Norma Disher & John Hughes In Conversation: The Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit – 12 August 2004

Title: Norma Disher & John Hughes In Conversation: The Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit
Location: AFC Theatre – 150 William St, Woolloomoloo
Description: WHAT:

Norma Disher & John Hughes In Conversation:
The Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit
Discussion and screenings.

WHERE:

AFC Theatre – 150 William St, Woolloomoloo

WHEN:

Thursday 12 August 2004 – 6pm drinks for 7pm start.

ENTRY:

Gold Coin Donation

RSVP

by Aug 10 – info@ozdox.org
Seats reserved till 6.45pm only.
Start Time: 18:00
Date: 2004-08-12

Thursday 12 August 2004

The Australian Documentary Forum and ASDA
in association with AFTRS, AFC, UTS, Film Australia and Macquarie University
presents

Norma Disher & John Hughes In Conversation:
The Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit

WHAT:

Norma Disher & John Hughes In Conversation:
The Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit
Discussion and screenings.

WHERE:

AFC Theatre – 150 William St, Woolloomoloo

WHEN:

Thursday 12 August 2004 – 6pm drinks for 7pm start.

ENTRY:

Gold Coin Donation

RSVP

by Aug 10 – info@ozdox.org
Seats reserved till 6.45pm only.

THE PROGRAM

Documentary has a long history of interrogating the world and representing different points of view, voices that don’t always get much of a hearing in those media which are institutionally or industrially controlled. Today television is the primary locus for documentary exhibition, but throughout its history, there has also been a tradition of alternative forms of documentary production and distribution both in Australia and across the world.

In the sixties and seventies there was the Melbourne Filmmakers Co-op and ‘Reel Women’ in Melbourne, the Women’s Film Group and the Sydney Filmmakers’ Co-op in Sydney, the Newsreel Group in the USA, and in UK, the film workshop movement spearheaded by Cinema Action and the Berwick Street Collective. These organizations of filmmakers were dedicated to making non-fiction works in ways that didn’t replicate the hierarchical industrial model, and distributing them outside the accepted channels. And their subject matter often reflected a preoccupation with issues such as war and peace, gender, class and race.

Norma Disher, Jock and John Hughes

But before the sixties, there was the fifties… and, while in Melbourne the ‘Realist Film Unit’ had made a series a independent films (1946-52), in Sydney a small band of filmmakers stood out for the productivity and sustained excellence of their work. This was the Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit. A group of three – Jock Levy, Keith Gow and Norma Disher – made 17 films between 1953-9, most of them for trade unions… The films were financed by the trade union movement, principally the Waterside Workers Federation. They spoke of important issues – working conditions, health and safety, housing. They weren’t screened much in cinemas although The Hungry Miles was screened at the Sydney Film Festival in 1955 – instead they were taken by the filmmakers into the streets, homes and workplaces and were screened and discussed on the spot! The unit was indymedia before indymedia.

Norma Disher, a member of this pioneering Australian filmmaking group will be the special guest of Ozdox on August 12. Norma will be in conversation with John Hughes, one of Australia’s leading filmmakers, whose 1981 film about the unit, Film-Work, introduced a newer generation of filmmakers to their works.

Brief biog: Norma Disher
Norma Disher has been working with trade unions for most of her adult life. Her longstanding involvement in cultural production began in the late 1940s when she joined Sydney’s New Theatre. It was through her work with New Theatre that she discovered the connection between art and politics which was to inform all her future endeavours and most significantly, her work in the Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit.

Brief biog: John Hughes
JH is an Australian independent producer, writer and director in documentary and drama. He has taught filmmaking, cinema and cultural studies. Commissioning Editor for documentary with SBS Independent. (1998-2001). Current projects: The Archive Project, installation and ‘new media’ with The Australian Centre for the Moving Image; television series: The Art of War with Betty Churcher (producer/director), and DIY Democracy, interactive DVD with Film Australia.

Recent credits:
River of Dreams (producer/director) 52 mins, 2002,
After Mabo’ (co-producer/writer/director) 84 mins, 1997,
‘What I Have Written’ (producer / director) cinema feature 102 mins, 1996,
…released in Official Competition, Berlin, 1996,
One Way Street (producer/writer/director) 54 mins, 1992.

Please RSVP by Aug 10 to: info@ozdox.org
Be advised seats are reserved till 6.45pm.