Sydney in the silent film era, 1896-1929 - part 1

Sydney in the silent film era, 1896-1929 - part 1
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Before the Bridge – Sydney in the Silent Film Era (1896–1929) is a series of silent film highlights that screened at Martin Place during the 2012 Sydney Film Festival.


Dame Nellie Melba arriving at Central Station, Sydney in 1909. This is the earliest known surviving footage of the famous Australian soprano.

Intertitles: Melba arrives in Sydney.

Excerpt from a 1919 Australasian Gazette newsreel. The Hopetoun Quays residential complex now occupies the former site of the Balmain Colliery, which closed in 1945.

Intertitles: Sydney, NSW. A Difficult Job. Hauling a 30-ton Boiler up a Steep Hill from the Balmain Colliery. Twenty-six horses each doing their bit.

Dramatic footage of the Pastoral Finance Association's Woolstore ablaze at Kirribilli Point in December 1921. A well-known landmark at the time, the destruction of this 7-storey building remains one of inner-Sydney's largest fire disasters.

Film of opening round matches of the 1924 NSWRFL (now NRL) season.

Intertitles: Sydney. Rugby League kicks off. Football season promises to be greatest in history of the game. South Sydney has good, hard-fought triumph over Western Suburbs. At Sports Ground Easts have narrow win from Newtown.

Excerpt from a 1928 documentary on Sydney's busy tramway system. Filmed as huge crowds depart Randwick Racecourse.

Intertitles: A glimpse of the Sydney Cup at Randwick Racecourse. Marshalling hundreds of cars for the return Racecourse Traffic. After the last race the rush commences. An exceptional feat in Tramway Transportation. Trams move the huge crowd at the rate of 1,000 per minute.

Images from the collection of the National Film and Sound Archive curated by Simon Smith.