Kokoda Front Line! Oscar for Best Documentary
This is Australia’s first ever Oscar, awarded to Cinesound Review’s chief director Ken G Hall (1901–1994) for Kokoda Front Line! (1942). The inscription on the Oscar reads: ‘To Kokoda Front Line! for its effectiveness in portraying simply yet forcefully the scene of war in New Guinea and for its moving presentation of the bravery and fortitude of our Australian comrades in arms'.
Kokoda Front Line! was one of four films that shared the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1943. According to Ray Edmondson, Curator Emeritus of the NFSA, it was the only newsreel to ever be awarded an Oscar. In an oral history recorded in 1985, Hall recalls that being awarded the Oscar was a ‘great joy and delight to all my people and to me especially because I’d had a fair amount to do with it’.
At first Hall was sent an ersatz gunmetal Oscar because gold and metals were scarce during the war. Then in 1945 he was presented with the real Oscar, which is the one in the NFSA collection. Hall specified in his will that the Oscar should be archived as a tribute to Damien Parer – ‘to his bravery, skill and endurance … He made it possible.’ Parer was killed in action in 1944.