Tom Zubrycki

Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI

The Seeds of Change: The Documentaries of Tom Zubrycki

Film program


Wed 4 Dec – Wed 11 Dec 2024

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Tom Zubrycki (1946–) is one of the key Australian filmmakers of the last 50 years, his documentaries – as director and producer – reflecting the shifting political, social and cultural landscape while remaining committed to social justice, human rights and the ethics of filmmaking. The son of Jerzy Zubrycki, an academic and one of the chief architects of the policy of multiculturalism, he began working in video in the 1970s, taking advantage of the access programs set up by the Whitlam government, documenting social protest, strikes, resident-led action groups and “green bans” in Sydney in videos like Fig St Fiasco (1974). Searching for a wider audience for his activist work, Zubrycki shifted to 16mm production for his extraordinary pair of films documenting bitter industrial disputes: Kemira – Diary of a Strike (1984) and Friends & Enemies (1987). His subsequent work has continued this focus on social justice and empowerment but has further developed an emphasis on narrative and character. After completing two fascinating films in Broome – Lord of the Bush (1990) and Bran Nue Dae (1991), the latter focusing on the play’s author Jimmy Chi – Zubrycki’s work began to focus on one of the great injustices of contemporary Australia, the fate and treatment of refugees. This emphasis first fully emerged in the Melbourne-set Homelands (1994) but continued through such landmark films as Molly & Mobarak (2003). Zubrycki’s work has also increasingly balanced local concerns with regional issues and themes in films like The Diplomat (2000), his extraordinary documentary following the last year of José Ramos-Horta’s 24-year campaign for East Timorese independence. Still very active, Zubrycki co-directed Senses of Cinema with John Hughes in 2022 and has recently produced Tiriki Onus and Alex Morgan’s Ablaze (2021) and Jeni Thornley’s Memory Film: A Filmmaker’s Diary (2023).

Program to be introduced by the filmmaker.


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Films in this program (Wed 4 Dec – Wed 11 Dec 2024)

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About 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.

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