‘Films for the intelligent layman’: The origins of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals (1952-1958)

This is the first of a sequence of three papers, which deal with the formative years (until 1972) of Australia’s two major international film festivals, Sydney and Melbourne. These papers will trace the Festivals’ development and growth over this period – from their early years as small-scale, amateur-driven events, to being the premier ‘film culture’ events in Australia.[1]

If the history of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals is to be understood, then two principles need to be borne in mind. The first principle is that the festivals have their own institutional identity and history, and their own position in a network of other organisations and institutions. In some ways, this is an obvious point, but it means that the festivals should not be treated as if they were simply ’empty spaces’ for the display of films. In contrast to other parts of the institutional network of cinema (such as production houses, distribution and exhibition networks) very little critical historical attention has been paid to film festivals qua organisations, and they tend to be mentioned in most accounts as simply the vehicles for particular films.[2] The primary purpose of these three papers is thus to begin redressing this situation, by offering a brief outline of the institutional history of the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals.

The second principle that underlies this narrative is that the organisational history of the two film festivals is best seen as involving a continuous negotiation between the demands of ‘culture’ and the demands of ‘industry’. The film festivals were formed self-consciously as organisations dedicated to ‘film culture’, and this self-image (in more or less articulate forms) played a role in shaping all aspects of the festivals – from dealing with the commercial film trade, to the selection of films to be screened, to the very structure of the programmes themselves. This notion of film ‘culture’ can be seen as a family of overlapping ideas that are unified through their opposition to an ‘other’ – film as ‘industry’. This opposition between ‘culture’ and ‘industry’ was, of course, a common theme in aesthetic reflection under modernity, and was particularly sharp in the field of cinema (with its suspiciously close relation to industry and industrial pressures).[3] The opposition that the festivals operated with can thus be roughly summed up in the following table.

Culture vs. Industry
‘quality’ or ‘art’ cinema vs.’mere entertainment’ or ‘commercial cinema’

‘intellectually valuable’ or ‘educational’ vs. (merely) ‘entertaining’ or ‘pleasurable’
‘aesthetically pleasing’ vs. ‘titillating’
‘unique’ or ‘experimental’ vs. ‘formulaic’ or ‘stereotyped’ or ‘genre’
‘for the public good’ vs. ‘for private profit’
‘enhances national or cultural identity’ vs. ‘supports cultural imperialism’
‘encourages internationalism’ vs. ‘encourages parochialism’
‘appreciated only by an elite’ vs.’for mass consumption’
‘encourages critical engagement’ vs. ‘encourages passivity’
‘politically liberating’ vs. ‘supports status quo’

In the field of cinema, it was Hollywood that could be seen as the paradigm example of the ‘industry’ side of this opposition. Particularly in the post-war period, its products were the mainstay of commercial exhibition outlets throughout the Anglophone world. Furthermore, the Hollywood studios were unabashed commercial enterprises, dedicated to the pursuit of profit and a mass audience. As shall be discussed in the next section, Hollywood and its products thus provided the natural foil against which the Festivals defined themselves.


In the post-war years, while commercial exhibition houses were still overwhelmingly dominated by Hollywood feature films, the rebirth of the European film industries and the growing interest in shorts and documentaries saw the production of an increasingly rich and diverse range of films.[4] Accompanying this was an excitement and interest in the possibilities of film as a medium – something recalled by early Sydney Film Festival member, Allan Ashbolt:

suddenly you come across this world where it is reality, there’s fast cutting, it’s all confrontational cutting, and if you sit there as a soldier you think, what’s this, Jesus! This is real, you can actually use this medium to make films about reality, not this fiction, girly magazine approach of film-making. I had never seen a documentary film until late in the war and in the post-war period … because there was nowhere to show these films.[5]

As Ashbolt’s remark suggests, despite the existence of an audience for these ‘other’ films, there was little or no commercial interest in screening them. This absence contributed to the burgeoning growth of various film societies in Australia, and it was from this fertile soil that the first Australian international film festivals emerged.[6]

Australia’s first ‘official’ international film festival was held by the Federation of Victorian Film Societies (FVFS), and other affiliated and interstate film and cine-societies, in the Victorian country town of Olinda in 1952.[7] In an important sense, this event marks the beginning of the history of the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals. For not only did the success of Olinda provide the impetus for the organisation of those festivals in the following year, but its structure and self-image also provided the template for their early development.

