Image: The Magic Shoes (1935). NFSA ID: 683091
Our curators are continually searching for key works that are needed for the NFSA collection.
Here is the current list of works we are seeking. If you have any of these, or any rare items related to Australia's audiovisual history, please contact enquiries [at] nfsa.gov.au. We look forward to hearing from you.
Search current NFSA collections using title numbers or keywords.
- Posters, publicity and photographic works relating to Indigenous musicians, actors, filmmakers and production companies.
- Across Australia with Francis Birtles (Francis Birtles, Richard Primmer, Australia, 1912). This film covered adventurer Birtles’ epic bicycle ride from Sydney to Darwin, including dramatised interaction between Indigenous people and early white settlers.
- Every missing silent-era feature film directed by Franklyn Barrett, including Know Thy Child (Franklyn Barrett, Australia, 1921). Praised in its day for its subtle handling of the sensitive theme of illegitimacy, this adult drama featured class differences in an urban setting. See Know Thy Child material that the NFSA already holds.
- The Burgomeister (Harry Southwell, Australia, 1935). One sequence survives from this second Australian feature adaptation of the stage melodrama The Bells, the first having been directed by WJ Lincoln in 1911. NFSA title no: 39124
- Captain Thunderbolt (Cecil Holmes, Australia, 1953). We hold what is believed to be a 53-minute television edit version of this bushranger film depicting Captain Thunderbolt as a folk hero. The original 35mm theatrical release had a running time of 69 minutes. See Captain Thunderbolt material the NFSA already holds.
- Cinesound Varieties (Ken G Hall, Australia, 1934). Featuring well-known Australian musical and comedy stars, this 48-minute film did well at the box office in Australia and England. It is now the only one of director Ken Hall’s dramatised works that is almost entirely lost. See Cinesound Varieties material the NFSA already holds.
- Fellers (Arthur Higgins and Austin Fay, Australia, 1930). One of Australia’s first parttalkies, a World War I drama that featured Arthur Tauchert, star of The Sentimental Bloke (Raymond Longford, Australia, 1919). See Fellers material the NFSA already holds.
- Jewelled Nights (Louise Lovely, Wilton Welch, Australia, 1925). Louise Lovely, Australia’s first major star of Hollywood films in the 1910s and early 1920s, returned home to co-direct and star in this film, which told of a woman fleeing marriage to work as a man in a remote mining district. NFSA title no: 65446
- Every missing silent-era feature film directed by Raymond Longford, including The Blue Mountains Mystery (Raymond Longford, Lottie Lyell, Australia, 1921), a murder mystery that made effective use of its Blue Mountains (NSW) setting and was praised for getting ‘off the beaten bush track’. See The Blue Mountains Mystery material the NFSA already holds.
- The Magic Shoes (Claude Fleming, Australia, 1936). This short film, a pantomime fantasy, featured the first screen appearance of later international star and Oscar-winner Peter Finch. See The Magic Shoes material the NFSA already holds.
Scene from 'Red Sky at Morning’ (1944)
- Red Sky at Morning (Hartney Arthur, Australia, 1944). Another Peter Finch film, with the then radio and stage actor playing an Irish political exile in colonial Australia. See Red Sky at Morning material the NFSA already holds.
- The Removalists (Tom Jeffrey, Australia, 1975). An incomplete release print, the soundtrack final mix and video copies of the film are all that survive of this film adaptation of David Williamson’s classic Australian stage play. A more complete version of the film survives on video. See The Removalists material the NFSA already holds.
- Rock ‘n’ Roll (Lee Robinson, Australia, 1959). Short clips are all that survive of this feature length documentary which covered a major Sydney Stadium concert featuring Johnny O’Keefe, the Delltones and visiting US pop star Fabian. NFSA title no: 340456
- Show Business (AR Harwood, Australia, 1938). Only rushes (various takes) from one minor scene survive from this backstage musical whose cast included a key Australian singer of the day, Barbara James. See Show Business material the NFSA already holds.
- The Story of the Kelly Gang (Charles Tait, Australia 1906). While we recently restored this film to a quarter of its original length, we remain on the lookout for a complete original print and/ or negative. See The Story of the Kelly Gang material the NFSA already holds.
- Symphony in Steel (Frank Hurley, Australia, 1932). Frank Hurley’s widely acclaimed documentary on the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge has now vanished, despite its international release. See Symphony in Steel material the NFSA already holds.
Scene from 'Two Minutes Silence’ (1933)
- Two Minutes Silence (Paulette McDonagh, Australia, 1933). The last of four features directed by the Sydney-based Paulette McDonagh, Two Minutes Silence was adapted from an anti-war play by Leslie Haylen. McDonagh considered it the best film she ever made. See Two Minutes Silence material the NFSA already holds.
