Party scene from Silver City (1984)
Stories & Ideas

Wed 25 Jan 2023

Coming to Australia: Women Filmmakers and the migrant experience

Film Melbourne Cinémathèque Retrospective
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Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society

Notes for the 29 November 2023 Melbourne Cinémathèque program.

This program highlights the ground-breaking work undertaken by first- and second-generation migrant women directors in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Although women worked in a range of capacities in fiction, documentary and experimental cinema during this era, there were only two full feature films directed by women in Australia in the 1970s. The first of these, four years prior to Gillian Armstrong’s celebrated My Brilliant Career (1979), was The Golden Cage (1975), a drama reflecting on the Turkish migrant experience shot on 16mm by Russell Boyd and directed by filmmaker, opera singer, actor and theatre manager, Ayten Kuyululu (1930–2019).

Kuyululu migrated to Australia with her family in 1971, sang for a time in the Australian Opera, ran the Australian Turkish People’s Playhouse with her husband, and directed two uncompromising films reflecting critically on the Turkish diaspora. Kuyululu’s two films screen with Sophia Turkiewicz’s (1946–) award-winning first feature, Silver City (1984), a drama following the journey of Nina, a Polish woman who arrives in Australia in 1949, and her experience of a migrant camp on the outskirts of Sydney. Turkiewicz has made a career working in television, but has also completed three films examining the lives and experiences of Poland migrants in Australia, including her AFTRS graduating film, Letters from Poland (1978), and her extraordinary documentary Once My Mother (2013).


Coming to Australia: Women Filmmakers and the migrant experience

The Golden Cage (1975) – Wed 29 Nov, 7pm
Silver City (1984) – Wed 29 Nov, 9.10pm

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Melbourne Cinémathèque

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.

Melbourne Cinémathèque is self-administered, volunteer-run, not-for-profit and membership-driven. 

Learn more | View the 2023 program | See membership options