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Utilitarian Filmmaking in Australia

Utilitarian Filmmaking in Australia 1945–1980

The project aims to discover, document, and analyse a comprehensive overview of client-sponsored, instructional and government-departmental filmmaking in Australia in the post-WWII years prior to the rise of widespread video production in the late-1970s.  

We are examining purposeful films that were made and distributed outside the well-studied systems of entertainment, ‘theatrical’ exhibition and visual arts installation; films that were produced, distributed and exhibited to a wide range of (as-yet under-investigated) audiences in ‘non-theatrical’ contexts and spaces. These were films produced in significant numbers worldwide (including in Australia) for the functional purposes of instruction, surveillance, quantification or record-keeping rather than principally for reasons of commercial entertainment or clearly-contextualised artistic and aesthetic appreciation.  Although such films represent a large proportion of film production during the years 1945 - 1980, very little scholarly work has been done on such titles in the Australian context.

Investigators: Professor Ross Gibson (Lead CI); Associate Professor Michael Broderick; Associate Professor Deane Williams; Professor Joseph Masco 
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2016–2018