Olinda was self-consciously a ‘film culture’ event, that deliberately placed itself in opposition to the values and products of ‘industry’. This conscious opposition provided the unifying thread to Olinda’s screenings. For the range of films shown at Olinda shared only this negative characteristic: they were not current Hollywood feature productions. The films included documentaries, public relations films, animation, instructional films, feature films and amateur productions of every-day life. They covered topics from arenas as broad as science, religion and art, and were either made or sponsored by a extraordinarily diverse range of organisations. These included the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the Australian Army, Films of Africa, the International Realist Unit for the UK Ministry of Health, the North-Eastern Film Studio of the Central Film Bureau (China), Shell Oil, the United Nations Film Bureaus, and Walt Disney.[8]

The Olinda Festival’s first programme makes use of the notion of ‘film culture’ as a way of discursively unifying these diverse films, and legitimising their selection. In the eyes of Festival organisers, the films were unified not simply by their opposition to, or difference from, ‘industry’, but, more importantly, by the supposed moral and/or social value that they thereby possessed. Throughout the Olinda programme, terminologies are employed that assigned such value both to the Festival films themselves, and to the Festival audience. Such phrases as ‘good film’, ‘films of merit’, and ‘quality film’ are used repeatedly to refer to the films themselves, whilst the generic audience member is referred to as ‘the intelligent layman’.[9]

The Festival included not just screenings, but also a range of lectures, seminars and discussion sessions, which were designed to allow the audience to reflect actively on the social and cultural value of film. In particular, there was a heavy emphasis on Olinda’s role as an educational forum. Academics presented lectures and seminars on the use of film as instructional devices (under rubrics such as ‘Film and Education’, ‘Classroom film’, ‘Instructional film’, and ‘Scientific film’).[10] There was also a strong emphasis on film’s role in promoting cross-cultural understanding, through the inclusion of documentaries from various countries, and a film session sponsored by the United Nations.[11]

A clear statement of the Olinda Festival’s conscious opposition to ‘industry’ is provided by one of the key speakers at the event: Alan K. Stout, Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the University of Sydney. Stout was an important and influential figure in 1950s film culture in Australia, and also a vehement activist against Hollywood production.[12]  In the Olinda programme he writes that:

The problem of the cinema is that it is both “big business” and at the same time one of the most powerful influences on character and outlook the world has known. But those who run the commercial cinema are not interested in education, in affecting people’s outlook, and in changing their habits of thinking and feeling and acting … [rather, the] box office is the criterion by which films are judged, and the only influence movie moguls want films to have is to preserve a social and political order in which the industry can flourish.[13]

In this statement, Stout makes clear the activist and paternalist conception of culture that provided one of the key notions behind Olinda. Under this conception, the value of film as a medium lay primarily in its educational possibilities – as a tool, which in the right hands, could be a force for changing society for the better.

One further purpose of the Olinda Festival was to support the development of the Australian film industry – both as an expression of national identity, and as a form of ‘other’ film. As Robert Menzies wrote in the programme, “I hope [this festival] will encourage even higher standards of film production in Australia, and help develop in our people a love of good films of every kind”.[14] The inclusion of the first national film competition – the Commonwealth Jubilee Awards – acted as the cornerstone of this aim. This link to the national film industry was to remain part of Sydney’s and Melbourne’s identity in the years to come.

Olinda was considered by its organisers to be a surprising success. Originally estimating that the attendance at the Festival would be no more than eighty, they invested the entire funds of the FVFS (a total of £15) in hiring one “rambling old wooden guest house”.[15] However, in the end, Olinda attracted more than eight-hundred film enthusiasts.[16] As one contemporary remembers:

five-scattered halls were engaged and Army engineers linked them with field telephones. Olinda school playground was turned into an open-air theatre by building a projection box at one side and erecting a 35 foot screen on the other. … Every available piece of accommodation in the hills was obtained, and when all guest houses were filled we began billeting film-lovers in private homes.[17]

The Melbourne Film Festival 1953-58

Olinda’s success raised the possibility of organising an Australian national film festival to be held in Canberra the following year (1953). This idea was argued for by the Australian Council Of Film Societies (ACOFS) – the national body formed in 1950. However, the plan collapsed after it was rejected by the FVFS, who felt that Olinda had demonstrated that there was sufficient local support for a regular Victorian festival – the Melbourne Film Festival.[18] The large and prestigious Exhibition Building was therefore hired for the 1953 festival.[19]

