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Film as communication

The following clips have teachers’ notes related to this topic:

A country’s shame

from the documentary After Mabo (PG)

It is 1993. Dr John Hewson exclaims to the Parliament that the passing of the 'Mabo Bill’ will be a day of shame for Australia. Titles on the screen summarise the key points of the …

Law stick

from the documentary After Mabo (PG)

John Howard responds to the High Court’s decision on the native title of the Wik and Thayorre peoples in Wik Peoples v Queensland (1996) 141 ALR 129. News footage shows a …

Children’s birthday party

from the home movie Albion, Douglas: Children's Party (G)

This clip includes five-year-old Wally being picked up and hugged by his parents; an older man dressed as Santa Claus; children on a seesaw and playing ring-a-rosie; Wally being pushed on a swing by his …

Over the top

from the documentary Australia in World War 1 (PG)

Australian troops charge out of the trenches, going 'over the top’ to attack the enemy on the Western Front. Bombs explode nearby.

‘Attack with torpedoes’

from the documentary Australian Navy: Destroyers (G)

This clip shows a demonstration by an Australian Navy destroyer during a practice torpedo launch. It includes real time and slow motion shots of torpedoes being fired from the side of the vessel; the heads …

Coming out to the family

from the television program Australian Story – Since Adam Was a Boy (PG)

This is a searingly honest moment in which Adam’s parents truthfully tell how they felt when Adam told them he was gay.

They had anticipated the continuance of the family name and a mess …


from the advertisement Australia Post – Animation (G)

This is an Australia Post television commercial (TVC) promoting the Faxpost and Lettergram service. Not strictly animation, the footage has been shot at low speed to create the impression of very high speed travel through …

‘A commercial enterprise’

from the sponsored film Australia Post – Australia Post Inc (G)

In this clip Michael Talbot, Australia Post deputy state manager of New South Wales, addresses controlling postal managers (CPMs) and postal managers (PMs) directly, informing them of why and how things must change for post …

The end of an era

from the advertisement Australia Post – Changing Times (G)

This is an Australia Post television commercial (TVC) informing the public of the split of the Postmaster-General’s Department into two independent Commissions.

Motivation to compete

from the sponsored film Australia Post – Meeting the Challenge (G)

In this clip Michael Talbot, acting deputy state manager of New South Wales, talks about Australia Post’s new private business competitors and how the organisation is dealing with becoming a commercially based enterprise.

Secretaries and executives

from the sponsored film Australia Post – Onward Speed (G)

This segment addresses secretaries and executives and informs them of their responsibilities in the posting, receipt, sorting and delivery of mail.

Corporate image

from the advertisement Australia Post – We Deliver 1 (G)

This is an Australia Post television commercial (TVC) promoting the organisation’s new corporate image.

Backyard betting

from the newsreel Australia Today – Customs Officers Fight Against Drugs (G)

This newsreel segment begins with a title card which sums it up nicely: ‘slums, illegal gambling and SP bookmaking is a real and vital problem confronting the governments of Australia today’. Following newspaper headlines, the …

A better life

from the sponsored film Beautiful Melbourne (G)

This silent, black-and-white clip shows happy family scenes on a Housing Commission Estate in Richmond, Melbourne. The houses are made of brick. The family has a piano, tea set, a running indoor bath, and windows …

The circus arrives

from the documentary Behind the Big Top (G)

Once the circus train has arrived, the task of unloading begins. The elephants and ponies are guided out of the carriages. The elephants are then shown pulling the poles for the big top from the …

Inside the sawdust arena

from the documentary Behind the Big Top (G)

The procession of performers and circus acts passes by the camera to enter the big top arena including horses, clowns and elephants. Some of the acts are filmed including a female lion tamer, a cycling …

Desert economy

from the documentary Benny and the Dreamers (G)

Aerial shots of Hermannsburg in Central Australia are followed by black-and-white historical footage of Indigenous people going about their business on the mission. Interview footage of Pastor F. W Albrecht talking about Indigenous people, their …


from the documentary Benny and the Dreamers (G)

Benny Tjapaltarri and Mick Ngamurarri tell us the significance of the Dreaming, and how the Dreaming ancestors created the landscape.

Path to progress

from the documentary Benny and the Dreamers (G)

After black-and-white footage of Pintubi people, Smithy Zimeran Tjampitjinpa recalls being moved to Papunya. Yuyua Nampitjinpa talks about her experience in the mission school.

