Sydney Film Festival’s Top 10 essential films directed by pioneering women filmmakers

Home » Sydney Film Festival’s Top 10 essential films directed by pioneering women filmmakers

Essential Australian Women Directors is a specially curated selection of films by renowned critic, broadcaster and former director of Sydney Film Festival, David Stratton, it’s presented in association with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA).  Screening at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from the 5-10 June and NFSA’s Arc Cinema Canberra from 28 June-7 July. 

The 10 films being showcased each mark a great milestone in Australian film history which have been all directed by some of the industry’s most prominent women.  “This retrospective pays tribute to not only these pioneering filmmakers, who tirelessly forged their own path forward, but to all the talented women who have crafted important and enduring films in this country.” says Stratton,  “In the era of the #MeToo movement, the barriers that once faced women filmmakers are perhaps crumbling at a quicker pace – in the meantime, let’s celebrate the titanic achievements of our women filmmakers, and these landmark works that have irrevocably shifted the industry landscape forever.”

The 10 films in the program are:

NFSA Restores: The Cheaters (1930)
– Paulette McDonaghMalcolm (1986) – Nadia TassHigh Tide (1987) – Gillian ArmstrongSweetie (1989) – Jane CampionWaiting (1991)Jackie McKimmie
Bedevil (1993)Tracey Moffatt

Love Serenade (1996) – Shirley Barrett

Blessed (2009) – Ana Kokkinos

Beautiful Kate (2009) – Rachel Ward

The Babadook (2014)Jennifer Kent

Renowned critic and broadcaster, David Stratton, a former director of the Sydney Film Festival (1966 to 1983) will introduce the Sydney screenings, and take questions along with filmmaker guests.

 “From an influential silent masterpiece, to the only feature film by artist Tracey Moffatt, these works are immaculately-crafted showcases of truly revolutionary women filmmakers.”says Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley  The films are brought to life with performances from the highest calibre of Australian acting talent, including Miranda Otto and Frances O’Connor, Bryan Brown and Ben Mendelsohn – all who have delighted audiences at the Festival in previous years.”

The retrospective consists of ten films, each marking a great milestone in Australian film history, including:

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.02.15 AM silent melodrama The Cheaters by pioneering filmmaker Paulette McDonagh, digitally restored by the NFSA and screening with a score performed live by the virtuosic Jan Preston;

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.04.56 AMwinner of the prestigious Camera d’Or, Love Serenade by Shirley Barrett; the iconic cult comedy Malcolm by AFI Award-winning director Nadia Tass;

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.06.30 AM.pngand Bedevil, the first and only feature by Aboriginal artist Tracey Moffatt.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.07.31 AM.pngSelections include early works from highly-acclaimed film stars, including High Tide, the second collaboration between icons Gillian Armstrong and Judy Davis;

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.08.33 AMWaiting by acclaimed filmmaker Jackie McKimmie, which stars TV legend Noni Hazlehurst;

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.09.23 AMand Sweetie by New Zealand-born Australian filmmaker Jane Campion – to this day, the only woman to have received the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.15.25 AMInfluential films from more recent years include The Babadook, the thrilling debut of Jennifer Kent;

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.17.01 AMthe achingly moving Blessed by Ana Kokkinos, starring Miranda Otto and Wayne Blair;

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.17.45 AMand Golden Globe-nominated filmmaker Rachel Ward’s debut feature Beautiful Kate.

NFSA General Manager, Collection and Access Meg Labrum said, “Women have been an essential driving force in our film industry since its early days. From the pioneering McDonagh Sisters to Jennifer Kent, David Stratton’s selection truly is an abridged history of Australian film through a female gaze. We hope Sydney and Canberra audiences, particularly the new generations of aspiring female filmmakers, will feel empowered by the work of these fierce creative minds that came before them.”

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.14.18 AM.png


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