Legend of Australian film to open exhibition in Geelong this February
20.01.2022

Legend of Australian film to open exhibition in Geelong this February

Man From Snowy River: Sigrid Thornton and Tom Burlinson in The Man From Snowy River (1982). Photo by David Parker.

Titled 'Stills Alive – The Magic of the Movies', the exhibition will feature stills photography from Australian movies, from 1900 to the 1980s

Multi-award-winning Australian film-maker David Parker will open a unique exhibition of movie stills photography at Geelong’s hub of photography, Focal Point Studio, Darkroom and Gallery,  on Friday 4 February.

Titled ‘Stills Alive – The Magic of the Movies’, the exhibition will feature stills photography from Australian movies, from 1900 to the 1980s. Movie stills photography encompasses publicity photos to behind the scenes and this exhibition is a window into the Australian movie scene, from being a world leader in the early years, through four dark decades from the 1930s, to the renaissance in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

From some of the country’s best-known early films to otherwise unknown or “lost” films, the exhibition covers an incredible range of movies of every genre. Drama, comedy, musicals, documentaries and even horror are all included.

The key takeaways

  • Multi-award-winning Australian film-maker David Parker will open a unique exhibition of movie stills photography at Focal Point Gallery in Geelong on Friday 4 February.
  • Stills Alive – The Magic of the Movies’ will feature stills photography from Australian movies, from  1900 to the 1980s.
  • The exhibit will run from 5 February until 3 April 2022

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The core of the exhibition was originally put together in the mid-1980s by Joyce Agee with assistance from the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra.  Agee is an exhibition curator, worked internationally as a photographer and as a stills photographer for television and the Australian film A Street to Die (1985).

The exhibition has been enlarged with more movies represented and many of the photos restored using modern techniques but retains its historic perspective. 

Opening the exhibition on Friday, February 4 2022 will be David Parker, who is best known for writing, producing and filming Australian classic movies Malcolm, Amy, The Big Steal and Matching Jack.

Parker, who has 21 credits as cinematographer or director of photography, twelve as producer and six as writer, is a legend in the stills photography world. He worked as the still photographer for 18 Australian films, including The Man From Snowy River, Burke & Wills, Heatwave, Phar Lap and High Tide, as well as the TV mini-series A Town Like Alice.

Parker said the role of the stills photographer is “absolutely critical” to the success of any film, as the photographer provides the images for advertising, press releases, promotional material, posters, books, lobby cards and more.

“Whilst the main task is to depict the key moments of the film as a still image, the stills photographer also uses his particular skills to create strong artistic images which might range from portraits of lead actors to arresting images that are not simply a copy of the images that appear in the film. These often become the key images that sell the film”, he explained.

Parker now runs Cascade Films with his wife Nadia Tass, herself a multi-award-winning director and producer.

As well as being a guest of honour at the opening, Parker has about a dozen photos in this exhibition, which totals more than 100 photos charting the rise, fall and renaissance of the Australian film industry, from 1896 to 1986. The exhibition includes stills from the 1900 Salvation Army production Soldiers Of The Cross; the world’s first feature-length narrative film, The Story Of The Kelly Gang (1906); Australia’s first “talkie” and many other milestones of the local industry. 

Director of Focal Point Gallery, which is hosting the exhibition, Craig Watson said there was just as much educational value from the exhibition as entertainment.

“Anyone with an interest in the history of the Australian film industry will find something here. But, if you just want to see great photography or get some ideas on some older Australian films worth watching, you won’t be disappointed either.

“Since the 1980s the Australian film industry has gone from strength to strength and is again a world leader. This exhibition is about where the industry began, its ups and downs and how it reached the levels it has, and as such really doesn’t need to go beyond the renaissance period of the 1970s and ‘80s’.”

Stills Alive – The Magic of the Movies will be open from 5 February until 3 April at Focal Point Gallery, 46 Douro St, North Geelong. Find out more here