A group of people wearing hats at a protest during the Great Strike of 1917

Censored 1917 strike film added to UNESCO register


The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is proud to announce that its reconstruction of the censored 1917 film The Great Strike has been inscribed in the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

The Great Strike documents one of Australia’s largest industrial conflicts. It was screened only once before it was embargoed and censored. With an original running time of an hour, only 12 minutes were believed to have survived until the discovery of an additional six minutes in 2016. The footage was scanned and pieced together to recreate the film as accurately as possible, and is available on the NFSA’s YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/TheGreatStrike1917  

NFSA CEO Jan Müller said: ‘We are delighted that the NFSA reconstruction of The Great Strike has been inscribed in the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register. This 1917 documentary survived both censorship and the passage of time, and is a remarkable example of social history captured on film.

‘The fact that the film has been made accessible to online audiences was only possible because of the expertise of our curatorial and technical experts. The NFSA faces the ongoing challenge to digitise our vast collection, in order to make it visible, usable and sustainable. This is a rewarding example of the benefits of this work.

The Great Strike is the fourth item in the NFSA collection to be granted this honour, highlighting the importance of our audiovisual heritage as the ultimate record of life in Australia since the invention of these technologies in the late 19th century.

The UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Program honours documentary heritage of significance for Australia and the world, and advocates for its preservation.

With more than 90 per cent of Australia’s silent film heritage thought to be lost, it is likely that the censored scenes have vanished from our records. Anyone who may know anything about the missing footage is encouraged to contact the NFSA at enquiries@nfsa.gov.au.

For interviews with NFSA CEO Jan Müller, please contact Miguel Gonzalez, 0404 281 632 or Miguel.gonzalez@nfsa.gov.au.


The Great Strike