Essential Australian women directors: selected by David Stratton

    • 	Image: Still from High tide
    • Part of the Sydney Film Festival 2019


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 (1930), is included in this Sydney Film Festival 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.

The recurring theme of the ten films in this retrospective is that of family. Mother and daughter are reunited in High tide, sisters feature in both Sweetie (1989) and Love serenade (1996), mothers and children of both sexes in Blessed, mother and son in The babadook (2014). Beautiful Kate (2009) is about a family reunion, Waiting (1991) is a film in which close friends become surrogates for family, and in Malcolm (1986), two very different men form an almost fraternal relationship.

David Stratton will be introducing many of the sessions.

This is a Sydney Film Festival 2019 event, hosted by the Art Gallery of NSW.

Wednesday 5 June - Monday 10 June 2019
See listing for times

$21 each
$18 concession
$14 youth (under 18)
$15.50 group 10+
$140 ten-film package
plus booking fee

Bookings essential

For all information and tickets:
Sydney Film Festival website

Tickets also available at the door if not sold out beforehand

Location: Domain Theatre

Related programs: Sydney Film Festival 2019 at the Gallery

Image: Still from High tide

    • The cheaters

      Charges apply

      Wednesday 5 June 7:15pm – 8:48pm

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      Paulette McDonagh’s pioneering romantic silent melodrama, set in Sydney, stars the director’s sister, Marie Lorraine, as the daughter of a criminal mastermind.

      Presented by the National Film and Sound Archive’s digital restoration program – NFSA Restores – reviving our cinema icons.

    • Malcolm

      Charges apply

      Saturday 8 June 10:15am – 12:10pm

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      The first feature by director Nadia Tass is a delicious comedy starring Colin Friels as an introverted inventor and John Hargreaves as a resourceful criminal.

    • High tide

      Charges apply

      Saturday 8 June 12:30pm – 2:39pm

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      Gillian Armstrong and Judy Davis collaborated for the second time on this emotionally rich multi-generational drama. Claudia Karvan plays Davis’ daughter and Jan Adele is the grandmother.

    • Sweetie

      Charges apply

      Saturday 8 June 2:55pm – 4:57pm

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      One of the most original films ever made in this country, Jane Campion’s story about a pair of very eccentric sisters caused a sensation at Cannes.

    • Waiting

      Charges apply

      Sunday 9 June 10:15am – 12:15pm

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      Noni Hazlehurst plays a surrogate mother about to give birth, who welcomes her closest friends to her isolated rural shack. Jamie McKimmie’s second feature is a gem.

    • Bedevil

      Charges apply

      Sunday 9 June 12:30pm – 2:22pm

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      Indigenous artist and photographer Tracey Moffatt’s only feature to date consists of three ghost stories told in a thrillingly original, highly stylised fashion.

    • Love serenade

      Charges apply

      Sunday 9 June 2:45pm – 4:53pm

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      Winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes, Shirley Barrett’s whimsical and very offbeat comedy stars Miranda Otto and Rebecca Frith as small-town sisters.

    • Blessed

      Charges apply

      Monday 10 June 10:15am – 12:23pm

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      This achingly moving, harshly powerful film from Ana Kokkinos takes us into the world of four mothers whose children are in serious trouble. Frances O’Connor leads a fine cast.

    • Beautiful Kate

      Charges apply

      Monday 10 June 12:45pm – 2:50pm

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      In Rachel Ward’s feature debut, Ben Mendelsohn plays a man who returns to the isolated property where he grew up, to see his dying father (Bryan Brown).

    • The Babadook

      Charges apply

      Monday 10 June 3pm – 4:58pm

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      In Jennifer Kent’s thrilling debut, a single mother (Essie Davis) and her six-year-old son (Noah Wiseman) are haunted by the mysterious ‘Mr Babadook’.