The first Melbourne Festival was very similar to the Olinda Festival. It retained the strong focus on audience education, both through the films themselves and through seminars and discussions led by cultural ‘experts’. This is clear from the Melbourne Festival’s stated aims:

a. To integrate films into programmes of significance, and each programme will be discussed by a relevant authority;
b. To hold discussions on controversial subjects … making the Festival a sounding board for public opinion as represented by a diverse panel of experts;
c. To enable people to enjoy and appreciate films which they otherwise could not see, but [sic] it will show educationalists and others how to go about making and using visual aids to the best advantage.[20]

The programme content at Melbourne also remained close to the Olinda model – with a preponderance of documentaries and short films drawn from a variety of sources. These included documentaries funded by companies such as Rolex, Ford, and Imperial Chemical Industries. It should be noted that these were not simply publicity pieces for the companies involved, but incorporated broader educational and cultural themes – and for this reason were considered to be legitimate festival films. For example, Opus 65, funded by Ford, is an “attempt at discovering and expressing a relationship between music and the mechanical process”.[21] The Story of Time, sponsored by Rolex, is again an abstract animation film, “using various symbols and devices to dramatize man’s discovery and mastery of the hours”.[22]

Despite its similarities to Olinda, the 1953 Melbourne Film Festival was a much more ambitious – and problematic – project than its predecessor. While the Olinda film programme was taken entirely from national film suppliers, the 1953 programme began to look to overseas sources for films. In addition, the size and design of the Exhibition Building meant equipping it with the necessary technology. As committee member Alfred Heintz recalls, the Festival committee

built a projection box for £1,350 and tried to convert that vast auditorium to a film theatre. It couldn’t be done. Special projection lenses had to be flown out from England to handle the long throw, vast quantities of hessian drapes purchased, fire-proofed and hung to dampen the echoes, CSIRO engineers worked on a time-lapse system for the speakers to keep the sound in synchronisation. But all in vain. Nothing worked properly. And to make matters worse, the films we could get were second-rate.[23]

In taking stock after the 1953 Festival, the organising committee decided that it had in fact been too ambitious. The Festival had a considerably higher attendance than at Olinda, with nearly two thousand subscribers, but was not sold out.[24]  More importantly, despite the high attendance the Festival still made a net loss of around £600, on an overdraft that had been personally guaranteed by the committee members.[25] This loss was due to the increased rental and technical costs incurred by the use of the Exhibition building. According to Heintz, “to all intents and purposes, the film festival was dead”.[26]

In response to these problems, the Melbourne University Film Society (MUFS) recommended that the 1954 Festival be held on campus. This change of venue made both practical and cultural sense – enough lecture theatres and halls already had the necessary technology for film screenings, while the university, as the city’s most prestigious educational establishment, provided the appropriate environment and kudos for the event.[27]

The revenue problems of the 1953 Festival also led the organising committee to seek ways of improving its profile. One possibility was to adopt some of the attributes of the major overseas international film festivals. In particular, the committee debated at length whether to turn Melbourne into a competitive festival like Venice and Cannes – a debate that clearly reveals the opposition between ‘culture’ and ‘industry’. Arguing for the idea, public relations practitioner and committee-member Heintz pointed out that “producers and distributors of film would not feel inclined to send good films without the possibility of winning a prize”. Heintz also argued that the “publicity and public relations value of a competition was essential to the success of a Festival”.[28] Other committee members disagreed with this idea, suggesting that giving awards to ‘commercial’ films (i.e., films with distribution) would corrupt the tenor of the Festival – one member stating that “the cultural note of the festival should be maintained and improved, and that trafficking in awards for commercial films was not a step towards this”.[29] Eventually, as a compromise between these two positions, it was decided that a feature film competition from international entrants would be held, with Ford Motor Company sponsoring the trophy. This idea was abandoned however, when Ford dropped its promised support from £250 to £75.[30]

The 1954 Melbourne Film Festival was a considerable success. The move to Melbourne University had substantially reduced overheads, and the festival made a net profit of over £1,200. Given the success in the new venue, the Festival invited representatives from the University onto its organising committee.[31]

Having dealt with its major logistical problems, the organising committee continued to debate the general shape that the Melbourne Festival should take. In particular, there was discussion whether it should continue as an event open only to FVFS members, or should be made more accessible to the general public. The majority of the committee however, were still in favour of maintaining the Festival as a closed event, noting in the minutes that

