‘Give It a Go You Apes’: Relations Between the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, and the Early Australian Film Industry (1954–1970)

This paper extends our previous analyses of the early history of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, by examining the relations between the festivals and the Australian film industry, from 1954 to 1970. [1] Like those previous papers, it is built on the premise that the history of the two Festivals is best understood as an ongoing negotiation between the demands of ‘culture’ (that is, what is required of the festivals in their role as self-conscious representatives of film culture) and the demands of ‘industry’ (that is, what is required of the festivals to prosper as organisations embedded within a web of institutions of film production, distribution, and the like). The relationship between the Festivals and the Australian film industry in these years is of historical interest for two reasons. First, it provides an alternative perspective on the industry during this period. Second, it offers an interesting illustration of the creative strategies used by the Festivals to survive and flourish, whilst maintaining their institutional and cultural identity.

The fundamental problem vis-á-vis the Australian film industry that the Film Festivals faced during these early years is easily stated. On the one hand, during this period the Festivals are one of the main theatrical exhibition outlets for Australian film and consider the promotion of domestic product a central part of their cultural role. In addition, the Festivals’ status as key populist institutions of non-commercial film culture in Australia made them a natural ally for the emergent industry. On the other hand, until the renaissance of the industry in the 1970s there was very little feature film production in Australia, and the quality of the films made tended to be low. This thus created a conflict between the two different conceptions of ‘culture’ that largely defined the programming choices of the Festivals: film as art and film as a cultural document. Whilst the inclusion of the Australian films could clearly be justified from a sociological perspective (and perhaps, more importantly, as a way of encouraging domestic industry), their inclusion was not as easily defended on artistic grounds.

As with other such conflicts in the history of these two organisations (as discussed in our previous papers), the Festivals were led to develop a range of creative resolutions of the tension between the conflicting imperatives of supporting good cinema, and supporting non-Hollywood/national cinemas. This second imperative was of course even more important in the case of Australian cinema precisely because these films were made locally—and because the ‘players’ of this industry were both members of the film festival audience, and, in some cases, of the Festival coordinating committees.

As this paper will show, during this period the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals establish themselves as key institutional allies of the Australian film industry—a relationship which continues to this day.

* * *

From the time of their precursor, the very first Australian International Film Festival in Olinda in 1952, the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals had considered the encouragement of Australian film and the Australian film industry to be a central part of their cultural role. This is indicated in the statement of support from then Prime Minister Robert Menzies in the Olinda programme, where he wrote that “I hope [this festival] will encourage even higher standards of film production in Australia”. [2] This role was performed in a number of ways. The central strategy was via direct encouragement of Australian film, first, by screening films produced in Australia, and, second, by offering incentives for local production. The Olinda Festival thus established the first Australian film competition—the Commonwealth Jubilee Awards—which performed both of these roles simultaneously. As will be shown below, the concept of a festival ‘Competition’ would become the Festivals’ key response to providing overt support to the local film industry.

Along with this provision of concrete incentives for film production, the ‘Festival experience’ itself functioned as an important, if less tangible, encouragement for cinematic development. The Olinda organising committee was conscious that the Festival would provide opportunities for an intense engagement with film culture. Festival-goers (including, of course, local filmmakers) would be exposed to a broad range of cinematic trends and techniques from around the world. This viewing experience would be enhanced and supported by a variety of discussions, seminars and networking opportunities. In other words, it was hoped that Olinda would help to generate a healthy film culture environment from which great Australian film production might evolve. [3]

As argued in a previous paper, Olinda serves as the precursor for the cultural identity of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, who also saw themselves as having a responsibility to support the Australian film industry. [4] The first Melbourne Film Festival programme in 1953 claimed in a section entitled “High Ambitions” that it aimed to be “a ‘shop-window’ for Australian productions, and act as a stimulus to film making in this country.” It goes on to bind its role as exhibitor of world cinema to this “High Ambition” by stating that, “Like other Festivals also, it will tend to raise film standards everywhere”. [5] However, and as has been well documented elsewhere, the paucity of Australian films during this time meant that for Melbourne, the shop-window role would remain only an ambition. Instead of a programme of Australian film there was a Discussion Session entitled ‘Future of Film in Australia’. The programme summary of this session reads:

Film in Australia has a future. The true concern is the quality and direction of that future. Past performance is certainly no assurance that at last filmmakers are about to make the most of their Australian heritage. Everyone knows that film in this country has not yet reached its maturity. Where has it failed? [6]

In perhaps what might be considered as a public justification for such an absence, prior to the 1953 Melbourne Film Festival, committee member Alfred Heintz went on record in the local film trade rag Film Weekly saying that the lack of feature film production in Australia undercut “one of the Festival’s chief aims [which was] to boost local film production and encourage its development,” and remarked that “We even had to ‘scrape the bottom of the barrel’ to get sufficient Australian documentary shorts for exhibition.” [7]

In contrast to Melbourne, the Sydney Film Festival’s relationship with the Australian film industry was made more complex because many of Australia’s filmmakers and filmmaking organisations were Sydney-based.  The Department of Information Films Division, the Shell Film Unit and numerous independent organisations all served to position Sydney at this time as the hub of the Australian film industry. It is thus unsurprising that the early Sydney organising committee contained many representatives from this industry. [8] At the first Sydney Film Festival in 1954, nearly a quarter of the films screened were Australian, with the greater majority of these made by Festival committee members themselves. Indeed, the Festival was largely funded by Kingscroft Productions, an independent filmmaking company run by Sydney Committee member John Kingsford-Smith. [9]

The Melbourne Film Festival, on the other hand, was primarily organised and attended by key members of the film society and film culture movement, that is, by ‘film buffs’ who were interested in film as an art form, rather than in film as a technical product, or film production per se. In these early years, the Melbourne organising committee thus tended to programme far less Australian product than Sydney did, simply because most of that product did not meet the criterion of ‘artistic quality’. This can be seen in the fact that, in comparison with Sydney’s ratio mentioned above, the Melbourne programmes from 1955 to 1958 averaged at a mere 10 per cent for Australian film content. [10]

This key difference in programme composition helps to explain the contrast between Melbourne’s rapid emergence as Australia’s ‘best’ film festival, and Sydney’s rather less glamorous status at this time as an ‘amateur event’. [11] In words that thus could not have been written about the Sydney Festival at this date, the Australian film-culture journal Film Guide remarked of Melbourne’s 1956 Festival:

[It] not only eclipses all previous Festivals, but has become more international in scope and outlook. With its imposing line-up of features from thirteen countries … Melbourne is beginning to emulate the function of European Festivals in providing a show window for the pick of the world’s films. [12]

None of this is to say that the Melbourne organising committee had ceased to see support of the Australian film industry as an important component of the Festival’s cultural role. They saw the current state of affairs as unsatisfactory, and sought for ways to meet their commitment to the industry, without thereby undermining their ‘artistic’ credibility.

One way in which the Melbourne Festival committee attempted to address this issue, was to make use of the Festival’s growing cultural stature to increase public awareness of the paucity of Australian film. For example, the Director Erwin Rado wrote a lengthy article for Argus in 1956, rueing the absence of any Australian feature film in the Melbourne Festival programme for that year, and describing this state of affairs as “deplorable”. [13]

Another way was to develop a framework which offered support for filmmaking activity in Australia. Thus in 1958, the Melbourne Film Festival established the first ‘Australian Film Awards’. The Awards in that year consisted of the following categories: Documentary, Educational, Advertising and Open. In 1959 the Awards were further expanded to include the categories Public Relations and Experimental. The absence of any categories for fictional short and feature film is itself an eloquent comment on the state of the Australian film industry at this time.

The establishment of the Australian Film Awards are a clear example of the way in which the Festivals were led to develop creative strategies to meet the demands of multiple compelling, but sometimes conflicting, cultural imperatives. In this case, there was, on the one hand, a felt need to screen only ‘quality’ or ‘artistically valuable’ cinema; and, on the other hand, a need to support the non-Hollywood—and particularly the Australian—film industry. The Award framework provided a neat resolution of this dilemma, by being screened as a separate programme within the 1958 Festival. In this way, the Award entrants were treated as a privileged and special component of the Festival, whilst simultaneously being excluded from the Festival proper.[14]

