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Amazing amateurs: KenRa Films

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Kenneth C. Rankine Home Movie Collection

Films aren’t just for entertainment – they can document experiences, transport us to other worlds or act as windows into the past. The home movie collection of amateur filmmaker Kenneth Carruthers Rankine (1890–1968) is all three.

Did you know that there was an outdoor Olympic pool across the train tracks from where Fed Square now sits in the 40s? How about the high-octane car race the Templestowe Hill Climb, which snaked through 960 metres of outer suburb scrub?

people poolside at a swimming pool in bathers and swimming caps on women c.a. 1941 melbourne

Thanks to Kenneth’s granddaughter, who donated his films to our collection in August 2016, we can peer back into Melbourne’s past, sharing everyday and extraordinary experiences.

Sepia image of a business man on the phone seated at a desk.

Filmmaker Kenneth C. Rankine (Image: Courtesy of Karen Wootton)

Comprising 38 cans of silent, colour 16mm films, Kenneth’s collection portrays gardens, regional and interstate holidays, beauty pageants, shipping ports, water skiing and royal visits, many of the films introduced by his custom-made title, “KenRa Films Present”. No surprise for a celluloid enthusiast who had a movie studio behind his Caulfield home.

A red vintage sports can with male driver circa 1950s

Kenneth even came third in a Western Australian amateur film competition for Every Many Should Have A Hobby, a fictional narrative of a man pursuing his secret filmmaking passion. The film is currently undergoing conservation treatment due to acetate deterioration, but we’re hoping to get it digitised like the wonderful home movies below.  

Melbourne c.a. 1944
Olympic Pool Melbourne 1943
Sydney Harbour and Port Phillip Bay c.a. 1940/41
Our Wedding c.a. 1947
Templestowe Hill Climb 1957/59
The Blue Dandenongs c.a. 1953