Melbourne University Film Society
Uploaded 5 June, 1998
October 1998 will be the 50th anniversary of the first committee meeting of The Melbourne University Film Society (MUFS).
March 1999 will be 50th anniversary of MUFS first screening (of the film Battleship Potemkin) at the University ofMelbourne ‘s Union Theatre.
The Melbourne Cinematheque (the Cinematheque) is the successor to this original Melbourne University Film Society and its associated graduate film society, The University Film Group (UFG). The Cinematheque’s establishment in 1984 directly continued on from MUFS’s on and off-campus activities; and its tradition.
In the ’50s and ’60s the Melbourne University Film Society helped to pioneer repertory and cultural film exhibition in Melbourne. It was a joint founder of both the Melbourne Film Festival and the Australian Film Institute. Its publications and research groups are central to the beginnings of Cinema Studies in Australia, whilst its film production activities gave the first taste of filmaking to many who would go on to contribute to the revival of feature film production in the early ’70s.
The Melbourne Cinematheque intends to celebrate its 50 year contribution to Australian screen culture in a way that would not only publicise and reflect our activities as an exhibitor and participant in Australia’s screen culture over these decades, but would raise the Australian public’s awareness of the parallel historical development of our national Cinema and screen culture since 1948.
We want to celebrate what we believe to be essential to this history: the activities of enthusiast exhibitors and filmakers in the Film Society movement. We want to show how these ‘alternative’ cultural activities significantly inspired and contributed to the formation of the Australian screen industry and culture we have today; how they were crucial in providing Australian audiences, potential film makers and film marketeers with alternative ways and contexts, for making and showing Cinema, to those of Hollywood and Australia’s then existing commercial film industry. And we want to publicise the vital part MUFS had to play in this development. As Stuart Cunningham and William D. Routt wrote about the post-war film society movement in Cinema in Australia, A Documentary History (New South Wales University Press 1989):
… following the Second World War the interest in and appreciation of film began to grow exponentially… Its effect should not be minimised: the mind set created by post-war Australian film culture was undoubtedly the single factor most responsible for the renaissance of production in the seventies.
The history of the film societies in Australia remains largely unwritten. However…film societies… fostered film appreciation, the educative potential of the cinema, and serious attention to the art of the film’ through their screenings, notes, lectures, pamphlets, and not the least, through articles and film magazines. (p.182-83).
Most of the celebration will take place in 1999. In the meantime, we want to hear from any former MUFS members (especially former committee members) as a part of a modest oral history project for eventual publication on the Cinematheque’s Web site. We are also interested in anyone with collections of MUFS memorablia, or who have any ideas about how we can celebrate 50 years of Australian film culture.
Contact Quentin Turnour on 61 3 9329 6890/fax 61 3 9650 2562.