Essential Australian Women Directors: 10 Trailblazers Selected by David Stratton

Classic films by trailblazing Australian women directors from the 1920s to now selected by the iconic film critic David Stratton. This retrospective celebrates the vital work of ten remarkable filmmakers.

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Sydney Film Festival retrospectives have usually focused on the work of one significant filmmaker, and so far, those filmmakers have all been men. This year, rather than highlighting the work of one director, we’re looking at the work of 10 remarkable Australian women.

The key woman director of the late silent and early sound period in Australia was Paulette McDonagh (1901-1978) who made four features between 1926 and 1933, one of which, The Cheaters (1929), is included in this retrospective.

After Two Minutes Silence (1933), the last of McDonagh’s films, we had to wait 46 years for another feature to be directed by a woman in this country – the film was My Brilliant Career (1979), and the director was Gillian Armstrong. Armstrong has gone on to a brilliant career, and this retrospective includes High Tide (1987), the film that reunited her with Judy Davis.

In the years since Armstrong’s trailblazing debut, a great many very talented women have directed important and enduring films in this country. This retrospective is a tribute to all of them, and not just to the ten women represented here. Let’s celebrate this tribute to some of our great women filmmakers.

David Stratton
Guest Programmer

Film critic, lecturer and author David Stratton AM is a former director of the Sydney Film Festival and former host of ABC TV’s At the Movies. He is a recipient of the Raymond Longford Award and was named Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has served on the juries in Venice and Berlin and as a President of the FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) jury in Cannes. He recently published his fourth book 101 Marvellous Movies You May Have Missed (2018).

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