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Gerakiteys: Greek Community Picnics (1950)

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Annual Greek picnic education content clip 1

Original classification rating: not rated. This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

This clip shows members of the Canberra Greek community on their annual picnic at Good Hope just outside of Canberra on 26 December 1949. Friends and relatives sitting in the shade lift their glasses and toast to the camera as it pans across their faces. Some do a traditional Greek dance in a circle around a solo violinist. Down by the side of the lake, the group gathers for another song.

Curator’s notes

Babies, children, parents and grandparents – all generations of the Canberra Greek community enjoy their annual Christmas outing and celebration in this clip. It is a wonderful illustration of family and community life amongst the close-knit Greek community in Canberra during the late 1940s. Dancing, singing, laughing and drinking are common throughout the Gerakiteys footage. Weddings, birthdays and celebrations such as this one are filled with details of Greek-Australian life.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows silent home-movie footage of members of the Greek community from Canberra and the surrounding district on an annual picnic at Good Hope, near Yass, on Boxing Day 1949. A man pours a drink from a barrel of what may be home-brewed beer. The camera pans across the group, many of whom raise their glasses in a toast. The clip also shows a traditional Greek dance, with dancers circling a fiddler and Emmanuel Gerakiteys, who shot much of this footage. The clip ends with a posed shot of the group singing, with Lake Burrinjuck as a backdrop.

Educational value points

  • Home movies have recently come to be seen as historical documents, especially when they provide diverse perspectives or alternative histories in the way this footage does. The clip shows rare footage of Greeks who settled in Canberra prior to the 1950s and reveals that the Canberra Greek community was close-knit and maintained its cultural practices including traditional dance.
  • While Greek migrants had settled in nearby Queanbeyan and surrounding districts in small numbers from the 1880s, the first Greek migrant in Canberra, the newly established capital, arrived in 1927. By the 1940s there were about 60 Greek migrants living there. Many early settlers, including Emmanuel Gerakiteys, came from Kythera and the northern towns of the Peloponnese but Canberra’s Greek population also included Karpathians and Macedonians.
  • Greek migrants set up Canberra’s first cafes and in the 1950s, the Blue Moon Cafe, which the Gerakiteys family took over in 1949, was one of the few places aside from hotels where Canberrans could buy a meal. In order to make these family-run businesses a success, migrants often worked seven days a week, with children helping after school.
  • The close-knit nature of the Greek community in the Canberra area was largely the result of chain migration – settlers encouraging friends and relatives to emigrate. Many of the new migrants were then employed in family businesses. The businesses provided the foundation for the Greek community in Canberra, with many proprietors, including Gerakiteys, branching out into building and development and contributing substantially to Canberra’s growth.
  • This clip exemplifies typical features of the home-movie genre. The camera is hand held, with resulting instability of the image. Editing is achieved simply by turning the camera on and off and the content is shown in real time. The ‘actors’ are aware of the camera and look directly into it, making no attempt to pretend the camera is not there. Community events and family celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and picnics are common subjects for home movies.
  • In the late 1940s amateur filmmaking, particularly in colour, was beyond the reach of most Australians, being largely confined to those who could afford the high cost of the equipment and film. Making home movies had increased in popularity after the introduction of less expensive alternatives to the conventional 35-mm film format, including the 16-mm camera in 1923 and the 8-mm camera in 1932. Colour film was introduced in the 1930s. This footage is filmed in 16 mm.

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  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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