2017 Festival Program

The Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF) launches with a mini-retrospective of the 1975 International Women’s Film Festival. From the Australian films screened at the 1975 festival, MWFF have curated a program to revisit the aims of the original festival in challenging industrial gender imbalance, exploring the representation of women’s bodies and the diversity of women’s perspectives, and providing a space for self-determination and empowerment through creativity. 

Screening alongside these films are a selection of contemporary shorts and two panel forums exploring the position of women in screen culture.

Friday 3rd March, 2017

Opening Night Celebration

The Cheaters (1929, 90mins)

with live musical accompaniment from ZULYA AND THE CHILDREN OF THE UNDERGROUND

7pm, Treasury Theatre

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A tale of love, crime and familial tension produced by pioneering Australian filmmaking team, the McDonagh sisters.

Paula Marsh (Isobel McDonagh credited as Marie Lorraine), daughter and partner in crime of a renowned thief Bill Marsh (Arthur Greenaway), decides to quit the family business after falling in love with Lee Travers (Josef Bambach) son of a wealthy businessman. However Bill wants to do just one more job – rob John Travers (John Faulkner), Lee’s father.

The Cheaters is a milestone Australian film produced by Isobel, Phyllis and Paulette McDonagh. Although originally a silent film, the McDonagh's were forced by Australian distributors to rework the film with sound after the popularity of The Jazz Singer (1927), making it one of the first sound films made in Australia. This part sound/part silent version now only exists in fragments. This is a truly rare opportunity to watch the 1929 version by one of Australia’s first female film producing teams on the big screen once again. 

Ticket price also includes entry into the afterparty.

Saturday 4th March, 2017

Patricia Edgar Retrospective

10am, Treasury Theatre, 120mins

Dr. Patricia Edgar AM is a pioneer of women’s film and television production, and prolific scholar and writer. She was the first Chairperson of the Centre for Media and Communication at La Trobe University, helping to establish their film production program. Edgar has also been instrumental in the development of Australian children’s television as one of the founders of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and producing programs such as Round the Twist (1989-2001) and Lift Off (1992). In 2002, Edgar was awarded the Australia Film Institute Longford Lifetime Achievement Award. MWFF is proud to be screening three of Edgar’s documentary films from her early career followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. 

To learn a bit more about Patricia's amazing career, head to our spotlight page here.

Got At (1972, 18mins)

"To-day they call it the 'Feminist Arts Course' (Beverly Hills High School, Sydney), but when this film was made it was just the Charm and Cooking classes. This film looks at the different treatment of boys and girls at a typical high school and 'listens in' on some interesting conversations..." (Synopsis from IWFF '75 Program).


It’s Just Something Kids Do (1973, 20mins)

"Children's play is an important learning process for them. But as the sterility of urban high rise development encroaches, their opportunities for investigation and discovery diminish. This film shows how children suffer from this and offers some suggestions as to how things can be changed and are being changed in some other countries." (Synopsis from IWFF '75 Program)


Mexico 75 (1975, 50mins) 

The only Australian documentary film made about the 1975 International Women's Year Conference held in Mexico City. The conference explored the continued international discrimination against women and preceded the UN's Decade for Women. Mexico 75 highlights the beginnings of a global push towards more concerted efforts in the fight against gender inequality and for women's rights and advancement - a timely film to revisit in our current cultural climate.

panel: Between 1975 and today: what have we learned about women’s filmmaking?

12:30pm, Treasury Theatre, 60mins

The issues and conversation around gender inequality in the screen industry is not a new phenomenon. This panel looks back on the similarities faced by women working in film in the 1970s and asks how far have women come in the industry since then and where do we go from here?

Panelists include Annette Blonski (filmmaker And Not Even Cry), Linda Blagg (digital filmmaker and creator of Daddythings), Dr Suzanne Spunner (Melbourne co-ordinator of the International Women's Film Festival 1975), and Victoria Waghorn (filmmaker Chick Addict Salome's Picnic). Moderated by Associate Professor Belinda Smaill (Monash University, School of Media, Film and Journalism).

Get to know our panelists here.

Art & Life, Then & Now

2:30pm, Treasury Theatre, 85mins

(Session recommended for 18 years and over)

A selection of shorts drawn from the Australian films originally screened at the 1975 International Women’s Film Festival alongside contemporary experimental and art cinema works. These films explore the complexities and diversity of women’s perspectives, women’s bodies and alternate ways of seeing.

Films include:

Still Life  ((Jeni Thornley & Dasha Ross, 1974)

Still Life ((Jeni Thornley & Dasha Ross, 1974)

Still Life (Jeni Thornley & Dasha Ross, 1974, 7mins)

Daddythings (Linda Blagg, 1974, 10mins)

One Hundred a Day (Gillian Armstrong, 1973, 8mins)

And Not Even Cry (Annette Blonski, 1974, 11mins)

Watercourse (Hanna Chetwin, 2015, 5mins)

Intimacy is Hair in the Drain (Hanna Chetwin, 2015, 8mins) 

Progressive Evolution (Clare Ferra, 2011, 6:40mins)

Love Oscillation (Clare Ferra, 2012, 7:50mins)

Thrash-Her (Natalie Randall, Emily O'Connor, 2014, 3:40mins) 

After the Rainbow (Soda Jerk, 2009, 5:42mins)

Chick Addict (Victoria Waghorn, 2009, 1:15mins)

Salome’s Picnic (Victoria Waghorn, 2008, 1:01mins)

Lit (Amie Batalibasi, 2016, 15mins)

panel: Making, writing, doing: Women getting a start in screen culture 

4:30pm, Treasury Theatre, 60mins

Looking at the future of Australian screen culture, how can women get their foot in the door? This panel explores the pathways into and experiences of women entering both the industry and the broader cultural activities supporting screen production, such as film criticism. 

Panelists include filmmaker Amie Batalibasi, actress Nyawuda Chuol, writer/director Nora Niasari, and film critic and Artistic Director of the Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia, Cerise Howard. 

Moderated by Vy Wijekumar (Human Rights Arts & Film Festival).

Get to know our panelists here.