Lilias Fraser was a ground-breaking Australian cinematographer and director active from the 1950s to 1990s. Working at a time when women faced immense barriers to participation in the film industry, Fraser was one of a literal handful of Australian women active as directors in the 1960s and 1970s.
Fraser made her first film The Beach (shot single-handedly on the beaches of Queensland) in 1957 and went on to claim a directorial role at the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit in the early 1960s – despite the organisation's view of her capacity as limited by her gender and the discriminatory workplace practices she endured.
After spending time overseas and becoming the first Australian to study at the National Film School of France, Fraser returned to Australia and, with her husband Norman Castle, established an independent film production company. Fraser Castle Productions was responsible for numerous documentaries in the 1960s and 1970s – directed and photographed by Fraser – that focused mainly on Australian agricultural and industrial development, including a significant number about various Australian mining industries. By the close of the 1960s Fraser had made over 15 documentaries, including one of Australia’s first land rights films, This is Their Land (at the request of Faith Bandler).
In the late 1970s Fraser worked with the Sydney Filmmaker’s Co-operative and connected with a new wave of feminist filmmakers then emerging in Australia, including Martha Ansara, Pat Fiske and Jeni Thornley. Her 1990 film Women of the Iron Frontier re-used her vast experience of filming mines and miners to offer a new critique of the industry through exploring the lived experience of women in mining communities.
Works by Lilias Fraser in ACMI's Collection
Please note: this archive is an ongoing body of work. Sometimes the credit information (director, year etc) isn’t available so these fields may be left blank; we are progressively filling these in with further research.