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This month we screen episodes from Film Australia’s 1979 series, The History of Australian Cinema. Pictures That Moved (1896 to 1920) begins with the footage shot at the 1896 Melbourne Cup; Passionate Industry (1920 to 1930) profiles the burgeoning silent film industry; and Now You’re Talking (1930 to 1940) covers the pioneering days of ‘talkies’ through to the Second World War.
The Pictures That Moved 1896-1920
1968 | 45 Minutes | Director: Alan Anderson
A novel moving picture presentation of Australia early in the 20th century. The film starts with the 1896 Melbourne Cup race, the 1900 multimedia event "Soldiers of the Cross" and the 1906 hour-long feature The Story of the Kelly Gang. It moves through ethnographic and actuality films, newsreels and features to the 1920 features Robbery Under Arms and The Sentimental Bloke. Using extracts from productions as well as stills, contemporary press reports and interviews, this documentary shows the wide range of films being made, the development in filmmaking techniques and changes in the way the national character is portrayed.
The Passionate Industry 1920-1930
1973 | 60 Minutes | Director: Joan Long
The twenties was a passionate period - a decade of fervent, feverish activity in the film industry in Australia when over 100 feature films were made. Fewer than 30 survive today. This documentary features For the Term of His Natural Life, the husband-and-wife team of Louise Lovely and Wilton Wench and the work of director Raymond Longford among material from 50 newsreels, 16 feature films and still photographs drawn from over 70 collections. It encapsulates the history, sociology, customs, clothes and amusements of Australia in the roaring twenties.
Now You’re Talking 1930-1940
1979 | 47 Minutes | Director: Keith Gow
The story of the Australian film industry in the thirties, from the pioneering days of “talkies” through to the decline of the industry with the coming of World War Two. Despite the Depression, the decade opened on an optimistic note for the industry. The early 1930s produced the first experiments with sound until sound-on-film established its supremacy. Newsreels came into prominence, with keen rivalry between American-owned Fox Movietone and local competitor, Cinesound Review. Cinesound went on to produce a string of feature films - motion pictures that established Ken G Hall as the most prolific director of the 30s. Although it was a decade of struggle for independent filmmakers, this was also the era that saw the emergence of screen-acting talents like Errol Flynn and Peter Finch, when Dad and Dave were brought to the screen and Charles Chauvel made Forty Thousand Horsemen.