroundings as a safeguard against being deceived. An object of obsessive but unrequited desire for his housekeeper (Genevieve Picot), Martin embarks on a cautious friendship with a young restaurant worker (Russell Crowe). In doing so, he sets in motion a love triangle in which trust can be built and shattered.
Above: Before and after restoration clip from Proof (1991). Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse; Producer: Lynda House; Cast: Hugo Weaving, Russell Crowe, Genevieve Picot.
In May 2016 the NFSA asked the public to help us fund the restoration of Proof. Over the course of 45 days, we were able to raise $27,000, thanks to the generosity of 266 film lovers from across Australia and around the world. Whether they gave two or two thousand dollars, each one of their donations was crucial to help us reach our goal. Their contribution is not only financial; their support is a vote of confidence in the work of the NFSA, and proof that Australians care about the preservation of their film history.
The NFSA restoration of Bliss premiered at the 2016 Sydney Film Festival.
Harry Joy (Barry Otto) dies – for four minutes – after a heart attack. When he is revived, he suspects he’s living in hell. His wife Bettina (Lynette Curran) is having an affair with his business partner Joel (Jeff Truman), his son David (Miles Buchanan) sells cocaine and Harry’s advertising agency promotes products that cause cancer. Harry turns over a new leaf when he meets a north coast hippie, Honey Barbara (Helen Jones), and begins the long process of earning her trust, and his own redemption.
Above: Restoring Bliss (1985). Director: Ray Lawrence; Producer: Anthony Buckley; Cast: Barry Otto, Lynette Curran, Helen Jones.
There are actually three versions of Bliss, Ray Lawrence’s bold satire that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to win three AFI Awards. Once the NFSA confirmed that the interpositive and final mix of the original theatrical version held in the national collection matched, we digitally preserved and restored this version that became a cult hit with Australian audiences in 1985. Director Ray Lawrence (Lantana, 2001; Jindabyne, 2006) and producer Anthony Buckley both contributed to the restoration process of Bliss along with our restoration partners Frame Set Match. Director Ray Lawrence said, ‘It’s an honour to have your first film preserved like this. I’d only ever seen it with a lot of scratches; this restoration is the best print of the film I’ve seen in 30 years!’.
Watch more clips from Bliss on the NFSA YouTube channel.
The NFSA restoration of Storm Boy premiered at the 2015 Adelaide International Film Festival.
A 10-year-old boy (Greg Rowe), living with his father (Peter Cummins) in the wild Coorong wetlands of South Australia, rescues a baby pelican orphaned by hunters. With the help of Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil), the boy and the bird become inseparable, until the outside world encroaches.
Above: Storm Boy before and after restoration clip. Director: Henri Safran; Producer: Matt Carroll; Starring: Greg Rowe, David Gulpilil, Peter Cummins.
The NFSA’s experts had their work cut out for them when they discovered the oxide was lifting off two reels of the final sound mix. This required ‘baking’ them in a low humidity rejuvenation chamber for seven days before they could be safely digitised. Restoration partners Frame, Set and Match had to spend almost twice the time on digitally cleaning and grading the picture than with the other two films. Producer Matt Carroll contributed to the process and the South Australian Film Corporation (SAC) were very happy to see the film digitally restored.
The NFSA restoration of Starstruck premiered at the 2015 Adelaide International Film Festival.
Teenage cousins Angus (Ross O’Donovan) and Jackie Mullens (Jo Kennedy) live in the Harbour View Hotel, beneath the Harbour Bridge in Sydney’s The Rocks. Jackie is 18 and wants to be a singer; Angus is 14 and writes songs, while avoiding school and dreaming up wacky schemes to get his cousin noticed. The brewery wants to repossess the pub, so the teenagers set out to win a national talent contest, with a cash prize of $25,000.
Above: Before and after restoration clip from Starstruck (1982). Director: Gillian Armstrong; Producers: David Elfick, Richard Brennan; Cast: Jo Kennedy, Ross O’Donovan, Margo Lee.
Producer David Elfick, cinematographer Russell Boyd and director Gillian Armstrong all contributed to the restoration process. It was complicated as there were two versions of the film: a 105-minute Australian version and a 95-minute international one. The NFSA did not have complementary picture and sound components, but with the assistance of Mr Elfick, we were able to source the international soundtrack to match the interpositive we have in the national collection.
The NFSA restoration of Howling III premiered at the 2015 Adelaide International Film Festival.
The beautiful Jerboa (Imogen Annesley) escapes her tribe to seek refuge in Sydney. She meets and falls in love with Donny Martin (Leigh Biolos), who refuses to believe her when she confides she’s a werewolf. Their union results in the birth of a marsupial werewolf baby that Jerboa and Donny will have to protect from those who seek to capture the child.\
Above: Before and after restoration clip from Howling III: The Marsupials (1987). Director: Philippe Mora; Producer: Charles Waterstreet, Philippe Mora; Cast: Barry Otto, Imogen Annesley, Max Fairchild.
The NFSA has the original camera negative, which was used to create a digital master. Director Philippe explains: ‘As I recall the negative did not need much fiddling with at all – exposed right down the middle’. When cinematographer Louis Irving sat in on a screening he was extremely pleased with the final result.
An industry advisory panel – including NFSA Ambassador Margaret Pomeranz, participates in the selection of titles for restoration, balancing:
For NFSA Restores, we utilise the best available original picture and sound materials, from both the NFSA collection and around the world. Restored films are migrated every five years to ensure their format remains contemporary and they are available as Digital Cinema Packages (DCP) for screening in today’s cinemas. We are working with restoration partners and copyright owners to ensure that audiences around Australia can enjoy these restored films.
Digital restoration is highly specialised work, with a film costing anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on its condition. These are some of the things we have to do to restore a film: