Although born in New Zealand, Cecil Holmes (1921–94) is one of the most significant and ambitious filmmakers to work in Australia during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. A dedicated leftist, his work consistently demonstrated a humanist commitment to the socially disenfranchised, ranging from the underlying capitalist conditions that force decent citizens into bushranging and stealing to the social and economic conditions confronting Indigenous communities in contemporary Australia (the latter works often made in collaboration with his wife, anthropologist and activist Sandra Le Brun Holmes).
In the 1950s, Holmes briefly moved from his background in documentary to feature-film production, but all of his work shares a deep concern for social justice, place and the precarious fate of displaced and dispossessed peoples in the modern world. Although he is often regarded as a maverick director who struggled to make films, Holmes produced a wide range of challenging work for a variety of governmental, corporate and philanthropic organisations, as well as at the behest of such individuals as Australian leftist author, Frank Hardy.
Australia's longest-running film society, Melbourne Cinémathèque screens significant works of international cinema in the medium they were created, the way they would have originally screened.
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