Amazing Amateurs: KenRa Films
Stories & Ideas

Wed 31 May 2017

ACMI author icon


Your museum of screen culture

Through home movies visit landmarks long gone, the fashion and hairstyles of yesteryear or just enjoy a glimpse of life back when

This article is part of our Amazing Amateurs series about home movies from the 1940s-60s, shot by the first generation of Australians with access to home film cameras.

We're currently digitising thousands of hours of home movies which have been donated by families of these pioneering filmmakers. The film reels contain all kinds of footage, from family holiday trips to the occasional only-known recording of important historical moments, and they provide an incredible snapshot of life in Australia in the middle of the 20th century.

Read more about process of digitisation, or check out other footage on YouTube.

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?

1940s at the local swimming pool

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.

Kenneth C. Rankine
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.

Rankine Racing Car

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.