At this stage of film history in our country we cannot expect a film festival to be an all-community affair … Such a festival – a cinematic mardi gras – would not be possible for a very long time. For the present at least, our film festivals could only be meetings of people who are seriously interested in the film medium for one reason or another, and who are prepared to spend the time and money needed to see the films chosen by the organisers as ‘festival standard’.[32]

The Melbourne Film Festival did, however, decide to move away from some of the elements inherited from Olinda. In particular, the committee voted to drop the explicit educational aims of Olinda, and simplify the purpose of the Festival. It was thus announced in the 1955 programme introduction that the Melbourne Film Festival existed primarily to show films that would not receive commercial screening in Australia.[33] Or, in the words of the introduction, the Festival will present films “demanding the interest and attention that is the right of artistic achievement” and “the widest range of films from all parts of the world, especially those which are unlikely to reach our local theatre screens”.[34]  This represented a shift towards a more contemporary conception of a film festival: with film as ‘art’ as opposed to film as ‘mere entertainment’, and film as ‘representing the whole world’ rather than just the products of Hollywood.

Furthermore, the various film seminars, lectures, and discussions, so prominent in the Olinda programme, were reduced by 1956 to a single ‘feedback’ session, held at the end of the Festival. The point of this session was not for academic discussion of particular film content, or for educational purposes. Rather, it was an opportunity to critique the Festival programming as a whole.[35]

In addition, in the 1956 Festival the explicitly educational or scientific sessions had been replaced with sessions organised around more aesthetic criteria. While the 1954 programme had included a range of sessions on such topics as ‘New ideas in film’, ‘Science and Nature’, ‘People and Places’, and ‘Mental Health’[36]  by 1956 these had been exchanged for rubrics such as ‘Shapes and Shade’, ‘In Past Tense’, ‘Chiaroscuro’ and ‘Pot-Pourri’.[37]

Along with these changes in structure and programming, Melbourne also attempted to professionalise its administrative structure, by employing its first paid Festival Director for the 1957 Festival. This was Erwin Rado – who, by the beginning of 1958, was receiving a director’s salary of £700 per annum.[38] Rado was a highly-cultured Hungarian immigrant, with a deep passion for classical music as well as European cinema, and he placed particular emphasis on ensuring that the Melbourne Festival provided subscribers with a rich diet of Continental productions.[39]

In 1958, the committee also took a major step towards making the Melbourne Film Festival a major player on the international festival circuit: they contributed £1,000 to send Rado overseas to attend film festivals and meet with international distributors.[40] This meant that, for the first time, the Melbourne Festival would no longer be solely reliant on local Australian sources for film product. Instead, it could now directly select films from overseas, and thus had a much wider range of current product to choose from. Hence, by the 1958 Festival, the programme was able to claim that:

The Seventh Melbourne Film Festival will present 130 films from 21 countries. These films were selected for their achievements in the field of cinematography, or because they present a new point of view, use a new approach or explore a new technique towards rendering this youngest art more vital in its message and the most expressive of our age.[41]

One further change made for the 1958 Festival was the institution of the Australian Film Awards as a way of carrying on Olinda’s attempt to improve the impoverished state of Australian cinema. These Awards initially consisted of four categories: Documentary, Educational, Advertising, and Open – the absence of any Feature Film category being in itself an eloquent comment on the sad state of Australian film production.[42] The judges then created a special category for Experimental Film, and in 1959 the awards were further expanded to include Public Relations and Teaching.[43]

The success of the Melbourne Film Festival between 1955 and 1958 is evident both in its physical and financial expansion. The Festivals in 1956 and 1957 were so popular that in 1958, owing to the existence of waiting lists, Rado recommended that the Festival move to the Rivoli Theatre in Camberwell, as well as to the Carlton Theatre for the more popular Saturday sessions.[44] Although the Festival’s profit margin increased only gradually between 1954 and 1958 (mainly because of its accompanying physical expansion), its general subscription takings moved from approximately £3,000 in 1954[45] to over £9,000 in 1958.[46]

The Sydney Film Festival 1954-1958

The first Sydney Film Festival was held in 1954 at the University of Sydney over the weekend of 13-14 June – a year after the first Melbourne Festival.[47] Rather than being driven, as in Melbourne, by the presence of a strong film society movement, the impetus for the Sydney Festival came primarily from the network of film makers in Sydney. This difference was to shape the structure and content of the Sydney Film Festival in its early years. As discussed in the previous section, from its inception the Melbourne Festival had set its sights upon becoming a prestige ‘film culture’ event, with a professional director and screenings of high-quality European productions. Sydney, on the other hand, remained throughout this period a smaller and much more amateur event.

