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Science of cinema: CSIRO Film Unit

Have you ever witnessed a kangaroo’s birth in intimate close-up? How can you survive a bushfire? Why are rabbits such a threat to farmers? What is a 'moon echo’?

The answers to these questions – and many more – are found in the films produced by the CSIRO Film Unit, a selection of which are now on ASO.

CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency. CSIRO has its origins in the First World War and established its film unit in 1949. Over the next decades, it produced hundreds of documentaries, educational and training films.

A highlight of the unit’s output is Birth of the Red Kangaroo (1965). This documentary features some extraordinary footage and was an early AFI award winner and an international success with prizes at the Brussels Film Festival, American Film Festival and ANZAAS Exhibition.

The CSIRO Film Unit is now known as CSIRO Publishing and has a YouTube channel. You can view other CSIRO visual content, including films, on ScienceImage, the CSIRO image library.

The CSIRO has deposited a large amount of its film material, scripts and film unit documentation with the NFSA. Search the NFSA collection.

See all films on ASO tagged CSIRO and scientific research.

Division of Radiophysics documentary – 1950

Birth of the Red Kangaroo documentary – 1965

The War Against the Rabbit documentary – 1954

Research on Survival in Bushfires documentary – 1963

Dangerous Immigrant documentary – 1960

The Argentine Ant documentary – 1956

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