Throughout the first half of 2022, you can take a never before seen look at the making of iconic moments in Australian Film. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is presenting a special exhibition, which allows the viewer to fully immerse themselves in some of the most historic moments of Australian cinema. This exhibition is running from 21 January 2022 to 17 July 2022.
The event, titled Australians & Hollywood: A Tale of Craft, Talent and Ambition, presents an exclusive celebration of iconic moments in contemporary Australian film and the people and stories that made them happen. Throughout the exhibition, the NFSA gives attendees access to rare behind-the-scenes footage, costumes, props and moments from iconic Australian Cinema.
This is the NFSA’s first original exhibition in two decades, and it has definitely been worth the wait. Within the exhibit, you can experience a multimedia display utilising audio-visual elements which is complemented by a free digital exhibition companion named Spotlight. It is far from your usual run-of-the-mill exhibition.
When you first enter the exhibition, you are greeted by a life-size wax figure of Eric Bana, who recently starred in The Dry, standing in front of a fashioned red carpet. This is the perfect place to step up and take a photo.
Following this, you are immediately thrust into the world of cinema, passing over the red carpet into an area with real Oscars. It really feels like you have been transported to Hollywood.
“The exhibition is an audio-visual feast,” says curator Tara Marynowsky, when describing the exhibition space. This opinion is on the mark, with each area providing a different array of digital elements and visual facets that engage the viewer. It is an exhibition that has something for everyone. “Even if you’re not a huge film buff, there is a lot to unpack and learn from.” Tara says.
As you move further into the exhibition, you can explore different elements of film creation and development through the use of interactive platforms. ‘Swiping’ through the Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max: Fury Road storyboards give the viewer a deeper appreciation of the production process. This is further reinforced by displays of props, such as the hat used by Paul Hogan and the string wheels used in Mad Max.
The props are one of the main highlights of the exhibition. Some have been provided directly by the NFSA, however, many have been sourced from the private collections of some of Australia’s most notable cinematographers, filmmakers and actors. Most of these props are rarely seen by the public and are treasures in their own right.
Of the many costumes on display, you can get up close and personal with some of the dresses from Moulin Rouge and the wedding dress worn by Toni Collette in Muriel’s Wedding.
The exhibition goes a lot deeper than that, with displays of the detailed art concept books that led to the creation of many famous costumes which have appeared in Australian films.
The exhibition also provides an important insight into First Nations peoples’ contributions to Australian films. From notable screenwriters and directors such as Rachel Perkins and Warwick Thornton, to iconic stars such as David Gulpilil and critically acclaimed movies such as Sweet Country and Walkabout, the influence of indigenous input on Australian cinema is well presented.
While the main focal point of the exhibition is showcasing pivotal moments in Australian cinema, it also provides some insight into the contributions made by Australians to broader filmmaking. The exhibition subtitle, ‘A Tale of Craft, Talent and Ambition’ gives us a hint of what to expect, with engaging displays focused on Australian actors and their achievements in international film locations such as Hollywood.
All of these displays are enhanced by the ability to explore the craft behind the makeup, costumes and scripts. They also give the opportunity to sit, watch and listen to Australia’s most well-known actors being interviewed about their celebrated works, what it took to produce them, and interesting stories that underpinned their success.
The exhibition seeks to open the doors wide to explore Australians in cinema, and it does just that. Tara believes it is a must-see for anyone interested in studying film. “If I was a student interested in film, this exhibition would inspire me in one way or another.”
The exhibition concludes with a photo booth that allows the viewer to take movie-themed photos of themselves and a friend. This is a cool and creative piece of memorabilia that ties the interactive experience together.
At its core, the exhibition is a celebration of film in a unique and interactive way. If you consider yourself a movie lover, someone studying film, or simply enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at Australian film history, then stepping into this cinematic experience is a must.
If you miss the display, then a visit to the NFSA online exhibition page provides a creative look at what the exhibit has to offer. You can take a look at some of the special moments on the official NFSA Instagram and Twitter pages.
Original photos by Elly Collie