Melbourne’s approach to supporting the Australian film industry continued in this way throughout much of the 1960s, as the industry remained in its state of torpor. Over this period there was an almost complete absence of bona-fide feature film production. [15] Despite some increase in concern about this absence on the part of government (with, for example, the release of the Vincent Report in 1964), the Menzies government was unwilling to provide any direct incentives for film production. [16]

In contrast to Melbourne, during the early 1960s the Sydney Film Festival continued to screen a much larger body of Australian-made film (both amateur and professional). Unlike Melbourne, Sydney did not offer an Award programme for Australian film. This was perhaps because the Sydney Festival committee was so dominated by key filmmakers, that major conflicts of interest would have been unavoidable. Like Melbourne, the Sydney Festival also worked to position itself as, in part, a promotional body for the film industry. This role was publicly acknowledged by Senator Vincent (of the eponymous Vincent Report) in a speech at a 1964 Sydney Festival forum entitled “The Australian Film Industry: What of its Future?” [17] In this influential speech, Vincent argued that the Film Festivals had the potential to become a key lobby group for the national film industry. [18]

However, Sydney’s commitment to screening an extensive programme of both professional and amateur Australian film became increasingly problematic for its success as a cultural institution. By 1964 the committee was expressing its concerns about declining attendance for the Australian programme. It was also conscious that Melbourne’s much greater success in these early years was due, in part, to its lower commitment to the local product, and its consequently more ‘cosmopolitan’ programme. [19] It seems likely that these perceptions were one of the factors behind the appointment of David Stratton to the Sydney Film Festival committee in that year. Stratton was an outspoken critic of the substandard Australian programme, and was to bring about a rapid change in the strategic direction of the Sydney Festival. As we have argued elsewhere, his appointment led to a swift redress of the balance of power between Sydney and Melbourne, and a concurrent rise in status for the Sydney Festival both at home and abroad. [20]

Stratton brought a new perspective to the Sydney Film Festival organising committee for two reasons. First, he possessed an up-to-date and encyclopaedic knowledge of both commercial and non-commercial cinema. This made him the authority in the Sydney organising committee on current trends in world cinema. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly for this narrative, Stratton came into the committee as an outsider. He lacked the connections and consequent loyalties to the Australian film industry (such as it was) which constrained the programme choices of many of the other committee members and associates. These two factors, in conjunction with his extraordinary energy and commitment, gave Stratton the freedom to carry out a series of wide-ranging changes to the organisation.

Stratton’s initial perception of the Sydney Film Festival was that it was “amateurish”. [21] He considered the University of Sydney to be a crude and unreliable venue, the methods of procurement outdated and unprofessional, and the Festival’s programme an embarrassment. [22] In particular, Stratton felt that Sydney’s success was compromised by the poor quality of the Australian programme. He recalls of his first time at the Festival:

… I don’t quite know what I expected, but what I got was having to sit through interminable short films made by [the] Commonwealth Film Unit. And believe me they were bad … I didn’t want to waste a lot of my time watching short films about the public service or whatever it was. [23]

After the 1964 Festival, Stratton lodged a formal complaint with Sydney Film Festival President Frank Bellingham concerning the opening night documentary, Music in the Making. This film had been produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit (CFU) and co-directed by Sydney Festival committee member Malcolm Otton. Stratton was so “appalled” by this film that he requested his name be dissociated from its selection. [24] He was informed that committee member Stanley Hawes was also Producer-in-Chief of the CFU, and as such the Festival felt “obliged” to screen CFU films. [25] As Stratton recalls:

I thought that the films made by the CFU were stinkers—especially seeing as it had been originally been set up by Grierson, similar to the National Film Board of Canada (NFBC). And in the ’60s the NFBC was making extraordinary films [while] the stuff they were making up at Lindfield was just terrible. And I thought Stanley had just capitulated to governments, and just was turning out bland stuff. So he was sitting on the Board of the Festival, and the implication was you’ve got to show the ‘best’ of Commonwealth Film Unit Films. [26]

In a sign that Stratton’s complaint about the CFU production had struck a chord with some members of the committee, and perhaps also feeling that the Festival could use some of his energy, Stratton was elected to the Committee at the 1964 AGM. By 1966, he would take over the role of Sydney Film Festival Director.

