Menzies Screening Series 2018/19

I’m proud to announce that I’ll be back at the Menzies Australia Institute at King’s College London this academic year, as curator and presenter of the second Menzies Screening Series.


Following on from our 2017/18 series, which sought to position filmic visions of Australia within a transnational context, this year’s Menzies Screening Series focuses on cinema’s role in perpetuating and solidifying settler colonial regimes, not only in Australia, but also in the fellow ‘White Dominions’ of Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Against of the backdrop of mounting decolonisation, a number of post-war productions by London-based companies highlighted British attitudes towards the life of its settler colonies. Over the course of the year, we will screen three such films – set at various historical moments in the lives of these ‘new nations’ – which hold up settler colonial spaces as not only the last bastion of ‘Britishness’ in the former Empire, but also as figureheads for the newly reconfigured Commonwealth of Nations.

These three British productions will be accompanied by three ‘local’ productions, which emerged from the various national contexts in the 1960s ,‘70s, and ‘80s. Each of these films was created at a time when the former colonies began to assert their own sense of cultural nationalism, one that was often built upon the figure of the white male and the pioneering family. In doing so, they help to demonstrate how settler nationhood persists largely as a continuation of British colonial visions of the ideal (aka ‘white’) nation.

On one level, this group of films depicts discrete settler colonial spaces from varying imperial and national contexts. By placing them in direct dialogue, however, this series aims to offer a closer examination of the subtle dynamics that underpin nations with a shared heritage, but entirely divergent histories of expansion, engagement, and exploitation.

The 2018/19 series will be organised according to settler colonial space, and alternate between British and ‘local’ productions. We begin in Australia, with Ealing Studios’ first contact narrative Bitter Springs (Ralph Smart, 1950) on 13 November 2018, followed by iconic New Wave film Sunday Too Far Away (Ken Hannam, 1975) on 4 December 2018. From there, the focus will shift to Canada, with a screening of Rocky Mountains frontier drama Campbell’s Kingdom (Ralph Thomas, 1957) on 5 February 2019, and the first fiction feature by the Canadian National Film Board, The Drylanders (Don Haldane, 1963) on 5 March 2019. Our series concludes with a focus on Aotearoa New Zealand, with colonial adventure film The Seekers (Ken Annakin, 1954) on 2 April 2019, before the stark vision of Te Kooti’s War offered in Utu (Geoff Murphy, 1984) on 7 May 2019 rounds out the series.

All screenings will be held at King’s College London, and will begin with a short contextual introduction by myself, followed by the film and an open group discussion. These screenings are free, and open to all, but advance booking is necessary. Also, whilst you must register for individual screenings, we would also encourage attendees to attend the entire screening series, where possible, in order to fully engage with the material under discussion and gain a good understanding of the transnational contexts under discussion. After the final screening, we hope to round the series out with a panel discussion and drinks reception, with speakers still to be confirmed.

I look forward to welcoming you to the 2018/19 Menzies Screening Series.

Menzies Screenings Update

After 35-odd years as the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, Britain’s leading academic light for all things Australian recently changed tack to become the Menzies Australia Institute.

A full account of this transformation can be found in the organisation’s Summer Newsletter, which also offers this nice little round-up of my Menzies Screening series:

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 17.46.56

In turn, I’d like to thank Dr Ian Henderson, Dr Peter Kilroy, James Baggeley, and Blair Clarke for all their assistance in staging the 2017/18 series, as well as Sonal Kantaria and Saeed Taji Farouky for participating in the final session.

Information on the 2017/18 Menzies Screening Series is available elsewhere on this site, if you want to see what you missed. Otherwise, watch this space for a forthcoming announcement about what we’ll be offering in 2018/19.

Namatjira Project: Review + Screening

Gross 0218 Albert Namatjira

Sera Davies’ excellent documentary Namatjira Project had its UK premiere at Bertha DocHouse, Curzon Bloomsbury on Friday 1 June, followed by a Q&A with Dr Diana Young (University of Queensland), in conversation with producer Sophia Marinos and Big hArt Creative Director and playwright Scott Rankin (live via Skype from Australia). A repeat screening took place on Saturday 2 June. Namatjira Project screened as a parallel event to the RAI conference Art, Materiality and Representation, in partnership with the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King’s College London.

To tie in with the screening, I wrote a short review for the Menzies Centre website.

Continue reading “Namatjira Project: Review + Screening”