The hungry mile

from the television program A Big Country – On the Hook (PG)

Waterside workers are seen on the wharf while the voice-over describes their comfortable work conditions and job security, A montage of historical footage shows a queue of workers in the 1930s, and waterside workers using …

‘They look after you down here’

from the television program A Big Country – On the Hook (PG)

We see waterside workers using machinery. The voice-over describes how mechanisation has greatly reduced the hard labour required for the job and the number of employees needed. Current 'wharfies’ confess to little knowledge of 'the …

A new kidney

from the documentary Big Girls Don't Cry (G)

Photographs of baby Mariah attached to a kidney dialysis machine. Mariah’s parents Angie and David from the Kamilaroi clan talk about supporting her during this period. A doctor tells us the function of the …

Wouldn’t change a thing

from the documentary Big Girls Don't Cry (G)

Mariah as a young girl talks about karate, and living an active life. Mariah’s parents Angie and Dave talk about what is required to support Mariah in living with her condition. A medical practitioner …

Darwin town

from the documentary Big Girls Don't Cry (G)

We see patients in a renal ward as Dr Paul Snelling, the director of Northern Territory Renal Health, tells us that Darwin has a 10 times higher incidence than anywhere else in the country, of …

Warfare and its consequences

from the documentary Black Harvest (PG)

In a wide shot, many highlanders are chanting and running through the grass with spears. Joe sits at home looking distraught. The Ganiga return to the village and attend to a wounded man. They can …

The first inhabitants

from the television program The Blainey View – Footprints (PG)

Wandjuk Marika, the great artist and poet of the people of Arnhem Land in northern Australia, speaks to the historian Geoffrey Blainey of being one with the land and of his passion for land rights …

Japan invades China

from the documentary A Breath (PG)

Japan invaded China in 1934. Forty million Chinese fled the invasionary forces. Cartoonist Huang Miaozi drew anti-Japanese slogans to protest the invasion.

China’s Cultural Revolution

from the documentary A Breath (PG)

The Cultural Revolution started in 1966 and lasted ten years. Artists Huang Miaozi and his wife Yu Feng were arrested along with other artists and writers. Many were imprisoned without trial. Communist leader Mao Tse …

The breakout

from the feature film Broken Sun (PG)

Kamimura (Kuni Hashimoto), the Japanese prisoner leading the outbreak, addresses his fellow prisoners and prepares them for the glory of imminent death. The men then begin their breakout in a brief sequence that quickly segues …

The honeymooners return

from the advertisement Bushells Tea: The Charmed Cup (PG)

This clip is part two in a three-part, serialised Bushells tea cinema advertisement. It shows the newly-married couple returning from their honeymoon on a cruise ship, proving that the tea reading in part one has …

Modelling fashion

from the advertisement Camp-Berlei Foundation Garments: Physiological Support (G)

Fashionable garments are modelled displaying a range of designers clothes include a dress by couturier Melnotte Simonin; a hand-embroidered coat with fur trim by designer Jacques Heim, a painted velvet georgette fabric again by Melnotte …

Withdrawing funds

from the sponsored film Commonwealth Bank – The School Bank (G)

In the ground floor customer service area of the Sydney central branch of the Commonwealth Bank in Martin Place, Mr Phillips explains to the children the system of withdrawing account funds from a bank branch.

An ancient civilisation

from the documentary Cradle of Creation (G)

On board a paddle steamer, the camera travels up the Euphrates river passing villages in the swamp and marshland region of the country – a lush landscape strewn with long reeds and covered in date palms …

The Anzac Hostel for returned soldiers

from the documentary The Digger Carries On: Repatriation Illustrated (PG)

This clip from a short documentary shows returned First World War servicemen lying in their beds, attended by nurses at the Anzac Hostel in 1919. They sew, carve decorative wooden pieces, play musical instruments and …

A marriage of cultures

from the documentary Dreamtime, Machinetime (PG)

A brush pushes dots against an all black canvas. Trevor Nickolls tells us about the influences that shape his work. Nickolls refers to the Western machinery and Indigenous cosmology known as the Dreaming.

Oliver’s multiple abductions

from the documentary Empty Arms, Broken Hearts (PG)

Oliver has been abducted by his father four times. The father has been imprisoned over the abduction. The adverse psychological effect on Oliver is evident.