With Stratton at the helm of the Sydney Film Festival, and in response to the arrival of competition in the form of other film festivals in Australia, the relationship between Sydney and Melbourne became much closer and more amicable. [27] This developing partnership is reflected in their joint approach to the Australian film industry. Thus, in 1966 it was agreed that Sydney would, for the first time, co-host the Australian Film Awards. In the process of film procurement for these Awards, the Sydney and Melbourne organising committees realised there were so few feature films available for the Awards, that the event was likely to become something of an embarrassment. As the Melbourne Film Festival Minutes note, the lack of films “meant that the Awards were superfluous, because you could almost always predict who could win.” [28] For this reason, it was decided that the event would no longer be held within the Film Festivals proper, but as a distinct event later in the year (in November).[29]

The lack of Australian product also created obvious problems for the Australian content within the Festivals. For the 1966 Festivals, the situation was so bad that the Melbourne organisers were driven to show a retrospective of “Damien Parer films and 1 or 2 old Australian feature films”. The Minutes note sadly that:

This programme would obviate the necessity of the Festival selecting suitable recent material … In discussion, regrets were expressed at the absence of currently produced Australian films. [30]

For the 1967 Melbourne Festival, it was recommended that Australian films no longer be presented in groups, “but be distributed throughout the programme” [31] —arguably on the grounds that, diluting the films in such a fashion would be less painful to the audience than a concentrated dose.

In a similar fashion, for its 1967 Festival, Sydney was driven to break its policy of premier screenings (i.e. screening films that had not been seen before a Sydney audience) for Australian films because of the paucity of product. In the Minutes, this decision was given the optimistic justification that it would act as an “encouragement of Australian films”. [32] Unsurprisingly, the Sydney Festival ‘Australian Film Advisory Panel’—the portentous name given to the sub-committee that short-listed Australian films for Stratton to choose from—found itself with very little to do. After the 1968 Sydney Festival, the Sydney Festival ‘Australian Advisory Panel’ decided to follow Melbourne’s lead and abolished the separate programme. [33] In addition, this panel sent a letter to every film producer in Australia requesting information on forthcoming films. [34] However, the response to this canvas was “nil”.[35]

If the lack of quality Australian films in this period thus created problems for the Festivals in their role as an exhibition venue, it nonetheless was a cause to which they could usefully give publicity. In this way, the Festivals were able to attract mainstream press coverage and even political attention. For the issue of regenerating the Australian film industry appealed both to ‘culturalist’ views (e.g., of the broadsheet film critics), and to a more parochial nationalism (typical, e.g., of the tabloid press of the period).

Thus although 1967 was clearly a bad year for the production of Australian film, this state of affairs was not going unnoticed in broader circles. The screening at the Festivals of Tony Buckley’s film Forgotten Cinema, which was a commentary on the state of Australian film industry:

… caused a sensation. As a result, Doug McClelland [member of the Vincent Committee] organised a screening at Parliament House and that resulted in the famous quote from Hansard, where he stood up in the House and asked for members to hang their heads in shame for what had not been done for the Australian film industry. He was called to order, but as a result the lack of support for Australian film became a political question. [36]

In a similar fashion, the Australian Film Awards also provided the Festivals with a natural forum for discussing the state of Australian cinema. This gave the award ceremony more publicity—and, indeed, the poverty of the competition in this period served to underline the points being made. For example, at the 1968 Sydney AFI Awards, the President of the British Screen Writers’ Guild, Lord Ted Willis, made a speech in which he argued for increased government support—remarking that “the government’s present attitude towards the Australian film industry was like sending an athlete to the Mexico Olympic Games with a sack of coals on his back”. [37] This speech was thought significant enough by the local film trade to warrant a front-page article in its main rag, Film Weekly. The same year, at the conclusion of the 1968 Melbourne Festival, Barry Jones (then a member of the Australian Arts Council) gave a speech arguing for government support for domestic film production, which also received substantial coverage in Film Weekly. [38]

The end of the 1960s also sees the key figures in the two Film Festivals become more involved with organisations that have a role in the direct promotion of Australian film. Melbourne Director Erwin Rado had held the role of the Director of the Australian Film Institute since its inception in 1959. By the end of the 1960s the AFI was preparing to establish and administer the ‘Experimental Film Fund’ using a government grant for that purpose.[39] In 1967, Stratton vied, albeit unsuccessfully, to become Director of the National Film Theatre of Australia. [40] In addition, the Festivals were an important part of the impetus that led to the formation of the Australian Film Council, an independent lobby group for the advancement of local film production.[41]

