The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and inviting all Australians to discover its collection, achievements and milestones. These highlights will be available online (nfsa.gov.au) on 3 October, in a timeline chronicling the NFSA’s 30 years of existence.
CEO Michael Loebenstein said: “As the custodians of the national audiovisual collection we are proud to celebrate our first three decades. We also want to take this opportunity to thank the Australian public, and the talented creatives working in our film, recorded sound and broadcast industries, whose legacy lives on at the NFSA.
“Our reason for being is to develop, preserve and share a significant collection of sound and moving image – the ultimate ‘living’ record of people, places and events. The NFSA plays an essential role in the long-term survival, interpretation, enjoyment and re-use of our audiovisual heritage.”
The origin of the NFSA collection dates back to 1935, when the National Historical Film and Speaking Record Library was established by the federal government. It was subsequently managed by the Commonwealth National Library’s (predecessor to the National Library of Australia) Film Division from 1946.
The NFSA as we know it today was established in 1984, when Minister for Home Affairs and Environment Barry Cohen announced in Parliament the creation of an autonomous National Film and Sound Archive on 5 April.
The new organisation moved into its new home – the 1930 art deco building previously occupied by the Australian Institute of Anatomy – six months later.
Prime Minister Bob Hawke officially rededicated the building on the night of 3 October 1984, when he said: ‘The establishment of the NFSA is the expression, in institutional terms, of a need long felt by both participants and observers, to guarantee the preservation, to guarantee the availability of the vital but fragile heritage.’
One of the founding staff members, Janine Boyd – now the NFSA’s Manager of Collection Operations – recalls ‘a buzz of excitement and anticipation among staff.’
Thirty years later, the NFSA collection contains more than two million items spanning over 100 years of creative production in film, sound, and broadcast.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE NFSA
Items in the collection: 2.165 million (516,000 moving image; 444,000 recorded sound; 1,205,000 documents and artefacts).
Oldest items: The Hen Convention (sound recording on wax cylinder, 1896), the Lumiere film Workers Leaving the Factory and Australia’s earliest surviving moving image shot at the Melbourne Cup carnival (both from 1896), plus ‘magic lantern’ projectors from the early 1800s.
Iconic items: 1943 Oscar for Kokoda Frontline; costumes from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel’s Wedding; the car that splits in half from Malcolm; Graham Kennedy’s throne and crown; the world’s first feature-length narrative movie The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906).
Most wanted items: Lost films (ranging from the silent era to the original negative of 1985’s Bliss); Buddy Holly on Jack Davey’s AMPOL radio show in 1956; Slim Dusty’s unreleased pre-1946 demos; TV shows from 1956-60; Joan Sutherland’s 1961 Grammy. See full list of wanted collection works.
Titles preserved annually (average): 7,000
Michael Loebenstein is available for interview. Please contact Miguel Gonzalez, (02) 8202 0114 or [email protected] for more information.