In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Australian Cinema

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • CD-ROMs
  • Journals
  • Industry
  • Film History
  • Film Revival, 1970s to 1980s
  • Contemporary Cinema
  • Filmmakers
  • Women Filmmakers
  • Interviews
  • Film and Landscape
  • Documentary Film
  • Film Music
  • Aboriginality, Ethnicity, and Identity
  • Film Marketing and Publicity
  • Film and Literature
  • Text and Nation
  • Film Audiences
  • Independent Film

Cinema and Media Studies Australian Cinema
Jonathan Rayner
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 January 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0008


The cinema of Australia has been the subject of continual, complex, and interdisciplinary scrutiny since the revival of feature film production in that country in the 1970s. Although limited academic and populist writing on Australian cinema predated the film revival, a wealth of contemporary and retrospective studies have appeared since the reemergence of Australian filmmaking on the national and international stages. Frequently, such works have been inflected with film, cultural, and media studies agendas quite apart from or in addition to the discourses of national cinema, identity, and representation that energized the filmmaking in the first place. Equally frequently, the output of Australian cinema has been studied in parallel with television, as well as with the cinema of New Zealand. The initial crop of industry-based analyses, thematically unified readings of film production, and the monograph concentration on outstanding director figures (as the currency of auteurism and the gold standard of national cinemas) has been complemented (and complicated) more recently by focused studies on issues of gender, ethnicity, Aboriginality, sexuality, and diasporic representation. These works have redressed the critical concentration on history, nation, and identity by encompassing and acknowledging an appropriate plurality of histories, nations, and identities on show in Australia’s filmmaking. Since 2000, increasing emphasis in academic treatments has been placed on diversity of representations and practitioners, and on the contemporary transnational context in which Australian films strive to make a commercial and cultural impact. Expanding consciousness of Indigenous cultural representation, and the critical recognition of Indigenous filmmakers, has significantly and necessarily reoriented debates around national identity and representation in the film industry and its products.

Reference Works

This section contains reference works (bibliographies, dictionaries, companion volumes, and encyclopedias) to support research and inform further reading and viewing. Atkinson, et al. 1996 and Levy 1995 offer an overview of cognate Australian media industries and personnel. McFarlane, et al. 1999 and Stewart 1984 provide standard information on all aspects of the film industry to date. Moran and Vieth 2009 provides parallel and comparative information for Australian and New Zealand industries. Moran and Vieth 2005 encompasses accessible and concise details of productions and practitioners. Palmer 1988 lists screen performers of the sound era. Reis 1997 offers an extensive bibliographical listing relating to texts, themes, personnel, and sources.

  • Atkinson, Ann, Linsay Knight, and Margaret McPhee. The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia, Vol. 1, Theatre, Film, Radio, Television. Saint Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1996.

    Encompasses the parallel and overlapping creative media industries in Australia. It therefore includes details of the careers of filmmakers, writers, and performers working within and across these fields, and it is useful as a comparative reference source.

  • Levy, Wayne. The Book of the Film and the Film of the Book: A Bibliography of Australian Cinema and TV, 1895–1995. Melbourne, Australia: Academia Press, 1995.

    A full listing of Australian film and television adapted from literature, including bibliographical details and indexes.

  • McFarlane, Brian, Geoff Mayer, and Ina Bertrand. The Oxford Companion to Australian Film. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press, 1999.

    Contains a wealth of detail on creative personnel, performers, and productions (including credits and plot summaries). Also provides some scholarly essays on historical and thematic subjects, interviews, illustrations (including a range of stills and posters), and a listing to date of Australian Film Institute awards.

  • Moran, Albert, and Errol Vieth. Historical Dictionary of Australian and New Zealand Cinema. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2005.

    A detailed and reliable reference source on both film industries, including a useful chronology of events, releases, and developments, and a thorough bibliography.

  • Moran, Albert, and Errol Vieth. The A to Z of Australian and New Zealand Cinema. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2009.

    An accessible, cross-referenced source of information on the history, practitioners, texts, and contexts of both film industries, including notable writers, directors, actors, early filmmaking, and government funding initiatives.

  • Palmer, Scott. A Who’s Who of Australian and New Zealand Film Actors: The Sound Era. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1988.

    A useful reference tool, listing screen performers alphabetically, with dates of birth and death, a brief description of their careers, and titles of films in which they appear in chronological order.

  • Reis, Brian. Australian Film: A Bibliography. London: Mansell, 1997.

    A very large and comprehensive work containing more than fourteen thousand entries (many annotated) listed under three headings: Subjects, People, and Films. The entries cover books, journals, theses, films, and government papers. There are indexes for film and book titles and individual authors.

  • Stewart, John. An Encyclopaedia of Australian Film. Frenchs Forest, Australia: Reed, 1984.

    This reference volume covers Australian films and filmmakers as far as the early 1980s, addresses Australian writers whose work has been adapted to the screen, and includes numerous illustrations.

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