‘The Cheaters’. 

Critic David Stratton has curated a program of 10 “essential films” directed by Australian female filmmakers for the Sydney Film Festival and the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA).

Among them is 1930s silent melodrama The Cheaters, from Paulette McDonagh, digitally restored by the NFSA, and which will screen with a score performed live by Jan Preston. There’s also Shirley Barrett’s Love Serenade, which won the Camera d’Or in 1996; Nadia Tass’ comedy Malcolm; Tracey Moffett’s Bedevil; Gillian Armstrong’s High Tide, Jackie McKimmie’s Waiting, and Jane Campion’s Sweetie.

Films from more recent years include Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook; Blessed from Ana Kokkinos, and Rachel Ward’s Beautiful Kate.

The films will screen as a retrospective program at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from June 5-10, as part of Sydney Film Festival which runs June 5-16. The retrospective will also screen in Canberra at NFSA’s Arc cinema June 28-July 7.

Stratton will introduce the Sydney screenings, and take questions along with filmmaker guests.

“Rather than highlighting one director, we’re celebrating the vital work of ten remarkable women. This retrospective pays tribute to not only these pioneering filmmakers, who tirelessly forged their own path forward, but to all the talented women who have crafted important and enduring films in this country,” said Stratton.

“In the era of the #MeToo movement, the barriers that once faced women filmmakers are perhaps crumbling at a quicker pace – in the meantime, let’s celebrate the titanic achievements of our women filmmakers, and these landmark works that have irrevocably shifted the industry landscape forever.”

Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley said: “From an influential silent masterpiece, to the only feature film by artist Tracey Moffatt, these works are immaculately-crafted showcases of truly revolutionary women filmmakers. The films are brought to life with performances from the highest calibre of Australian acting talent, including Miranda Otto and Frances O’Connor, Bryan Brown and Ben Mendelsohn – all who have delighted audiences at the festival in previous years.”

NFSA general manager, collection and access Meg Labrum said, “Women have been an essential driving force in our film industry since its early days. From the pioneering McDonagh Sisters to Jennifer Kent, David Stratton’s selection truly is an abridged history of Australian film through a female gaze. We hope Sydney and Canberra audiences, particularly the new generations of aspiring female filmmakers, will feel empowered by the work of these fierce creative minds that came before them.”

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