NFSA-National Portrait Gallery exhibition
BY JENNY GALL
Main image: Hugo Weaving as Horatio Farrat. Photograph by Ben King. Film: The Dressmaker, 2015. NFSA, courtesy Film Art Media.
The NFSA and the National Portrait Gallery have partnered on a forthcoming exhibition - Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits - which will present items from the NFSA collection at the Gallery.
Our heroes and ambassadors
The exhibition will feature images of beloved Australian actors and iconic films, as well as highlighting the lesser-known early years of our film industry. Many of the photos have been preserved in our vast collection of publicity shots and behind-the-scenes stills and will be available to the public for the very first time.
Included are rare film posters, 1930s scrapbooks of aspiring actors, and original costumes from Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), My Brilliant Career (1979) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994).
Movie stars and celebrity culture are essential to the film industry and Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits examines how photographic portraits capture the elusive quality of stardom in relation to Australian actors and Australian-made movies from the earliest silent films to the present day.
Australian movie stars are both our heroes and our ambassadors and their movies are a representation of the lifestyle of the country that produced them.
The secret to bringing the Starstruck exhibition to life has been investigating how audiences through time engage with movie actors, either as glamorous figures of escapist fantasy, or as characters whose lives they can relate to.
While darkened cinemas are designed to make audiences focus all their attention on the giant images on the screen, still images locate the film star on a realistic scale in the everyday world.
When we see publicity in magazines, on billboards, on posters or the stars themselves interviewed on television, they are simultaneously of our world and outside it, inviting us to look behind the image in the tantalising search for their true identity. Publicists measure out the ‘truth’ in tasty morsels to the media to keep fans enthralled by the glimpses of the private lives of celebrities.
A key theme of Starstruck is the role of women in the history of Australian cinema. From Lottie Lyell’s exceptional contributions in the early years of the 20th century, women have worked at the heart of the movie industry, mastering and manipulating the power of celebrity and collaborating to make exceptional films in a variety of industry roles additional to acting.
Starstruck presents the skills of the stills photographer to audiences throughout the country in a collection of richly diverse images. Through the lens of this discipline audiences will meet the extraordinary artists who make the cinema masterpieces that tell us about ourselves by depicting the stories of others.
Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 November 2017 until 4 March 2018 before travelling around the country. Book your tickets now at the National Portrait Gallery website.
Supported by the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to the national collections for all Australians.