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Australian Films

Australian films have been one of the pioneers in the promotion of world cinema. These films have been very successful in drawing millions of audience towards the superior quality cinema it has produced ever since its initial days. Like other world cinema, films in Australia too witnessed a gradual progression, from silent and black and white to sound and color, and finally to new revolutions evolving through some unique storytelling. The film industry of Australia had always tried to cash in on its native attractions, like its unique region-specific culture, which has been deeply influenced by the bushes and Aborigines of Australia. Favoritism for native culture and language has lent Australian cinema a characteristic of its own, and helped it to be positioned on the pedestal of world cinema. The successful innings of Australian cinema began as long back as 1906, when theaters across Australia and England first witnessed the successful running of an Australian cinema by the name of, The Story of the Kelly Gang.

‘The Story of the Kelly Gang’ was also the initiator of a successful and fascinating breed of bushranger stories in the history of Australian films. The bushranger stories dominated film theaters across England and Australia in the silent age and brought about a new revolution in world cinema. Bushranger stories were native to Australia and it dealt with Australian convict gangs who were on the runaway from the white British police. However, these bushranger stories greatly irked the colonial masters and despite their commercial success, the films were banned from public screening in many parts of Australia, like in South Australia in 1911 and in Victoria in 1912. But the bushranger stories gained public vote and merit chiefly due to their originality, and Kelly Gang has especially been restructured and re-filmed several times, along contemporary lines. Australian films, however, evolved beyond the thrills of bushranger stories to delve deep into human psyche and sensibilities.

The silent era saw the rise of such legendary Australian feature filmmakers like Raymond Longford, Ken Hall and Charles Chauvel and the path-breaking silent classic called The Sentimental Bloke. Australian films of the silent era chiefly focused on exploring the fragile relationship between the Australian natives and their colonial English masters. Films like For the Term of His Natural Life, greatly stressed on the colonial and bushranger themes. Films made on Australian themes gained popularity by the day, but down the years, Australian films were overshadowed by US and British films and failed to gross enough revenue from the world film market. The grim condition of Australian films in the 1920's forced the government to set up a Royal Commission in 1928, but things were far from development.

It was not before the 1930's, and the emergence of sound in films, that Australian cinema could see some success. It was also the era when documentaries and short films were first produced in Australia. The creation of such films, as the Dad and Dave series under Cinesound film studios, helped Australian films to experience some commercial success. The first Australian film to win an academy award was the Kokoda Front Line in 1943. Australian films received the touch of color only in 1955 and the most poignant depiction of Aboriginal life in color was through the 1955 Charles Chauvel film, Jedda. Jedda received widespread critical and commercial acclaim, and till today is one of the most debated films in the history of world cinema.

Australian cinema was renovated with modern themes and contemporary issues in the 1970's and 1980's when the New Wave struck films in this part of the earth. The New Wave not just catapulted significant Australian actors and filmmakers to the limelight, but also gave rise to the highest number of Australian films within a span of 15 years, almost 400 between 1970 and 1985. But films of the New Wave were also dominated by the quest of the Australian identity. This trend, however, changed in the 1990's when Australian films were made, keeping in mind the sensibilities of the world audience. It was also the decade when a spate of 'Oscar' winning Australian films hit the screens across the world. Some of the most notable among the latest breed of Australian films are; Looking for Alibrandi, The Boys, Radiance, Head On, Rabbit Proof Fence, Till Human Voices Wake Us and Two Hands. The Australian Film Commission is responsible for ably administering the Australian film scenario, and keeps track of all the latest developments with regard to Australian films.
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