- Any film or sound recordings of Australia’s early Prime Ministers, especially John Christian Watson, for which no recording is known to exist.
- Early film documentary of Australia’s connections with our region, including Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Antarctica and the Pacific.
- Buddy Holly on Jack Davey’s AMPOL show, recorded in Melbourne in 1956. Davey hosted many international star guests on the AMPOL show and we hold many examples. Finding a surviving recording of this program, made three years before Buddy Holly’s untimely demise, would be an international sensation. See AMPOL material the NFSA already holds.
- Any examples of 1960s Top 40 radio programs by presenters like Ward Austin, Bob Francis, Sammy K, Stan Rofe, Bob Rogers, Brian Taylor, Graham Webb and Tony Withers. It is amazing how few recordings seem to exist from this time – when rock ’n’ roll was replacing the old faithful radio serials as the main form of on-air entertainment. See Top 40 material the NFSA already holds.
- Austral Duplex recordings from the early 1920s. These were the first disc records manufactured in Australia. They were not very durable, so few have survived – we hold only four examples.
- Early retail recordings from local labels Federal Cylinders and the Australian Record Company. In the first decade of the 20th century two enterprising businesses set about supplying locally made cylinder records. Few of these records survive and they are mostly in private collections.
- Slim Dusty’s unreleased demonstration recordings made before his first commercial release in 1946. These process recordings were pressed in very limited quantities, but a few are known to exist in private collections. See Slim Dusty material the NFSA already holds.
- Any recording of the broadcast of Dame Nellie Melba’s funeral procession. Melba’s death in 1931 was front-page news in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Europe, and we know that her funeral procession was filmed and broadcast on radio. It is just possible that someone recorded part of that broadcast. See Dame Nellie Melba material the NFSA already holds.
- The Overlanders (Trevor Lucas, Reality Records, 1966). This early selection of Australian folk music is very rare. See The Overlanders material the NFSA already holds.
- Any recordings of extinct wildlife or lost soundscapes that are not already held in public collections.
- Most of Australian television’s output in the pre-videotape era between 1956 and 1960 when a lot of programs were shot on film. Very little Australian TV material survives from this period.
Documents and artefacts
- Australian music fashion, such as original costumes worn by AC/DC, Skyhooks, Jeff Duff and Johnny O’Keefe.
- Documentation relating to the careers of distinguished, contemporary female Australian performers, including Olivia Newton-John, Toni Collette, Cate Blanchett, Christine Anu, Rachel Griffiths, Deborah Mailman and Marcia Hines.
- Complete historical corporate papers relating to Greater Union, Australia’s largest and oldest film exhibitor, and the Australian Record Company, which was founded in the late 1930s and became one of Australia’s principal music recording and distribution companies from the 1950s to the 1970s.
- Animation cels for the early works of Australian cartoonist Harry Julius (1885–1938), including the Cartoons of the Moment series from the 1910s; and for animator Eric Porter (1911–83), such as Willie Wombat 1939. See Cartoons of the Moment material the NFSA already holds.
- Joan Sutherland’s 1961 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance (the first Grammy awarded to an Australian artist).
- Scripts for both film and radio of all vintages with the directors’ or performers’ annotations.
- Stills, scripts and memorabilia for the remaining ‘lost’ Australian feature films 1900–1980.
Why search for 'lost’ film?
The NFSA aims to acquire original image and sound negatives, or their more recent digital equivalents, of Australian feature films, documentaries and short films. These components can be used for preservation and any necessary restoration, allowing the creation of new duplicate image and sound negatives in the lead-up to a new print.
The many copies of a film that are screened in cinemas are printed, photochemically, from a 35mm or 16mm negative, usually itself a duplicate made from the original edited camera negative. Prints over time become scratched, faded, shrunken and fragmented, and their soundtrack worn. Even if a print is in perfect condition it is unsuitable for copying or for preservation, and when a battered print is the sole survivor of a feature film, this is far from ideal. Sometimes negatives are re-edited to shorter versions of the film for later release or for use overseas, and the original full-length version is hard to reproduce.
More than 90 per cent of all Australian films made during the pre-1930 silent era are now missing. Chances of their survival diminish with each passing year unless they are held by an archive, distributor or collector. The survival options for films made since 1951 are far better. Not only have these films been made on safety stock, but many of their filmmakers, or people who knew them, are still around to provide valuable leads.
If a film has not been kept under stable storage conditions (in vaults with customised temperature and humidity controls), even films several years old can be in jeopardy. This applies to films shot digitally too. With digital production, projection and archiving now a reality, archives face the increasing challenge of deciding what to preserve, how to preserve it, and how to migrate digital-born material in the face of rapid format change.
The NFSA’s Collection Policy requires the NFSA to preserve a film in its original form for as long as the technology of that form can be supported. While a film might turn up regularly on television or DVD, this does not guarantee that it is being preserved.