an NFSA website

Australia Today

Australia Today billed itself as a 'digest of current events’.

It was set up in the late 1930s by Rupert Kathner as an alternative news source to established newsreels like Cinesound and Movietone (see the Cinesound Movietone Australian Newsreel Collection).

Australia Today newsreels went beyond basic reportage with a more documentary feel, using re-constructions and re-enactments to produce a dramatically engaging product. The newsreels reported on crime, poverty, international relations, national security and other contemporary social issues in Australia during the Depression and the Second World War.

Kathner produced Australia Today with his filmmaking partner, Alma Brooks, through their production company Enterprise Film Co. They also produced the feature films Wings of Destiny (1940) and The Glenrowan Affair (1951). Today, less than a dozen of Kathner’s newsreels survive. Kathner and Brooks were the subject of Alec Morgan's dramatised documentary Hunt Angels (2006).

Titles in this collection

Australia Today – Australia’s 5th Column 1941

According to this newsreel, Australia is at war with the '5th Column’, threatened by a ruthless enemy whose objective is the 'downfall of the British Empire’.

Australia Today – Customs Officers Fight Against Drugs 1938

Stories in this Australia Today newsreel cover topics like illegal drug importation and crime syndicates; and SP bookmaking and gambling.

Australia Today – Fort Denison: [Pinchgut]: A Relic of Early Sydney 1939

This newsreel looks nostalgically at the history of Fort Denison, a fortified island in Sydney Harbour, and its place in Sydney’s military and cultural heritage.

Australia Today – Lucky Strike at Larkinville, WA and other segments 1938

Segments in this newsreel cover gold prospecting in Western Australia; deadly Australian snakes; and proposals for the extension of pub drinking hours.

Australia Today – Man-Eater 1939

Shark attacks on populated beaches are statistically not that common in Australia, but they attract sensational media coverage of the type seen in this newsreel.

Australia Today – Men of Tomorrow 1939

Depicting the family life of a young boy in the poorer suburbs of Sydney, this newsreel touches on society’s responsibility to offer its youth a better future.

Australia Today – The ‘Pyjama Girl’ Murder Case 1939

This newsreel reconstructs the coronial inquest into the Pyjama Girl mystery, one of the most baffling unsolved murder cases in Australian criminal history.