With the Department of Information, Shell Film Unit, and numerous independent organisations based in Sydney, the city was considered the hub of Australian film-making. There was also a strong awareness amongst Sydney film makers of the importance of overseas film festivals for the non-commercial film movement.[48] For this reason, the Sydney Festival placed a much greater emphasis on local amateur film screenings than did Melbourne, and thus had a higher proportion of Australian content.[49] Furthermore, while the Melbourne committee was primarily comprised of film culture figures, the early Sydney organising committee contained many representatives from the film industry.[50]

Despite this difference of emphasis, Sydney still shared the same essential conception of a film festival with Melbourne. Like Melbourne, Sydney was held at the University as a ‘prestige venue’. This venue also had the advantage of being rent-free, having been secured through the influence of Alan Stout – who was chairman of the Sydney festival committee, as well as being a professor at Sydney University.[51]

In its early days, the Sydney Film Festival was a smaller and less professionally organised occasion than its Melbourne counterpart. While the Melbourne programme over this period typically contained over a hundred films, the Sydney programme typically contained less than half this number. Furthermore, unlike Melbourne, the Sydney Festival did not have a professional director throughout this period. In 1956 (the same year as Rado was appointed director at Melbourne) it had introduced a formal directorial role to its committee structure; however, this position remained purely voluntary and unpaid. Unlike Melbourne, this was also a dual-directorship consisting of one director responsible for programme management (initially, David Donaldson) and a second responsible for business management (initially, D.J. McDermott).[52] However, the Sydney directors tended to change regularly – and, in general, did not enjoy the sort of weight and authority that Rado had in Melbourne. In 1957 Donaldson was replaced by Valwyn Edwards.[53] However, Edwards thought the Festival was ‘amateurish’ and returned to Melbourne the following year.

Before Edwards returned to Melbourne, she gave the committee a detailed critique of the organising of the 1958 Festival in her ‘Director’s Report’. The charges laid in this report reveal some of the important contrasts to Melbourne. Edwards stated that the Sydney Festival was, overall, “disorganised, confused, and amateurish”. She blamed these problems in part on the Festival location at the University of Sydney – noting that the lecture rooms and halls were often unsuitable, and made for various technical difficulties – and in part on the fact that the Festival had little support from local film societies.[54] She also criticised the content of the Festival programme, and argued that it lacked any real unity or coherence.

Edwards suggested that in order to improve matters, the Sydney organising committee should do two things. Firstly, the Festival should primarily aim at “raising the standards of film appreciation and educating a large number of people to it”. Secondly, she strongly recommended that Sydney follow the Melbourne route of appointing a “fully professional organiser” for the Festival directorship (and recommended that this person be a “Public Relations man or woman”, rather than an ‘enthusiastic’ but untrained member of the committee).[55]

Perhaps partly because of these problems with organisation, venue, and content, the Sydney Film Festival did not see the increase in subscription enjoyed by Melbourne. During this period, the Melbourne Festival increased its membership ceiling from two to three thousand in response to demand. However, the Sydney Film Festival was forced to retain its target membership of only two thousand. In 1954, only fifteen hundred of the two thousand tickets were sold.[56] And while the 1955 Festival had nearly the full quota of subscribers, by 1958 this number had fallen to less than fourteen hundred.[57]  Despite this substantial drop in subscriptions, the Sydney Festival still managed to make a modest profit of over £800 in 1958.[58]

Given the smaller profits made by the Sydney Festival (as compared to Melbourne), its budget for film acquisition was, of course, correspondingly smaller. This difference was further exacerbated by the fact that while the Melbourne Festival received financial support from both the FVFS and University-based organisations, Sydney did not have the same kind of consolidated financial support. Unsurprisingly, at Sydney there was no budget allocation for overseas trips to source films (like those enjoyed by Rado). Instead, the Sydney Festival continued to acquire most of its programme either from the Melbourne Film Festival, Sydney organising committee connections, or on the advice of reviews in journals such as Sight and Sound and Variety.[59]

