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The Beginner’s Guide to the Australian New Wave

From ‘Wake in Firght’ and beyond, mate.
My Brilliant Career Australian New Wave
GUO Film Distributors
By  · Published on August 30th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on a brief history of the Australian New Wave.

Setting out to craft a film industry can be a slippery slope if you go in with the wrong mindset. In 1967, the Canadian government founded a federal initiative called the Canadian Film Development Corporation in an effort to, among other things, develop a “national film identity.” In something of a monkey’s paw curl, the resulting tax haven paved the way for a slew of sleazy, low-budget flicks, from David Cronenberg’s Shivers to an infamous slew of “maple porns.”

To oversimplify: the government wanted one thing (the Can-Con prejudice towards the pastoral, the documentary, and the naturalistic) but got another (a reputation for inexpensive genre fare).

That isn’t the whole story, but it is a “cautionary tale” nevertheless. If you’re a government intent on crafting a national film industry, you need to face the reality. Film industries are made up of lots of different kinds of movies. Shivers, a movie about zombifying sex slugs invading a Montreal apartment building, made money for the Canadian government. Their response? To debate its social and artistic value on the floor of Parliament.

What Was the Australian New Wave?

With Canada’s tumultuous (and ongoing) cinematic identity crisis in mind, it’s interesting to think about a parallel Commonwealth effort. The Australian Film Development Corporation (later the Australian Film Commission) was established a few years after the CFDC.

From the early 1970s through the mid-1980s, government funding for national film production opened the door to a generation of fearless, unconventional cinematic voices who ushered in a short-lived, but rapturous cinematic output. Indeed, many of the key players in this Australian New Wave — voices such as Peter Weir, George Miller, and Gillian Armstrong — would go on to international success.

The video essay below charts some of the highlights of the movement (including Walkabout, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and My Brilliant Career). It also suggests some thematic throughlines, including subversive visions of Australia’s colonial history. And uurgent concerns for the country’s relationship and mistreatment of its Indigenous peoples.

Watch “A Brief History of the Australian New Wave”:

Who made this?

This video essay on the Australian New Wave comes courtesy of the fine folks at Little White Lies, a film-obsessed magazine based in the United Kingdom. Will Webb wrote and edited this video, which was produced by Adam Woodward. You can follow Little White Lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here. You can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.