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Feminism & Film: Sydney Women Filmmakers, 1970s & 1980s

Date: 6 June 2017

The Sydney Film Festival opens tomorrow, 7 June and runs until 18 June. This year, there is a strand of the festival dedicated to the city’s feminist filmmakers of the 1970s and 80s.

Feminism & Film honours the diverse influences and intentions of women who made the films for discussion, committed to the serious undertakings, collaborated on stories of country and culture, and worked for love — but not always money.

Highlights of this strand include:

My Survival as an Aboriginal
Australia | 1979 | 50 mins | In English
Director: Essie Coffey | Cinematographer: Martha Ansara
Respected Murruwurri activist Essie Coffey invites filmmakers and audiences into her family and community of Brewarrina in North West NSW to fight for country and culture.

Winner of Best Documentary, Greater Union Awards and Rouben Mamoulian Prize for Best Short Film at Sydney Film Festival, 1979

My Survival as an Aboriginal was … one of the first Australian films where an Indigenous Australian was directly involved in deciding how she and her community would be represented, and is also the first documentary directed by an Indigenous woman … Essie Coffey’s passion for her culture and her stoic dedication to her people is tangible in this film. As a charismatic, dedicated woman, she invites the audience into her community. And while she brings to the fore the hardships endured by her community, she is continually focused on the power and richness of traditional knowledge and skills, and the power of her cultural connection to land. In this, Coffey not only raises issues of the impact of colonisation on Indigenous peoples, but also offers a solution by way of continuing cultural practice. – Romaine Moreton


For Love or Money: a history of women and work in Australia
Australia | 1983 | 107 mins | In English
Megan McMurchy, Margot Nash, Margot Oliver, Jeni Thornley
High point in an era of feminist documentary filmmaking, lovingly woven together from women’s personal stories, archival collections and excerpts from Australia’s film history.

Winner of Best Feature Documentary, Incontro Internazionale del Cinema delle Donne, Florence, 1984
Winner of United Nations Media Peace Prize, 1985

For Love or Money was one of a new genre of historical documentaries, where young filmmakers took command of the archive and used its images (both those that had helped determine national histories and those that had been denied a contribution to these histories) to attempt to reformulate – or at least refocus – collective memories. – Adrienne Parr, Australian Screen Online

Winter Tales with Karen Middleton – 18 June 2017.

Date: 6 June 2017

Join Canberra Press Gallery journalist Karen Middleton for conversation and cup of tea at our next Winter Tales event, held in conjunction with the Australian Women’s Archives project.

Karen Middleton is a political journalist with more than two decades of experience reporting on national and international affairs in print and broadcast media.

A former president of the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery and a Churchill Fellow, she was chief political correspondent with SBS TV, a long-time newspaper columnist and radio commentator, and a panelist on the ABC1’s lnsiders. Karen was in Washington DC on September 11, 2001, and reported from Afghanistan in 2007.

When: 18 June 2017, 2pm-3pm

Where: Conference Room, Level 4, National Library of Australia

How much?: $15 – includes afternoon tea

More Information:

Bookings: online at  – or by phone 02 6262 1111

Victorian Rural Women’s Network to be re-established!

Date: 3 May 2017

In welcome news, the Victorian state government has announced that is will re-establish the Victorian Rural Women’s Network (VRN). First formed in 1986, the VRN was ‘decommissioned’ in recent years, but will be back in action as of 1 July 2017.

The new network will work with Victoria’s rural women’s groups and individuals to share ideas and information. It will also encourage women to have a more active voice in government and community decision-making.

A dedicated website, social media platform and a regular e-newsletter will keep rural women informed of upcoming events, grants, scholarships, gatherings, activities, publications and resources, and links to other useful services.

Read Janet Butlers Australian Women’s Register entry about the first Victorian Rural Women’s Network.

Farewell Mary Owen – thanks from all of us for the legacy you helped to create.

Date: 27 March 2017

Melbourne feminist and social justice advocate, Mary Owen, passed away on 23 March 2017. A founding member of almost every feminist organisation to have made a difference to the lives of Australian women in the late twentieth century, Mary was a woman who effected change – and made Australia a better, more equal place for all of us coming after her. She had a strong sense of the importance of history as a motivating force for activism; the Australian Women’s Archives Project began as a community based response by the National Foundation for Australian Women to a request from her for help with conserving the records of her long and varied contribution to public life.

Mary was a foundation member of EMILY’s List. She was also the founding Coordinator of The Working Women’s Centre Melbourne, 1975-1986, when it was absorbed into the Australian Council of Trade Unions. She was a staff member of AAESDA (Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors & Draughtsmen of Australia), 1965 -1975; a member of Women’s Electoral Lobby from 1972; and a member of La Trobe University Council 1983-1990. She was appointed Deputy Chancellor of La Trobe University 1989.

Vale Mary Owen – a feisty, strong feminist who was an inspiration to us all. The Australian Women’s Archives Project thanks you.

Her Place: Women in the West exhibition open 7-31 March 2017.

Date: 15 March 2017

Her Place: Women in the West honours the lives and contributions of women in Melbourne’s west. It celebrates the work, achievements and historical significance of women through moving image, photographs, biographical accounts and personal artefacts. The exhibition tells the stories of ten women from the western suburbs of Melbourne. These women have contributed to Australian society at both national and local levels through their work as artists and activists, writers and scientists, businesswomen, lawyers and community leaders. The group includes a former state premier and the AFL’s first female coach.

To find out more, including the schedule of associated public program, please visit the website.