Westbrook Farm Home

from the sponsored film Eventide and Westbrook Farm Home: Brisbane City Mission (G)

The boys at Westbrook Farm Home for Boys in Queensland’s southeast sleep in open wards. The dormitories are connected to a main dining room where they gather for meals. The superintendent and his wife …

Guns and pigs

from the documentary First Contact (PG)

In interview and voice-over, James Leahy recollects the first time the Leahy brothers came across a new community of highlanders. He explains that, fearful of being outnumbered by large numbers of people they could not …

‘Mission of mercy’

from the sponsored film The Flying Doctor (G)

In a dramatic re-enactment, set on a remote homestead in Australia’s outback, a station worker is suffering an attack of acute appendicitis. A member of the homestead radios for help to a hospital hundreds …

A future governor-general

from the television program Four Corners – The First Program (PG)

The very first Four Corners opens with vox pops in a busy Sydney street, asking people whether a future governor-general should be British or Australian. The reporter is Bob Sanders.

Attraction of the wilderness

from the documentary Franklin River Journey (G)

Amateur botanist Antonius Moscal says that rafting down the wilderness of the Franklin River reminds him of the definition of God. Moscal says nature reflects God.

No future

from the short film From Sand to Celluloid – No Way to Forget (PG)

Night-time. White lines disappear into the darkness as a solitary car drives along a lonely stretch of country road. Files stacked beside the driver tell us that he is a field officer for the Royal …


from the documentary Frontline (M)

Neil Davis talks about working with the South Vietnamese army. He recalls that they were involved in fighting much more than the American forces, and suffered correspondingly higher casualties. The Americans were referred to as …

‘Too many pictures’

from the documentary Frontline (PG)

Combat cameraman Neil Davis discusses one of the most memorable images of the Vietnam War, when the national police chief shot dead a Vietnamese suspect. Davis tells the full story of how the prisoner was …

‘The average man’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – FE Holden: The Average Man (G)

This clip explains the methods used to design the new model FE Holden. A GMH employee holds a transparent plastic life-size model to demonstrate how the 'average man’ determines the proportions of …

Range of products

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – Range of Products (G)

In a suburban street, a woman driving a Holden pulls up to do her Saturday morning shopping. Other GMH cars, including a Vauxhall, Chevrolet and Pontiac, are shown. The woman enters a …

‘Saturday kind of car’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – Saturday Kind of Car (G)

A paperboy delivers the Saturday newspaper in a suburban street. A man in his pyjamas waves to his wife as she leaves to do the weekly grocery shopping, taking her daughter and the family dog …

‘White gold of Australia’

from the feature film Heritage (G)

The great granddaughter of Biddy O’Shea has flown to the Northern Territory station run by Frank Morrison, great grandson of James, to talk about their future together, but they disagree about his ‘prehistoric’ views …


from the documentary Joe Leahy's Neighbours (G)

At a community meeting, a young man debates with Joe Leahy about the profit split of their Kaugum coffee plantation. Leahy explains how he is the one taking the risk with the bank loan.

Italy revisited

from the documentary The Joys of the Women (PG)

Kavisha Mazzella visits Italy to find traditional songs. She interviews musicologist Professor Ugo Vuoso about how the songs are recorded for posterity.

The Brisbane Exhibition

from the home movie McIlwraith, Peter: Brisbane Show and Moonbi Park (G)

This home movie clip shows various scenes filmed by Peter McIlwraith at the Brisbane Exhibition (or 'Ekka’) in the 1950s. It includes: scenes of a merry-go-round with children and adults riding on the horse-shaped seats …

‘How extraordinary we are’

from the television program Mum’s the Word – Episode 9 (PG)

A group of women speak with passion about the wonder of childbirth and the joy of having a child and how that has changed their lives.

‘I don’t mean you’

from the documentary My Mother India (PG)

In 1984 the Uberoi family has to leave India to escape the anti-Sikh riots. The filmmaker’s sister Zoe describes her distress when a school friend criticises the Sikhs but says she means nothing against …

Family album

from the advertisement Nestle's MILO Cinema Advertisement: Family Album (G)

John and his family are introduced through a real life family album. As the pages are turned, the voice-over tells the story of their lives. The first picture is of John as a young boy …

The joy of living

from the advertisement Nestle's MILO Cinema Advertisement: The Joy of Living (G)

To be bright and full of energy in the mornings, it is crucial to get a good night’s rest. A man who has a heavy dinner, reads horror books and tosses and turns all …

Modern alchemy

from the television program The New Inventors – Series 1 Episode 8 (G)

Inventor John Walker has found a way of turning landfill into compost, a form of contemporary alchemy. It’s a system capable of functioning on a huge scale, very economically.