Despite these issues, or perhaps indeed partly because of them, the Sydney Festivals at this time were enjoyable experiences for many in the audience. Edwards’ critique of the 1958 Festival assumed that the Sydney organising committee wanted to establish a fully professional film festival – on the model of the major international festivals. However, in fact many on the committee had a different vision for the Sydney Festival. It should be remembered here that although both Sydney and Melbourne were held on university campuses, the Sydney Festival drew strongly on the student body for its audience. Melbourne, on the other hand, attracted a much wider audience of film enthusiasts via its extensive connection with the FVFS. For some in the Sydney audience, the haphazard and logistically difficult nature of the festival weekend was arguably one of its appealing aspects in these early years. Committee member Anton Crouch recalls that festival goers were “always wandering around with baskets or blankets”, and states that:

There was really an extraordinary feeling of camaraderie. And that was necessary because the conditions were primitive both with regard to the venues and the quality of the projection. The Annexe was notorious for the fact that it was freezing cold in winter time. It was literally a prefabricated asbestos shed. The Wallace Theatre was characterised by the fact that to get into the rows people had to stand up to let you in. What people used to do was walk on the writing platforms.[60]

As the early Sydney audience consisted primarily of university students from a variety of disciplines, rather than of film society members with a specific interest in film, the films sometimes seemed to play a secondary role at the Festival. For example, Kevin Troy recalls that at the 1956 Sydney Film Festival the cans of film containing Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai were not numbered, and hence shown in completely different order at its many screenings. However, no-one in the audience appeared to be concerned.[61]

From an administrative perspective, in the early years the Sydney Festival may not have been as established or professional as Melbourne, but it nonetheless clearly had an atmosphere that many of its organisers remember with affection. Committee member Ross Tzannes recalls that

The university campus, that was the place to have the festival … The idea of being able to picnic between the films and to be able to discuss films with other people like that created a much more relaxed atmosphere … And of course the ambience was fantastic too.[62]


* * * * *

By 1958, both the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals had established themselves as the major annual film culture events in their city. Melbourne had taken a number of steps towards professionalisation and expansion, while Sydney at this stage still remained a largely amateur event driven by the enthusiasm of local filmmakers. Despite these differences, both Sydney and Melbourne retained much of the structure laid out by the Olinda Festival in 1952. However, as the next paper will discuss, the Festivals’ cultural autonomy came increasingly under threat, as their growing size and prestige brought them into direct contact (and conflict) with the demands of ‘industry’.