While such promotional activity adhered to the Festivals’ cultural imperative of advancing ‘non-commercial’ and ‘independent’ film production, the issue of screening quality Australian cinema remained problematic for them. In 1969, this issue was exacerbated by the appearance of two Australian feature-length films of arguably questionable quality and appeal: Tim Burstall’s 2000 Weeks, and Albie Thoms’s experimental Marinetti. 2000 Weeks was the first fully-fledged Australian feature film that had been made in some years. Pike and Cooper describe the film as being “about the isolation and frustration of an artist in … the wasteland of Australian culture”.[42] Stratton’s recollection of the film is more terse: “low-budget, black and white, with artistic pretensions.”[43]

2000 Weeks had already received commercial release in Melbourne earlier in 1969, and had been panned by most critics. [44] However, despite its lack of critical and commercial success, and its prior commercial release, the two Festival organising committees felt compelled to screen it as it was the first new Australian feature film for some time. Burstall’s film was very poorly received at both Festivals. The Sun’s Anne Deveson reported that 2000 Weeks was “virtually booed out of Melbourne”, while “Sydney audiences … just laughed”. [45] Stratton said it “was the most awful night” with the lead actress Jeanie Drynan bursting into tears during the screening and running out of the cinema. [46] Australian director George Miller recalls the Sydney Festival screening as follows:

No-one who was there at the screening could forget it. This was the first genuine Australian film, Australian budgeted and Australian shot, for many years, and the audience started to titter at some of the more purple passages of narration. I remember someone connected with the film stood up and yelled out, “Give it a go, you apes”.[47]

The second film, Albie Thoms’s full-length experimental Marinetti, was perhaps the most ambitious project to date of the Australian avant-garde. [48] The programming response from the two Festivals demonstrates the difficulties they had with justifying its inclusion. After internal debate, Melbourne decided not to screen Marinetti at all. The Sydney organising committee, on the other hand, felt compelled to screen Thoms’s film, as it was one of the major products of the Sydney-based independent filmmaking collective, Ubu. However, because of committee concerns about audience reaction to the film, Marinetti was screened after the Closing Night—and thus, strictly speaking, was not part of the Festival proper. According to Shirley and Adams, this screening “prompted walk-outs and a stormy press”, with the Sun cartoonist referring to it as Macaroni, and an editorial describing it as “a tin-pot film about nothing”. [49]

After the debacle of the 1969 screenings of these two Australian films, the Film Festivals were forced to reconsider the place of Australian content within the festival structure. Indeed, there were some suggestions that the Festivals should cease to showcase Australian product altogether. For example, the Melbourne President, Ray Fisher, argued that the products of young Australian filmmakers—in particular, the more experimental works of such groups as Ubu and Carlton—should not be included at all within the Festivals. This was because, he argued, the Festivals were “not the place where such programmes should be presented” [50] —although precisely what he meant by ‘such programmes’ remains unclear.

Stratton had held similar views for a long time, arguing that the Festival existed to show quality films from around the world, and therefore should not show Australian film merely because it was Australian. According to Sydney President Ross Tzannes, Stratton’s position on this issue was strengthened by the poor reception of 2000 Weeks. Indeed, Tzannes goes further, and accuses Stratton of being biased against Australian cinema:

He was against it. He really didn’t like Australian film and he didn’t want to show it. And we used to fight tooth and nail about that. …  [I]t became very difficult because a perception grew in the film community that showing a[n Australian] film at the Festival was a kiss of death, and David used to use that as a major reason for not showing them as well.[51]

The problems the Festivals faced regarding their relations with the burgeoning experimental film movement were brought to a head at the end of 1969, when the Sydney Film Festival received a letter of protest against its treatment of Australian films, and a petition from the Australian Filmmakers Cooperative (essentially made up of members of Ubu and Carlton) demanding that it showcase Australian avant-garde products.[52]

In response to the issues and incidents of 1969, Stratton tabled a report at the first Sydney Film Festival meeting in 1970 entitled “Into the 70s: Where do we go?” In this overview, Stratton wrote that:

An increasing difficulty in recent years has been the choice of Australian films. This is another area in which feelings run very high. Should the Festival devote more time to Australian films? Are we prejudiced against Australian films? It can be said that it would basically be wrong for us to give undue emphasis to Australian films … our subscribers come to see foreign films they may not be able to see outside the Festival.[53]

Wrong or not, in the end and under pressure from the committee, Stratton agreed to compromise on the issue of Australian films, and for the 1970 Sydney Festival, established an Australian short film competition—an idea that originally came from Albie Thoms. [54] The 1970 Australian Short Film Awards were also the Sydney Festival’s first private sponsorship deal. The money for the prizes ($1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place) was provided by the giant tobacco company, Benson and Hedges. [55] Fifty-two short films in total were entered for the Awards, and these were cut to a short-list of ten to be screened throughout the Festival. The short-listing panel consisted of Don Anderson (film critic of Nation), David Bairstow (visiting film producer from the National Film Board of Canada) and Phil Jones (managing director of Sydney’s Gala Cinema). [56]

The winners of the 1970 Short Film Awards are in themselves a demonstration of the sorry state of Australian cinema over this period. First prize was won by a documentary on the dangers of drug addiction entitled No Rose for Michael, and directed by 24 year old Christopher McGill. Third place was taken by six students from North Sydney Boys High School for their film It Could Happen Here. The third prize allocation led the Sunday Telegraph’s Kerry McGlynn to state:

It is a sad commentary on the Australian film industry that half a dozen schoolboys using an old-fashioned borrowed camera and a budget of $187.35 can pick up third prize at the Sydney Film Festival … As 18-year-old Ron Marton, the film’s producer and cameraman put it to me: “Technically our film was awful and we couldn’t understand how we made the top ten – until we saw the other entries.” [57]


We have argued above that the period from 1954 to 1970 sees the Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals commit to overt support for the Australian film industry, and actively seek out a range of methods for fulfilling this commitment. However, given the state of the film industry over this period, adherence to this cultural imperative clashed with the Festivals’ commitment to show ‘quality’ film, and their fundamental institutional need to generate attendance and a public profile. The two main strategies used for resolving this dilemma were the establishment of ‘Award’ programmes for Australian film, and the use of the Festivals as a site for publicity and lobbying for the improvement of the Australian film industry. These strategies, and the broader popular success of the Sydney and Melbourne Festivals over this period, established them as key film culture sites in Australia, and thus positioned them to play important roles in the revival of the Australian film industry in the 1970s.

