• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE1160

Moffatt, Tracey

(1960 – )
  • Nationality Australian
  • Born 12 November, 1960, Brisbane Queensland Australia
  • Occupation Actor, Artist, Director, Filmmaker, Photographer, Producer, Scriptwriter


Tracey Moffatt is an internationally renowned Aboriginal photographer, documentary maker and director. Moffatt’s photography is reflected in her films and documentaries, which explore Aboriginal culture by confronting commonly held stereotypes.

Tracey Moffatt was born in 1960 in Brisbane, where she graduated from the Queensland College of Arts. Her debut film, Nice Coloured Girls, won the Most Innovative Film award at the 1988 Festival of Australian Film and Video. At the same festival, she won the Best New Australian Video award for her 5-minute Aboriginal and Islander dance video, Watch Out. Moffatt also produced Moodeitj Yorgas, which includes interviews, dances, and storytelling by Western Australian Aboriginal women. Her film Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (1990) draws from the 1955 Chauvel film Jedda.

Moffatt’s photographic exhibitions include “Some Lads” and “Something More”.


Moffatt released her first documentary in 1988. A Change of Face critically examined the popular understanding and construction of Australian identity in films, television drama and advertisements.

Moffatt’s first documentary focused solely on Aboriginal culture is Moodeitj Yorgas (Solid Women). Released in 1989, the film focused on strong and successful Aboriginal women. The film is constructed through the use of interviews, photographs of Aboriginal people and their land, stories about how the arrival of white man changed Aboriginal life (told in two Aboriginal languages), and Aboriginal music and dance. The interviews with Sally Morgan, Lois Olney, Helen Corbett and Helen Dorondorf are symbolic of the collective voice of Aboriginal women.

Her next documentary was Nice Coloured Girls (1989). Moffatt again juxtaposed photography with voiceovers to examine the historical relationship between Aboriginal women and white men. The documentary questioned the validity of conventional white history that depicts Aborigines as passive and powerless.

Also in 1989, she wrote and directed Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy. Night Cries was inspired by Charles Chauvel’s Jedda (1955), and continued the story of the two main characters, thirty years after Jedda. In the film, the relationship has changed from mother and child to carer and invalid.

Moffatt’s first feature film Bedevil was a set of three individual ghost stories that interlock to form one cohesive movie. The film was released in 1993 and is the second feature film to be directed by an indigenous Australian.



  • 2001 - 2001

    Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Published resources

  • Edited Book
    • The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and culture, Horton, David, 1994
    • The Oxford Companion to Australian Film, McFarlane, Brian, Mayer Geoff and Bertrand, Ina, 1999
    • Womenvision: Women and the Moving Image in Australia, French, Lisa, 2003
  • Resource
  • Book
    • Murawina : Australian women of high achievement, Roberta Sykes ; photography by Sandy Edwards, 1993
    • The moving images of Tracey Moffatt, Summerhayes, Catherine, 2007
  • Site Exhibition

Archival resources

  • National Film and Sound Archive
    • Women 88
    • Boomalli: Five Koori Artists
    • Moodeitj Yorgas
    • Nice Coloured Girls
    • Night Cries : A Rural Tragedy
    • Bedevil : Original Release
    • A Change of Face
    • [A Positive Identity for Black Film Makers : Sydney Film Festival : Film Forum]
    • [Moffatt, Tracey : Interviewed by Kari Hanet : Oral History]
    • [Moffatt, Tracey : upper body shot, head turned to right, corrugated iron roof in background]
  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on Tracey Moffatt, film-maker, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Johnson, Darlene
  • Related Concepts
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women
    • Film