From the Sparkling Diamond to the Wild One

BY ADAM BLACKSHAW

Tens of thousands of items are collected by the NFSA each year for the national collection. This includes films, sound recordings, television and radio news broadcasts, documents and artefacts, oral histories and much more. New items can come from donations, deposit, formal agreements with screen funding agencies, and through other means. Sometimes members of the public literally find material under their grandfather’s bed!

The total collection of the NFSA now tops well over two million items and, seen as a whole, it represents the memory and creativity of a nation. These are some of the newest additions to the collection:

Glitz and glamour

Elephant's head prop from Moulin Rouge (2001)

Bazmark Films are especially noted for their award-winning production and costume design. Critical to their films’ success is the creative work of film, stage and interior designer Catherine Martin. Catherine has been a collaborator with Baz Luhrmann for over 20 years and is Australia’s most successful Academy Award winner, with four Oscars to her name.

Recently the NFSA received some spectacular costumes and props from three major Bazmark features: Moulin Rouge! (2001), Australia (2008) and The Great Gatsby (2013). They include dresses worn by Nicole Kidman, shoes, jewellery and a fibreglass elephant’s head.

Costumes and props from Bazmark Films arrive at the NFSA.

The Wild One

Johnny O’Keefe performs ‘Shout’ at Brisbane’s Festival Hall, 1962.

Johnny O’Keefe (1935-1978) was a giant of Australian rock’n’roll. The raw energy of his live performances and the enormous talent evident in his recordings made him an icon of the music business. He released over 50 singles and 100 albums, hosted television shows and performed continuously throughout his career.

The O’Keefe family donated the most complete collection of Johnny O’Keefe-related material to the NFSA, including recordings, costumes, artefacts and periodicals. Of special interest are two precious scrapbooks created by his mother. They are notable for the breadth of material included – as she collected every mention of her son that she could, whether favourable or not. The scrapbooks cover a long period (1954–65) and are a true testament to a mother’s devotion to following her son’s career!

Johnny O’Keefe scrapbook compiled by his mother, covering 1954-1961.

Disney princesses, a Goddess and more

Official movie trailer for Goddess (Mark Lamprell, Australia, 2013).

In 2014 the NFSA acquired the last remaining 35mm feature films from major Australian film distributors before the changeover to digital cinema was completed. Titles acquired include: Goddess (2013), Frozen (2013), Saving Mr Banks (2013), Hugo (2011), Gravity (2013), The Great Gatsby (2013), assorted Disney features plus hundreds more, giving us a snapshot of what people were watching at the cinema on the cusp of the digital changeover.

But this is simply the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we collect. Every day we acquire current Australian feature films, documentaries and short films – more than 1000 titles a year – ensuring we have as complete a record as possible of annual Australian film industry output. We also select home movie collections that offer a unique perspective on life in Australia.

Acting legend

Charles 'Bud’ Tingwell, actor

Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell (1923–2009) was one of Australia’s best loved and hardest working actors, appearing in more than 100 films and numerous TV programs in Australia and internationally.

Bud’s TV career included some of Australia’s favourite series: Homicide, The Sullivans and The Flying Doctors, and films such as [legacy-smartlink:Breaker Morant] (1980) and The Castle (1997).

The Tingwell family generously donated an extensive and significant collection of films, documents and artefacts relating to Bud’s long and illustrious career. Also included in the donation was Bud’s make-up and false moustache, kept in two California Chocolates boxes.

 

 

Personal objects donated by Bud Tingwell’s family.

Rare poster from 1941

International Conservation Services (ICS) removing the Forty Thousand Horsemen poster.

Forty Thousand Horsemen is a classic Australian feature film directed by Charles Chauvel in 1940. The film tells the story of the Australian Light Horse cavalry during the First World War and introduced a very young Chips Rafferty to cinema audiences.

A rare poster of the film from 1941 was meticulously removed by International Conservation Services (ICS) staff from the walls of the Chauvel Cinema, Sydney and restored for the NFSA collection. Handling and restoring paper-based objects of this vintage is a painstaking process.

Forty Thousand Horseman poster removed and restored

In their own words

Tim Rogers (songwriter and musician) with interviewer Jen Jewel Brown. NFSA title: 1225156

 

The NFSA’s Oral History program records personal, first-hand recollections of careers in film, TV, radio or recorded sound that may be otherwise completely lost to future generations.

Each year the NFSA conducts scores of oral history recordings with key professionals, practitioners, established and emerging artists in the Australian audiovisual industry.

 

 

Among this year’s interviewees were Tim Rogers, frontman of Australian alternative rock band You Am I; actress Jeanie Drynan, who gave us a glimpse behind the scenes of Muriel’s Wedding (1994); and Peter Carroll, who provided his reflections on a long acting career.

Jeanie Drynan discusses filming the wedding scene in Muriel’s Wedding (1994). NFSA title: 1205752

Peter Carroll discusses the effect of reviews on an actor. NFSA title: 1260072

Don’t miss the second part of our acquisition highlights in which we will reveal our latest Indigenous and television content. Read 2014 at the NFSA, Part 2