[1] See: Cathy Hope and Adam Dickerson, “‘Films for the intelligent layman’: the origins of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals (1952-1958)”, Screening the Past, no. 19 (March 2006), http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/current/issue-19.html ; “‘Ill-will with the trade’: The Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals 1959 -1964” and “‘Separating the Sheep from the Goats’: The Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals 1965-1972” both in Screening the Past, no. 20 (December 2006) , http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/current/issue-20.html.
[2] Olinda Film Festival programme, 5.
[3] For further discussion, see “‘Films for the intelligent layman’: the origins of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals (1952-1958)”, Screening the Past, no. 19 (March 2006), http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/current/issue-19.html
[4] See “‘Films for the intelligent layman’: the origins of the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals (1952-1958)”.
[5] Melbourne Film Festival 1953 programme, 3.
[6] Melbourne Film Festival 1953 programme, 31.
[7] Film Weekly, “Solid Support for Melbourne Film Festival”, 12 March 1953, 9.
[8] These included John Heyer (Head of Shellshear Museum Film Unit), John Kingsford-Smith (Kingscroft Productions), and Stanley Hawes and Malcolm Otton from the Department of Information.
[9] Joseph Lonsdale, interviewed by Graham Shirley, 16 October 1992 (Sydney Film Festival, Oral History Archive).
[10] See Melbourne Film Festival and Sydney Film Festival programmes from this period.
[11] See Cathy Hope and Adam Dickerson, “‘Separating the Sheep from the Goats’: The Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals 1965-1972”.
[12] Melbourne Film Festival (MFF) – Archives, “1956 Film Festival”, Film Guide, press clippings, Box No. 36.
[13] MFF – Arch., Argus, 22 May 1956, in “Melbourne Film Festival – 1956 Festival Folder”, press clippings, Box No. 3.
[14] Melbourne Film Festival 1958 programme.
[15] As noted, for example, in G. Shirley and B. Adams, Australian cinema: the first eighty years (Sydney: Angus and Robertson and Currency Press, 1985) 227. One of the exceptions to this is Giorgio Mangiamele’s Clay (1965), which won a number of AFI awards, and was invited to compete at Cannes.
[16] S. Dermody and L. Jacka, The Screening of Australia: anatomy of a film industry, Vol. 1, (Sydney: Currency, 1987), 1.
[17] Shirley & Adams, 213.
[18] The speech is cited in 40 Years of Film: An Oral History of the Sydney Film Festival, (Sydney: Beaver Press, 1993),   15.
[19] Sydney Film Festival (SFF) – Minutes, 6 October 1964, Box No. 1.
[20] Hope & Dickerson, “‘Separating the Sheep from the Goats’: The Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals 1965-1972”.
[21] David Stratton, interview by Cathy Hope, 29 September 1997
[22] SFF – Oral History Archive, David Stratton, self-conducted interview, date unknown.
[23] David Stratton, interview by Cathy Hope, 29 September 1997.
[24] SFF – Min., 7 July 1964, Box No. 1.
[25] David Stratton, interview by Cathy Hope, 29 September 1997.
[26] David Stratton, interview by Cathy Hope, 29 September 1997.
[27] For more discussion of this, see “‘Separating the Sheep from the Goats’: The Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals 1965-1972”.
[28] MFF – Min., 23 February 1966, Box No. 14.
[29] MFF – Min., 23 February 1966, Box No. 14.
[30] MFF – Min., 23 February 1966, Box No. 14.
[31] MFF – Min., 3 August 1967, Box No. 14.
[32] SFF – Min., 14 February 1967, Box No. 2.
[33] Film Weekly. “No Australian Program for Syd. Film Festival”, 29 May 1969.
[34] SFF – Min., 6 August 1968, Box No. 2.
[35] SFF – Min., 7 January 1969. Box. No. 2.
[36] 40 Years of Film, 15.
[37] Film Weekly, 14 November 1968, 1.
[38] Film Weekly, 20 June 1968, 1.
[39] For a history of the AFI, see Lisa French & Mark Poole, Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute (St. Kilda, VIC: Australian Teachers of Media, 2009).
[40] MFF – Correspondence, David Stratton to Erwin Rado, 14 February 1968, Box No. 44.
[41] Dermody & Jacka, 52-3.
[42] In T. O’Regan, Australian National Cinema, (New York: Routledge, 1996), 223.
[43] David Stratton, interview with Cathy Hope, 29 March 1998.
[44] Shirley and Adams, 231.
[45] MFF – Arch., “Give it a b- go”, Sun, 10 June 1969, press cuttings, Box No. 66.
[46] David Stratton, interview with Cathy Hope, 29 March 1998.
[47] 40 Years of Film, 15.
[48] Two small avant-garde groups of filmmakers had formed by this time: ‘Carlton Cinema’, in Melbourne, and the ‘Ubu Group’ in Sydney. For discussion see, for example, Albie Thoms, “The Australian Avant-garde” [1972] in A. Moran and T. O’Regan (eds.), An Australian Film Reader (Sydney: Currency Press, 1985), 279–280.
[49] Shirley and Adams, 226.
[50] MFF – Min., 4 September 1969, Box No. 14.
[51] SFF – Oral Hist. Arch., Ross Tzannes, interview by Graham Shirley, 7 September 1992.
[52] Barret Hodsdon, interview by Cathy Hope, 12 October 1998.
[53] SFF – Min., 3 February 1970, Box No. 2.
[54] SFF – Oral Hist. Arch., David Stratton, self-conducted interview, date unknown.
[55] MFF – Arch., “Benson & Hedges Award for Australian Short Film”, Script, Screen & Art, 5, 1970, press clippings,  Box No. 66.
[56] MFF – Arch., “,000 prize for anti-drug short”, The Film Weekly, 16 June 1970, press clippings, Box No. 66.
[57] MFF – Arch., “This is the life, say boy filmmakers”, 21 June 1970, press clippings, Box No. 66.

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 →