[1] For a full discussion of the points made in these papers, see Author, “A History of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, 1945-1972” (PhD diss., 2004).
[2] For discussion of this point, see Author, 6-8.
[3]For two influential developments of these ideas, see esp. the work of P. Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, ed. R. Johnson, trans. R. Nice (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993) and T. Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (London: Blackwell, 1990).
[4] For an overview of these developments, see the relevant entries in G. Nowell-Smith, ed., The Oxford History of World Cinema (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).
[5] Allan Ashbolt, interview by Graham Shirley, Sydney, 2 October 1992 (Sydney Film Festival, Oral History Archives).
[6] For further information on the post-war context and the growth of the Australian film society movement, see Author, ch. 1.
[7] Olinda Film Festival – 1952 programme, 1.
[8] Olinda 1952 programme, passim.
[9] Olinda 1952 programme, passim.
[10]  Olinda 1952 programme, 18-19.
[11] Olinda 1952 programme, 1-11.
[12] See A. Moran, “Media intellectuals,” in B. Head and J. Walter, eds., Intellectual Movements and Australian Society (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1988), 116ff.
[13]  Olinda 1952 programme, 8.
[14] Olinda 1952 programme, 8.
[15] A. Heintz, “Miracle at Olinda,” Walkabout 30 (1964): 28.
[16] Heintz, 29; see also “Olinda Film Festival,” Guardian, 9 February 1952.
[17] Heintz, 28.
[18] Melbourne Film Festival – Minutes of Meetings, Archive Box No. 1 (State Library of Victoria). However, this change of name does not seem to have been well publicised at first, as Film Weekly, e.g., is still referring to it as the “Australian Film Festival” in 1953 (Film Weekly, 26 February 1953, 10).
[19]  MFF – Min., 24 July 1952, Box No. 1.
[20] Melbourne Film Festival – 1953 programme, 3.
[21] Melbourne Film Festival – 1953 programme, 21.
[22] Melbourne Film Festival – 1953 programme, 21.
[23] Heintz, 28; also noted by Edward Schefferle, interview by author, Melbourne, 10 June 1998.
[24] Heintz, 28.
[25] MFF – Min., 1 July 1953, Box No. 1.
[26] Heintz, 28-9.
[27] MFF – Min., 8 November 1972, Box No. 33.
[28] MFF – Min., 1 July 1953, Box No. 1.
[29] MFF – Min., 1 July 1953, Box No. 1.
[30] MFF – Min., 1 July 1953, Box No. 1.
[31]MFF – Min., 19 July 1954, Box No. 1.
[32]MFF – Min., 19 July 1954, Box No. 1.
[33] Melbourne Film Festival – 1955 programme, 1.
[34] Melbourne 1955 programme, 1.
[35] Melbourne 1955 programme, 29.
[36] Melbourne 1955 programme, 5.
[37] Melbourne 1955 programme, 5.
[38] MFF – Min., 1 January 1958, Box No. 6.
[39] For various personal recollections of Rado, see P. Kalina (ed.), A Place to Call Home (Melbourne: Melbourne International Film Festival, 2001).
[40] MFF – Min., 27 May 1958, Box No. 3.
[41] Melbourne Film Festival – 1958 programme, 2.
[42] See, e.g., I. Bertrand and D. Collins, Government and film in Australia (Sydney: Currency Press, 1981).
[43] Melbourne 1958 programme .
[44] MFF – Min., 1 January 1958, Box No. 6.
[45] MFF – Min., 19 July 1954, Box No. 1.
[46] MFF – Min., 3 December 1958, Box No. 6.
[47] N.B., lack of documentation makes it harder to get a clear and detailed picture of the events leading up to the first Sydney Festival, and its first three years. This is because minutes from meetings for the period 1954 to June 1958 are not included in the Sydney Film Festival archives, and their whereabouts are unknown.
[48] G. Shirley and B. Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years  (Sydney: Angus and Robertson and Currency Press, 1985), 194.
[49] E.g., while Melbourne’s Australian content over this period was less than 10%, more than 25% of the films shown in Sydney in 1954 were Australian productions. Similar figures hold for the remaining years in this period. (Figures drawn from the relevant Festival programmes.)
[50] Joseph Lonsdale, interview by Graham Shirley, Sydney, 16 October 1992 (Sydney Film Festival, Oral History Archive). Figures on the SFF committee included John Heyer (Head of Production of Shellshear Museum film unit in Australia), John Kingsford-Smith (Kingscroft Productions), Stanley Hawes and Malcolm Otton from the Department of Information, and Frank Bellingham, President of the NSW Amateur Cine Society.
[51] Joseph Lonsdale, interview by Graham Shirley, Sydney, 16 October 1992 (Sydney Film Festival, Oral History Archive).
[52] Sydney Film Festival – 1956 programme , 1.
[53] Sydney Film Festival – 1957 programme , 1.
[54] These problems had also been noted in a scathing review of the 1954 Sydney Festival in the Australian film trade journal Film Weekly , 17 June 1954, 1.
[55] All quotes are from S. Edwards, “Directors Report: 1958 Film Festival”, Sydney Film Festival – Minutes of Meetings, Archive Box No. 1 (State Library of NSW).
[56] Film Weekly , 17 June 1954, 1.
[57] Edwards, “Directors Report”.
[58] SFF – Min., 4 November 1958, Box No. 1.
[59] Ian Klava, interview by Graham Shirley, Sydney, 28 November 1991 (Sydney Film Festival, Oral History Archives).
[60] Anton Crouch in Sydney Film Festival, 40 Years of Film: An Oral History of the Sydney Film Festival (Sydney: Beaver Press, 1993), 5.
[61] Kevin Troy in 40 Years of Film , 5.
[62] Kevin Troy in 40 Years of Film , 5.

Created on: Monday, 13 March 2006 | Last Updated: 13-Mar-06

About the Author

Cathy Hope and Adam Dickerson

About the Authors

Cathy Hope

Cathy Hope is a lecturer in communication theory and practice at the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra. Cathy's research interests include the history and operations of cultural organisations, and non-profit sector marketing strategies.

Adam Dickerson

Adam Dickerson studied history and philosophy at the University of NSW. He has been teaching at the University of Canberra for the past ten years, first in Communication and Media, and now in International Studies. His research interests include epistemology, communication ethics, and cultural history.View all posts by Cathy Hope and Adam Dickerson →