Fighting a fire

from the feature film On Our Selection (G)

The whole family joins a desperate battle to save the fencing around the crops, to no avail. Youngest son Joe (Arthur Wilson) thinks the fire is a splendid sight. Dad (Percy Walshe) sees it as …

Dave in love

from the feature film On Our Selection (G)

Dave (Tal Ordell) dances with glee after he receives a letter from his new sweetheart Lily White (Carmen Coleman). Joe, the youngest Rudd (Arthur Wilson) thinks he’s gone mad. The Rudd women crowd around …

Canvas city begins to take shape

from the sponsored film Operation Blowdown (PG)

The aims of the Operation Blowdown test are set out and the troops clear a site in the Cape York rainforest for the location of the test team.

Across the colour bar

from the documentary Pioneers of Love (PG)

Historical footage is intercut with an interview with Flora Hoolihan, daughter of Leandro Illin and Kitty Clarke. She tells of her mother being pursued by the police. We also see historical footage of children eating …

Inside the 38th parallel

from the documentary Pyongyang Diaries (G)

At Panmunjom, the Joint Security Area of the DMZ or Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, soldiers from both sides silently face-off against one another while tourists and journalists look on. A North Korean …

‘This is not easy’

from the feature film The Quiet Room (PG)

The mother (Celine O’Leary) sits watching her daughter’s angry drawing. She has come to tell her that her father is moving out. The child carries on a conversation that her mother can’t …

‘That’s the Rinso way’

from the advertisement Rinso Washing Powder: Easy Does It (G)

An opening credits sequence introducing the stars of Easy Does It is accompanied by a musical soundtrack. The first scene is at a grocery counter where a grocer (Dan Agar) attempts to sell a box …

All in a day’s work

from the television program Scales of Justice (PG)

Provisionary Constable Webber (Simon Burke) is on patrol with his more senior sergeant (Bill Hunter). When an alarm sounds at a local furrier, they’re sent to investigate. The rookie Constable is sent to check …

Playing with fire

from the television program Scales of Justice (PG)

Detective Inspector Miles (Tim Robertson), known as Killer Miles to the uniformed men, cautiously approaches a luxury cruiser tied up at the wharf. Its owner is 'Nipper’ Jackson (Tony Barry), one of Sydney’s most …


from the documentary Selling Sickness (PG)

Newly created disease premenstrual dysphoric disorder was designed to market a drug. Prozac, an antidepressant, was repackaged as Sarafem specifically to treat the disease.

‘Turning the neighbourhood into a tip!’

from the television program Snobs – Episode 8 (G)

The local rubbish collection is a bonanza for the recycling ‘ferals’ Marian (Ross Pirrelli) and Spike (Matthew Waters) but it’s too much for Rachael Oakley (Nathy Gaffney) who complains to the local council. The …

Old Jindabyne

from the sponsored film Snowy Hydro – The Jindabyne Story (PG)

As the waters of Lake Jindabyne, part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, begin to rise, we take a last look at old Jindabyne.

‘Stop filming’

from the documentary South of the Border (PG)

Filmmaker David Bradbury is filming Salvadoran protest song being sung by young people at a train station. A policeman tells him to stop as he does not have permission to film. The crew continues to …

My father’s country

from the documentary Sunset to Sunrise (ingwartentyele – arrerlkeme) (G)

Arrernte Mat-utjarra Elder Rupert Max Stuart’s voice runs over the image of the unfolding night in a riverbed outside of Alice Springs. Max tells us he’s come home. He’s 77 years old …

This is the Dreaming

from the documentary Sunset to Sunrise (ingwartentyele – arrerlkeme) (G)

Arrernte Mat-utjarra Elder Rupert Max Stuart sits by the fire, telling his descendents a yarn about the Dreaming. Max has a grandfather from the Lurritja side, and a grandfather from the Arrernte side, and says …

‘Punch a postie’

from the documentary Super 8 Soldiers (PG)

Vietnam veterans Rowan Marsh and Peter Stainthorpe recollect the anti-Vietnam demonstrations with ambivalence. They explain that when unions put a go-slow on mail delivery to soldiers in Vietnam as part of the protest, that was …

‘I just didn’t seem to fit in’

from the documentary Super 8 Soldiers (PG)

Vietnam veterans Peter Stainthorpe and Rowan Marsh recall returning to Melbourne after two years of active service in Vietnam. They felt that nothing had changed at home and yet they had changed. They sought out …

Irrigation construction and equipment

from the documentary A Trip Along the River Murray (G)

This clip shows an orange-peel scoop; ‘flying fox’ machinery; Lake Victoria; a channel bridge and inlet regulator; and the construction of channels and levees.

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