Woman Pomeranz, Margaret


Film critic, Film writer and Producer

Written by Gayle Lake, National Film and Sound Archive

Margaret Pomeranz (née Jones-Owen) was born on 14 July 1944 in the eastern Sydney suburb of Waverley and grew up in a modest semi-detached house in Croydon in Sydney's west. She was educated at Presbyterian Ladies College in Croydon. Her love of cinema was ignited at a young age by the Saturday afternoon matinee of double feature, short and serial at her local cinema, an all-encompassing past-time for an only child.

Margaret enrolled in Engineering at Sydney University, the first person in her family to be tertiary educated. However, her interest in the Humanities and the Arts was better suited to the newly established Macquarie University, where she enrolled in an Arts degree majoring in German and Social Psychology. In the middle of her studies, fleeing the conformity of 1960s Australia, Margaret spent two and a half years in Vienna. It was during this period she had her first taste of working in the media employed as a stringer by the Bulletin and for Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Rural Radio. Margaret credits this period in Vienna as 'shaping the person she is today' (McUtcheon 2010). She passionately embraced European intellectualism and the philosophical freedom it provided.

Returning to Australia in the early 1971 she finished her degree at Macquarie University and then enrolled at the National Institute of Performing Arts where she undertook took a screenwriting course at the Playwrights Studio. She also met and married Hans Pomeranz, the dynamic founder of Spectrum Films, which Margaret describes as 'the vortex of the New Wave' (Pomeranz 2010). It was during this period that she accumulated knowledge of film and television production and post-production sectors. Throughout her early career Margaret balanced job, home and two children Joshua and Felix, both of whom followed their parents into the industry. Joshua is Managing Director of Spectrum Films and Felix is a globally in-demand Visual Effects specialist. Despite separating in 1984, the couple remained close friends until Hans's death in 2007.

Margaret became writer/producer at the newly formed Special Broadcasting Service in 1980 where she established The Movie Show with David Stratton in 1986. Unable to find a female co-host the program, senior management and Stratton convinced Margaret to take on the role on what was thought to be a short term arrangement. The show ran until 2004, when it moved to the ABC and was rebadged as At the Movies. During her time at SBS she was Executive Producer on Front Up, Subsonics, the AFI Awards, and the IF Awards. She is a past President of the Film Critics Circle of Australia, past Chair and Vice-Chair of Watch on Censorship which disbanded in November 2012. Margaret has served on the Advertising Standards Board and was a member of the inaugural Australian Writers' Foundation.

Margaret is known for her fierce loyalty, self-deprecating humour and outspokenness which has made her the focus of both criticism and praise from both friends and foes in the turbulent Australian media landscape. Despite her declaration that she is an 'ordinary girl' (McUtcheon 2010), Margaret has often found herself as the focus of media attention, particularly related to issues of freedom of speech and film censorship. None was more visible than the circumstances surrounding the NSW Office of Film and Literature Classification's banning of the film Ken Park in 2003 when she found herself temporarily detained in Police custody after attempting to screen the film. Margaret was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2005 for her service to the film industry as a critic and reviewer, promoter of Australian content, and advocate for freedom of expression in film.

Published Resources

Conference Papers

Magazine Articles

  • McUtcheon, Andrew, Love and other Catastrophes, The Weekly Review, 17 June 2010. Details

Resource Sections

See also