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form y separately published work icon Head On Andrew Bovell , Ana Kokkinos , Mira Robertson , ( dir. Ana Kokkinos ) Australia : Head On Productions , 1998 Z796585 1998 single work film/TV (taught in 6 units)

Set over the course of one night, Head On focuses on Ari, a handsome nineteen-year-old boy of Greek descent who finds himself torn between his traditional upbringing and his sexual identity. As he attempts to come to terms with where he fits in, Ari careens between hanging out with his friends and bickering with his family while also becoming involved in several heterosexual and homosexual encounters.

Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, 2003)
White Fellas Dreaming (George Miller, 1995)
Birthday Boy (Sejong Park, 2004)
form y separately published work icon Toomelah Ivan Sen , ( dir. Ivan Sen ) Australia : Bunya Productions , 2011 Z1776156 2011 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units)

'The film is set entirely in the remote Indigenous community of Toomelah, located on the NSW, QLD border. It was created as a mission during the 1930s, bringing together Gamilaroi and Bigambal people from the surrounding area.

'The story centres on Daniel, a small ten year old boy who dreams of being a gangster. He is kicked out of school and befriends a local gang leader, until a rival gangster arrives back from jail to reclaim his turf. A showdown ensues and Daniel is caught in the middle, leaving him with a choice to make about his uncertain future.

'Toomelah is a deeply personal story, that intimately depicts mission life in contemporary Australia. The film reveals the challenges facing the young Gamilaroi people of the Toomelah Community. Robbed of much of their traditional culture by Government policy, it is a community on a cultural edge, struggling for an identity. It is a provocative and yet comic story that transports audiences inside the community, creating an authentic world and way of life that is Toomelah.'

Source: Toomelah website.

form y separately published work icon Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer , ( dir. Rolf De Heer ) Australia : Fandango Australia Vertigo Productions , 2006 Z1262398 2006 single work film/TV (taught in 11 units)

A story within a story and overlaid with narration, Ten Canoes takes place in two periods in the past. The first story, filmed in black-and-white as a reference to the 1930s ethnographic photography of Donald Thompson, concerns a young man called Dayindi who takes part in his first hunt for goose eggs. During the course of several trips to hunt, gather and build a bark canoe, his older brother Minygululu tells him a story about their ancestors and the old laws. The story is also about a young man who had no wife but who coveted one of his brother's wives, and also of the stranger who disrupted the harmony of their lives. It is cautionary tale because Minygululu is aware that Dayinidi desires his young and pretty third wife.

The second story (shot in colour) is set much further back in time. Yeeralparil is a young man who desires the third wife of his older brother Ridjimiraril. When Ridjimiraril's second wife disappears, he suspects a man from another tribe has been seen near the camp. After he spears the stranger he discovers that he was wrong. Knowing that he must face the man's relatives he chooses Yeeralparil to accompany him during the ritual payback. When Ridjimiraril dies from his wounds the tribe's traditions decree that Yeeralparil must inherit his brother's wives. The burden of these responsibilities, however, is more than the young man expects.

form y separately published work icon First Australians Rachel Perkins , Louis Nowra , Beck Cole , ( dir. Rachel Perkins et. al. )agent Crows Nest Fitzroy Strawberry Hills : Blackfella Films First Nation Films SBS Television , 2008 Z1532374 2008 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units)

'First Australians chronicles the birth of contemporary Australia as never told before, from the perspective of its first people. First Australians explores what unfolds when the oldest living culture in the world is overrun by the world's greatest empire.

'Over seven episodes, First Australians depicts the true stories of individuals - both black and white - caught in an epic drama of friendship, revenge, loss and victory in Australia's most transformative period of history.

'The story begins in 1788 in Sydney, with the friendship between an Englishmen (Governor Phillip) and a warrior (Bennelong) and ends in 1993 with Koiki Mabo's legal challenge to the foundation of Australia. First Australians chronicles the collision of two worlds and the genesis of a new nation.' Source: (Sighted 27/09/2008).

form y separately published work icon Sweetie Gerard Lee , Jane Campion , ( dir. Jane Campion ) Australia : Arena Films , 1989 Z180189 1989 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units)

At the centre of this story of family life is the contrast between the deadpan, phobic Kay and the manic, excessive Dawn (Sweetie). The film explores aspects of Australian life and the Australian psyche, and probes into the viewer's consciousness by showing the narrow boundary between eccentricity, madness, and normality.

form y separately published work icon The Piano Jane Campion , ( dir. Jane Campion ) Australia : Jan Chapman Productions , 1993 Z352127 1993 single work film/TV (taught in 3 units)

'Ada, her nine-year-old daughter, and her piano, arrive to an arranged marriage in the remote bush of 19th century New Zealand. Of all her belongings, her husband refuses to transport the piano and it is left behind on the beach. Unable to bear its certain destruction, Ada strikes a bargain with an illiterate neighbour. She may earn her piano back if she allows him to do certain things while she plays: one black key for every lesson. The arrangement draws all three deeper and deeper into a complex emotional, sexual bond, remarkable for its naive passion and frightening disregard for limits.'

Source: Screen Australia.

form y separately published work icon An Angel at My Table Laura Jones , ( dir. Jane Campion ) Australia New Zealand United Kingdom (UK) : Hibiscus Films Channel 4 Films Australian Broadcasting Corporation , 1990 6025253 1990 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units)

Based on the autobiographies of New Zealand author Janet Frame.

form y separately published work icon Top of the Lake Top of the Lake : China Girl Jane Campion , Gerard Lee , ( dir. Jane Campion et. al. )agent Sydney London : See Saw Films , 2013 Z1892891 2013 series - publisher film/TV detective crime (taught in 1 units)

Series one:

'A 12-year-old girl is found chest deep in the freezing waters of a South Island lake. She's five months pregnant and when asked who the father is she insists: "No one". Then she disappears. Detective Robin Griffin's obsessive search for Tui unravels both Robin and the compromised town of Laketop.' (Source: Screen Australia. Sighted: 13/6/2013)

Series two:

'Top of the Lake Season Two: China Girl is a crime mystery story concerning the unidentified body of an Asian girl that washes up on to Sydney's Bondi Beach. The case seems hopeless, until detective Robin Griffin discovers that China Girl didn't die alone.' (Source: Daily Life. Sighted: 24/3/2016)

form y separately published work icon Not Quite Hollywood Mark Hartley , ( dir. Mark Hartley ) Australia : Digital Pictures , 2008 Z1523169 2008 single work film/TV (taught in 8 units) Mark Hartley's documentary film coins the term 'Ozploitation' to describe a class of Australian films from the 1970s and 1980s that dealt graphcially with sex and violence, often using stunts and special effects, in a uniquely Australian way.
form y separately published work icon Mad Dog Morgan Philippe Mora , ( dir. Philippe Mora ) Australia : Motion Picture Productions , 1976 Z1692562 1976 single work film/TV adventure historical fiction crime (taught in 1 units)

After enduring a prison sentence and attempting to eke out an existence on the Victorian goldfields, Daniel Morgan teams up with an Indigenous Australian outcast called Billy. Together, they terrorise southern NSW, killing policemen and raiding farms. Eventually, the authorities raise the reward for Morgan's capture to £1000, thus making his attempts to avoid capture even more difficult. He eventually crosses back into Victoria, but his behaviour has become increasingly erratic. Meanwhile, the police, led by Detective Mainwaring, close in.

form y separately published work icon They're a Weird Mob Sono Strana Gente Richard Imrie , ( dir. Michael Powell ) United Kingdom (UK) Australia : Williamson-Powell International , 1966 Z553582 1966 single work film/TV humour (taught in 6 units)

Italian sports journalist Nino Culotta is lured to Sydney during the mid-1960s to work for his brother's new magazine for migrant Italians. When he arrives in the country, however, Nino finds out that there is no magazine and that his brother has taken off with the investors' cash. Left in the lurch is his brother's business partner, Kay Kelly. Nino vows to pay off his brother's debt and gets a job as a builder's labourer. In doing so, he learns how to talk, act, and drink like an Australian male. His numerous attempts to woo Kay are repeatedly rebuffed with humorous results, but in the end she falls in love with him. Nino's introduction to the country and its culture finds him bemused but ultimately confident that he has a future here.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image suggests this film is 'very much a product of the assimilationist view dominating Australian immigration policy at the time'.

form y separately published work icon Wake in Fright Outback Evan Jones , ( dir. Ted Kotcheff ) 1971 Australia United States of America (USA) : Group W Films NLT Productions , 1971 Z912048 1971 single work film/TV horror (taught in 7 units)

John Grant, a young Englishman, teaches in Tiboonda, a tiny railway junction on the far western plains of New South Wales. He sets off to spend his summer vacation in Sydney but doesn't make it beyond Bundanyabba, a nearby mining town known as 'the Yabba'. Stranded in town after losing all his money in a two-up game, he finds himself engulfed by the Yabba's claustrophobic, nightmarish, beer-fuelled stupor, an atmosphere compounded of repressed sexuality, squalid violence, and the sinister mateship of the locals. After being sexually assaulted by the town's alcoholic doctor, he attempts to hitchhike out of the town but is brought back by a truckie. In anger, he tries to shoot the doctor but ends up only shooting himself. After discharging himself from the hospital, Grant takes the train back to Tiboonda, resigned to another year of teaching.

form y separately published work icon Walkabout Edward Bond , ( dir. Nicholas Roeg ) Australia : Max L. Raab - Si Litvinoff Film Productions , 1971 Z1039037 1971 single work film/TV (taught in 6 units)

Adapted from James Vance Marshall's novel The Children, Walkabout begins with a father-of-two driving his fourteen-year-old daughter and six-year-old son into the desert. Overwhelmed by the pressure on his life, he plans to kill them and then commit suicide, but his plan goes wrong. The siblings wander the desert aimlessly until they meet a young Aboriginal boy who is on a solitary walkabout as part of his tribal initiation into manhood. The three become travelling companions. Gradually, sexual tension develops between the girl and the Aboriginal boy. When they approach white civilisation, the Aboriginal boy dances a night-long courtship dance, but the girl is ignorant of its meaning. When she and her brother awake in the morning, they find the boy dead, hanging from a tree. The brother and sister make their way to the nearby mining town, where they receive a cool welcome from the townsfolk.

form y separately published work icon The Back of Beyond John Heyer , Janet Heyer , Roland Robinson , ( dir. John Heyer ) Shell Film Unit [Australia] , 1954 Z923420 1954 single work film/TV biography (taught in 2 units)

Regarded as one of Australia's most successful and affectionately remembered documentaries, The Back of Beyond follows mailman Tom Kruse as he makes his fortnightly deliveries along the Birdsville Track. The theme explored is very much that of the ability of Australians to adapt to the harshness of the central Australian outback.

Instead of the typical documentary film's 'single voice of authority,' Back of Beyond's narration is provided by several storytellers representative of the voices of the outback. These people include Kruse, the women on the two-way radio, Malcolm (an Aboriginal man), and the Birdsville policeman.

form y separately published work icon Jedda Jedda The Uncivilised Charles Chauvel , Elsa Chauvel , ( dir. Charles Chauvel ) Australia : Charles Chauvel Productions , 1955 Z1382736 1955 single work film/TV (taught in 13 units)

'On a lonely cattle station in the Northern Territory, a newly born Aboriginal baby is adopted by a white woman in place of her own child who has died. The child is raised as a white child and forbidden any contact with the Aborigines on the station. Years later, Jedda is drawn by the mysteries of the Aboriginal people but restrained by her upbringing. Eventually she is fascinated by a full-blood Aboriginal, Marbuck, who arrives at the station seeking work and is drawn to his campfire by his song. He takes her away as his captive and returns to his tribal lands, but he is rejected by his tribe for having broken their marriage taboos. Pursued by the men from Jedda's station and haunted by the death wish of his own tribe, Marbuck is driven insane and finally falls, with Jedda, over a cliff.'

(Synopsis from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School website,

form y separately published work icon Night Cries : A Rural Tragedy Tracey Moffatt , Jimmy Little (composer), ( dir. Tracey Moffatt ) Alice Springs : Chili Films , 1989 Z142554 1989 single work film/TV (taught in 12 units)

A middle-aged Aboriginal woman nurses her old white mother. During her tending of the old woman, she expresses her frustrations and previously suppressed anger, her own need for warmth and love, and her personal loneliness. Her memories and dreams invade her nerve-fraying routine until the old woman dies and she begins to experience an immense sense of loss.

In the ABC Radio National program, It's Not A Race in May 2017, Marcia Langton notes that Night Cries is the retelling of Jedda as a horror story.

y separately published work icon Pearls and Savages : Adventures in the Air, on Land and Sea - in New Guinea Frank Hurley , New York (City) London : G. P. Putnam's Sons , 1924 Z987920 1924 single work prose travel adventure (taught in 1 units)
form y separately published work icon Australia Baz Luhrmann , Stuart Beattie , Ronald Harwood , Richard Flanagan , ( dir. Baz Luhrmann ) Sydney : Bazmark Films , 2008 Z1531345 2008 single work film/TV (taught in 8 units)

At the beginning of World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley travels from her home in England to Northern Australia to confront her husband, whom she believes is having an affair. He is in the country to oversee the selling of his enormous cattle station, Faraway Downs. Her husband sends Drover, an independent stockman, to transport her to Faraway Downs. When Lady Sarah arrives at the station, however, she finds that her husband has been murdered (allegedly by King George, an Aboriginal elder) and that cattle station manager Neil Fletcher is trying to gain control of Faraway Downs, so that Lesley 'King' Carney will have a complete cattle monopoly in the Northern Territory.

Lady Sarah is captivated by Nullah (King George's grandson) son of an Aboriginal mother and an unknown white father. When Nullah tells her that he has seen her cattle being driven onto Carney's land, Fletcher beats him. Lady Sarah fires Fletcher, deciding to try to run the cattle station herself. To save the property from Carney, she enlists the aid of Drover; together, they drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land. In the course of the journey, she falls in love with both Drover and the Australian landscape.

Lady Sarah, Nullah, and Drover live together happily at Faraway Downs for two years, while Fletcher (the actual murderer of Lady Sarah's husband and very likely the father of Nullah) kills Carney, marries his daughter, and takes over Carney's cattle empire. When the authorities send Nullah to live on Mission Island with the other half-Aboriginal children, Lady Sarah is devastated. In the meantime, she works as a radio operator in Darwin.

When the Japanese attack the island and Darwin in 1942, Lady Sarah fears that Nullah has been killed and Drover, who had quarrelled with Lady Sarah and left the station, believes Lady Sarah has been killed. Learning of Nullah's abduction to Mission Island, however, he sets out to rescue him. Lady Sarah decides to sell Faraway Downs to Fletcher and return to England. Drover and Nulla sail back into port at Darwin as Lady Sarah is about to depart, and the three are reunited. Fletcher, distraught at the death of his wife, attempts to shoot Nullah, but is speared by King George and dies.


This course is structured around the idea of ‘outward-looking Australia’ as a way to think about the complexity of the relationship between the national Australian screen with global screen production and culture. At a time when politicians are attempting to fix geopolitical boundaries and determine who is allowed to cross borders, this course explores the porous nature of screen cultural borders. It invites you to examine if, and if so how, the boundaries of the Australian screen have always stretched much further than the nation’s geopolitical borders. It asks you to consider not only what is Australian national cinema and television, but also where is it. Does it exist in the national imaginary? Is it part of the global imaginary? How porous are its borders? What relationship(s) does it have with the films and programs of other nations? What has been (and is) the impact of other cinemas and television on the Australian screen and what has been its impact been on the moving images of other nations?