Digital Cinema

digital cinema

In recent years, the film industry has been rocked by the advance of digital technology. From the unexpected success of the first lo-fi Dogme95 film, The Celebration (1998), to George Lucas' foray into digital production and delivery, the celluloid landscape is becoming increasingly digitised.

This program pays tribute to the filmmakers who have embraced the opportunities that new technologies offer and who have, as a result, created new forms of cinema.

The Digital Cinema program contains unexpected parallels and engaging contradictions:

  • the same developments in home video technologies that spawned the Blair Witch phenomenon have also enabled classic director Agnès Varda to achieve a heightened intimacy in her acclaimed documentary The Gleaners and I.
  • the Danish movement Dogme95 and its touted manifesto inspired alternative American production models such as InDigEnt, whose collective approach to adventurous filmmaking is funded by the Independent Film Channel.
  • a new preoccupation with the long-take has emerged, most spectacularly captured by the prototype HD camera developed to shoot Alexandr Sokurov's single-shot feature film Russian Ark. Compare this with emerging Australian filmmakers M. Frank's and Victoria Batchelor's evocative one-take short films Purgatory and Broken.
  • computer-generated visions that cross both art and commercial realms are highlighted in the programs from progressive international touring event Resfest. The Australian shorts in the Digital Projections program utilise new technologies in equally vibrant, stylish and interrogative ways.

Digital Cinema was programmed in response to the enormous excitement that surrounded the lead-up to the opening of ACMI's new, superbly equipped cinemas, complete with Australia's first digital projector. This program, like many to follow, has its eye firmly on the future and its heart located in the magnificent history of the moving image.

Curated by Clare Stewart, ACMI Cinema Programmer

The Program


Founded in 1996, Res Media Group was one of the first voices in digital media and filmmaking. Res seeks out and showcases the most innovative and creative storytellers using new digital technologies through its bi-monthly digital lifestyle magazine RES, its international touring festival, extensive online network, DVD and film distribution, and television properties. Resfest tours to 14 cities in seven countries on five continents including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Seoul, London, Rio and Cape Town.


This program presents the recent work of three great international work of three great international directors - Alexandr Sokurov, Eric Rohmer and Agnès Varda - whose respective contribution to the world of cinema has been enhanced by their recent explorations of digital filmmaking technology. These three films are extremely diverse in visual style and subject matter; what they have in common is a formal interest in what digital can do differently to celluloid.


Gary Winick, John Sloss, Jonathan Sehring, and Caroline Kaplan established InDigEnt in 1999, inspired by Dogme95 and the legacy of John Cassavetes. Financed by the Independent Film Channel (IFC) to produce ten low-budget digital feature films, InDigEnt adopts a 'collective' approach to filmmaking, providing a production support base for the filmmakers, while allowing them to maintain creative control of their projects. InDigEnt distinguished itself from other digital filmmaking companies that emerged in the late 1990s: Next Wave Films and Blowup Pictures embodied a more hybrid mix of radical and commercial intent and were primarily established to provide finishing funds. Shot digitally, on very low budgets, the seven InDigEnt films completed to date have secured impressive distribution deals internationally (the first five with Lionsgate, Tadpole with Miramax and Personal Velocity with United Artists) and have screened variously at international festivals including Cannes, Venice, Toronto and Sundance.

Garage Thrills

Both The Last Broadcast and The Blair Witch Project embody a certain technological zeitgeist, a moment in time where the tools of the filmmaking trade enter the home. In the late 1990s it became possible to start making feature length films of those gruesome urban legends that abound at teenage slumber parties. The best way to get around the technical limitations was to embed the lo-fi technology in the way you told the story what could be scarier than being behind a camera when you can't see what's behind you?


Heralding the 'technological storm, the result of which will be the democratisation of cinema', a group of Danish filmmakers formalised the Dogme95 manifesto in March 1995. The filmmakers were required to sign The Vow of Chastity, acknowledging that they adhered to the ten strict production regulations - such as on location shooting, no post-produced sound, and use only of a hand-held camera. They were also required to produce a signed Confession of any misdemeanours at the conclusion of the production. To cynics Dogme95 remains an easy marketing tag; to the converts, it is a radical set of tenets designed to disrupt the rules of contemporary dramatic filmmaking. Either way, there is no doubt that Dogme95 is a response to advances in digital filmmaking technology. Filmmakers all over the world now follow the manifesto and apply to the original collective to have their films 'certified' as Dogme.


ACMI Cinema Programs: Natasha Gadd, Fiona O'Grady, Roberta Ciabarra, Paul Sutton, Amber Victor-Gordon, Andre Bernard, Tim McGrath > ACMI Marketing: Caroline Jackson, Brendan Wall, Charmaine Adamson, Joanne Rose > ACMI Screen Events: Helen Simondson, Annabel Rattigan > ACMI Public Programs: Martin Mowlam, Gael McIndoe, Lisa Pieroni, Melanie Duncan ACMI Curatorial: Alessio Cavallaro,Rhys Graham, Emma Crimmings, Spiro Eonomopoulos, Meredith Lewis > ACMI Web: Carolyn Guerin, Carolyn Foster >Australian Film Television and Radio School: Megan Parker > Becker Entertainment: Matthew Soulos > BVI (Australia): Alan Finney > Celluloid Dreams: Karina Korenblum > Columbia TriStar: Loretta Mercuri > Danish Film Institute: Vibeke Clod-Svensson > Dendy Films: Janine Huan > EMI Music: Ryan Henderson > Festival Records: Irene Saunders > InDigEnt: Gary Winick, Mandy Tagger, Jacob Abraham > Lumiere Cinemas: Paul Coulter > Miramax Films: David Collins > Palace Films: Tait Brady, Tony Zrna > Pathé International: Antoine Cochet > Potential Films: Mark Spratt, Nikki White > Res Media Group: Jonathan Wells, Jeremy Boxer > Roadshow Music: John Zucco > Sony Music: Mike Aldrich > Trust Films: Anna-Karin Ström > VCA School of Film and Television: Carol Gregory > Video Unlimited NZ: Jamie MacKinnon > Annie Landenfelt > Antonia Fredman > Bill Gosden > Dan Hartney > Daniel Crooks > Dik Jarman > Freya Lombarto > Ian Haig >Jacqueline Mikhail > Karen Ansel > Michael
Frank > Nicole Fossati (Triple J) > Phillip Crawford > Rebecca Martin (Rage) > Scott Anderson > Serena Paull (Tropfest) > Sophia Zachariou (Eat Carpet) > Steve Agland > Steve O'Sullivan (Ausfest) > Tina Gonsalves.

Thursday 5 December 2002-Saturday 18 January 2003
See screenings for session times

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