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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

CINEMA REBORN - Episodes from Ian Dunlop's monumental documentary series PEOPLE OF THE AUSTRALIAN WESTERN DESERT (Australia, 1966-1969)

Most people who have seen anything at all of Ian Dunlop’s remarkable documentaries have seen his hour long film Desert People, a condensation of the first 10 episodes that were shot in 1965. 

Ian Dunlop’s notes about the first film-making expedition in 1965 advise:
Approximately 25,000 feet of 35mm black and white film was shot. I cut this into ten record films, PEOPLE OF THE AUSTRALIAN WESTERN DESERT Parts 1-10, with a total running time of approximately 3 hours. These fall into three clear sections (i) Parts 1 and 2 - Djagamarra and his family whom we met in the desert; (ii) Part 3 - restricted material; and (iii) Parts 4 to 10 - Minma and his family, who were then living at Warburton Mission and agreed to return to their own country for filming.

"From this material I also made a more interpretive “day in the life of” film, DESERT PEOPLE, using footage from the daily life sequences in the other films."

DESERT PEOPLE went on to win prizes at home and abroad including:
Prix Special du Comite Directeur: IX Recontre Cinematographique Internationale de Prades, 1967.
Diploma of Merit: Edinburgh International Film Festival, 1967.
Golden Bucranium (best film of festival): XII International Festival of Scientific and Educational Films, Padua, 1967.
Special Citation (out of competition): Australian Film Awards, Australian Film Institute, 1968.
Diploma of Merit: Melbourne Film Festival, 1969.
Blue Ribbon (First Prize in Anthropology and Archaeology section): 11th American Film Festival, New York, 1969.
Golden Decade Award: U.S. Industrial Film Festival, Chicago, 1971.

Ian Dunlop and the NFSA Award for Film Preservation
In 2009  Ian Dunlop OAM was honoured with the 2009 National Film & Sound Archive  of Australia (NFSA) Award for Film Preservation. The award acknowledges the importance of his work safeguarding films about Australia's Indigenous culture, 

The CINEMA REBORN screening will comprise two full episodes, one from the first series mentioned above and one from the second series derived from a second expedition.

Ian Dunlop’s notes take up the story:

"Two years later, in 1967, a Native Affairs Officer from the Weapons Research Establishment, Bob Verburgt, told me he had met three families living a nomadic hunter/food-gatherer life some 180 kilometres northwest of our 1965 filming location. Following this information I submitted a further film proposal to the CFU and the AIAS along the lines of the 1965 proposal. This was accepted and I mounted a second expedition again with Richard Tucker as cameraman, Paul Porter Djarurru as guide, and with Chris McGill as production assistant.

"A further nine films, PEOPLE OF THE AUSTRALIAN WESTERN DESERT Parts 11-19, were made from material filmed on this trip. Like the earlier films, these were all 35mm black and white (except Part 19, which was shot in colour). Part 12 of this second series, AT PATANTJA CLAYPAN, is a general daily life film (equivalent to DESERT PEOPLE from the 1965 trip)."

Episodes from People of the Australian Western Desert will screen at CINEMA REBORN on Sunday 6 May at 2.30 pm.

CINEMA REBORN - Two classic pieces of Melbourne independent film-making YACKETY YACK (Dave Jones, 1974) and IN THIS LIFE'S BODY (Corinne Cantrill, 1985)

Cinema Reborn has a special focus on the history of the Australian cinema. All told there are five programs devoted to some of the key landmarks of the Australian Cinema over the last fifty years.

Two selections warranting special attention are products of Melbourne independent film-making from the 70s and 80s.

In programming these films we are paying additional homage to the work of the Library of the University of Technology Sydney which agreed to fund the restoration and digitization of the two films. UTS Lecturer in Screen Studies Margot Nash instigated the projects and supervised their restoration and digitization. Now here is an opportunity for Sydney cinephiles to see these two remarkable films.

In the early 1970s, Dave Jones (aka D.B. Jones) was lecturing in the Media Centre at La Trobe University in Melbourne. A thoughtful, polite, reserved man and a Canadian specialist in documentary filmmaking, he suddenly surprised all his colleagues and students by directing one of the most outrageous and idiosyncratic feature films ever to emerge from Australia. That film was Yackety Yack and if you click on the link you can read Rod Bishop’s notes on the film. Rod was Assistant Director on the film and went on to produce a number of films as well as becoming CEO of the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

Screens on Friday 4 May at 11.45am.

Corinne Cantrill and her husband Arthur made over 150 films together for over thirty years. In 1985 Corinne made one of the most extraordinary pieces of filmed autobiography, a monumental record of her own life titled In This Life’s Body.

In the notes on the film which you can find if you click here Corinne writes: “I wanted to trace the story of my life through all the photographs I could find.  I borrowed my childhood photos from my parents, and these were a revelation — they told me so much about myself and my childhood.  I had not expected mere photographs to be so ‘telling’.  They were a trigger to memory, many forgotten experiences re-surfaced.

In the Oxford Companion to Australian Film Ina Bertrand called In This Life’s Body “an autobiographical masterpiece”

Screens on Monday 7 May at 3.00pm