Five Inspiring Australian Films By Female Directors

Australian screen stories are unique, innovative and diverse. Our #YOUMUSTSEE campaign calls on audiences to celebrate, acknowledge and honour this fact by voting for their top 3 Australian films, and we’ve received votes for everything from iconic comedies, films that showcase natural Australian landscapes and more.

Today we’re looking at films by some of the country’s most notable female directors. Are they on your list of top 3 Australian films #YOUMUSTSEE? Let us know.

My Brilliant Career (1979) dir. Gillian Armstrong

Based on the 1901 novel by Miles Franklin, Armstrong’s poignant, heart-warming feature film My Brilliant Career tells the story of aspiring female writer Syballa, played by the Academy Award-nominated Australian actress Judy Davis. Constantly rebuffed and ridiculed by her male counterparts, Syballa must work defiantly to make a name of herself in a society filled with misogynist attitudes. Armstrong gives a voice to women in a time when they were silenced, and for that, her film is one of the most important contributions to Australian cinema to date.

Head On (1998) dir. Ana Kokkinos

Bringing Christos Tsiolkas’s debut novel Loaded (1995) to the screen, Head On is a hyper-realistic portrayal of adolescent life in Australian suburbia. Using Tsiolkas’s themes of drugs, sex and mundanity, Kokkinos presents the story of Ari, a 19-year old Greek-Australian who longs to escape reality through illicit consumption and behaviour. Kokkinos’ adaptation is an explicit, yet insightful, vision of life on the outskirts of society.

After the Apology (2017) dir. Larissa Behrendt

One of Australia’s most prominent documentary makers, Larissa Behrendt, has made a name for herself with this work addressing the troubling history of white Australia. In After The Apology, Behrendt tells the story of four grandmothers who start a national inquiry into the thousands of Indigenous children taken away from their parents. Behrendt, an Indigenous Australian herself, forces viewers to confront the injustice happening right under their noses. Her filmmaking is poignant, distressing and honest enough to make a difference in both Australian cinema and society.

52 Tuesdays (2014) dir. Sophie Hyde

Following her success at last year’s Adelaide Film Festival for comedy series F*!#ing Adelaide, we look back at Sophie Hyde’s outstanding film debut, 52 Tuesdays. Set in Adelaide over 52 Tuesdays in 2014, Hyde’s film details the story of Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey, star of F*!#ing Adelaide), a teenage girl coming to terms with her mother’s gender transition. Navigating through provocative subjects including teenage sex and experimentation, Hyde’s film is a courageous feat of cinema. Like all of Hyde’s work, 52 Tuesdays is clever, astonishingly honest and a refreshing take on life behind closed doors.

Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger (2008) dir. Cathy Randall

Written and directed by Australian-Jewish filmmaker Cathy Randall, Hey, Hey It’s Esther Blueburger follows the story of outcast Esther Blueburger (Danielle Catanzariti), a Jewish teenager who struggles to fit in at her private school. Set in Adelaide, Randall’s semi-autobiographical film rejuvenates the female coming-of-age genre in Australian cinema. It’s a light, fun and often insightful look into the struggles of diasporic minorities in Australian society.

Words by Olivia De Zilva

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