By Danni Zuvela for OtherFilm

Albie Thoms (1941-2012) led a remarkable life. Perhaps most well-known as a filmmaker and founder of the pioneering avant-garde film organisation Ubu Films (1965-1970), Thoms was also – in order of activity – a theatre director, television producer, organisation-builder, anti-censorship campaigner and general antagonist of the conservative status quo; a would-be film bureaucrat; documentary producer; and archivist (1). When a drama student at Sydney University in the early 1960s, Thoms staged ambitious multimedia productions incorporating performance, poetry and experimental film. Then, in 1965, teaming up with collaborators David Perry, Aggy Read, and John Clark, he formed Australia’s first self-consciously avant-garde film group, Ubu Films. Ubu expanded on the film experiments Thoms and Perry had begun in the Theatre of Cruelty productions, offsetting hard-core avant-garde practice with pragmatic fundraising and marketing activities. This canny approach enabled them to not only produce experimental films, but also to develop systems for their distribution, screening and appreciation.

Albie Thoms and DavidPerry, Melbourne, 1967 - back of Aggy's Landcrab

Ubu’s bootstrapping activities established a network of exhibition venues around Australia, which they supplied with international and homegrown avant-garde film programs. Thanks to their effective marketing, in the pre-revival period, Ubu events enabled thousands of people – most of whom had almost certainly never seen a non-documentary Australian film before – to be part of a dialogue about Australian cinema. Moreover, those audiences – almost certainly unfamiliar with the parallel, “hidden” history of avant-garde film – were also given a unique opportunity to imagine motion pictures differently. In the context of “felt knowledge”, Ubu’s avant-garde film screenings and multi-projector lightshows invited audiences to perceive “the movies” as abstract, non-narrative, serial; that is, as experimental.

Ubu’s “moment” – in actuality, a fertile five years of operating an effective system of production, distribution and exhibition – occurred at a time when the exiguous, subordinate state of the national film industry precluded such a system. Through the pages of the roneoed newsletter Ubunews, in other essays and in talks with screenings programs, Thoms championed freedom of expression, institutional reform and generative support for the arts in Australia. As the Australian “wing” of the international wave of contemporaneous experimental film activity, Ubu Films, with Thoms at the helm, thus reflected many of the prevailing concerns of the “underground” cinema or “New Cinema” – but also bore several important distinctions to other key organisations of this moment (2). Chief among these was a kind of radical cultural nationalism (3), promoted by Thoms, which catalysed Ubu activities and generated arguments for federal support of Australian independent filmmaking (4).

This highly visible campaigning for experimental film by Thoms and Ubu in the late 1960s was a causal factor in the political developments that led to the formation by the Australia Council for the Arts of the Experimental Film Fund in 1970 (later the Experimental Film and Television Fund). While the EFTF did support many of the filmmakers who emerged in the “Ubu period”, including Thoms himself, who made Sunshine City (see Filmography below for all “release” dates), the state funding system proved problematic (5) for avant-garde cinema, which over the course of the 20th century had developed an autonomous modality of production, distribution and exhibition outside of, and often directly constituted in opposition to the film-industrial aegis (6).

The subject of increasing critical attention, especially since the 1997 publication of Ubu Films: Sydney Underground Movies 1965-1970 (edited by Peter Mudie), Ubu, and its founder Thoms, have earned a unique place in the history of experimental film. Post-Ubu, Thoms went on to work for, and then shed ties with, the newly forged Australian Film Institute (7). Though Thoms’ output, post EFTF, did not reach the giddying heights of the Ubu era, he nonetheless produced a number of key independent film works, documentaries about Australia’s bohemian past, and the experimental-narrative feature Palm Beach. One of the most fascinating aspects of Thoms’ career trajectory is this uncommon movement between fully-fledged avant-garde impulses and more mainstream forms of film practice; though most evident in the contrast between 1980s and 1990s documentary work and the 1960s experiments, the Ubu period, with its mix of idealistic avant-gardism and focused showmanship, is when this movement began. Few other figures, anywhere in the world, have navigated extensively, consistently, or even especially successfully, between these discrete spheres of filmic practice. Considering Thoms’ output during and after the Ubu moment, it may be that, productive as it was, this was a tension that was unlikely to ever be fully resolved. His true métier, it seems, was avant-garde praxis.

As a key architect of the underground, at the juncture of radical aesthetics and politics, Albie Thoms’ work inspired countless filmmakers, artists and performers from the 1960s until his death in 2012. As an archivist and writer, his memories were collected in the memoir My Generation, launched at the celebration of his life in December 2012 (8). As an interviewee, he was unstinting in his generosity, precise in his recollections – and unflagging in his patience. Thoms offered a wealth of reflections and recollections on the unique historical moment of experimental cinema in the 1960s, both in Australia and internationally. Some of these are collected in this compilation interview (which is a revision of the original 2003 interview published in this journal), conducted on over 20 occasions over email, in Brisbane, and in person at his Sydney home, between 2002-2012.

Historically, many avant-garde film people have come to film from other arts backgrounds, “lovers of cinema” seeking communion with the international, trans-historical impulse toward “artists” film. You started in experimental theatre – can you tell us a bit about that progression?

In the experimental theatre I was interested in the use of non-literary elements to convey ideas – staging, lighting, sound, as well as the use of slide and film projection. For my production of “Revue of the Absurd” in 1963 I made the film …it droppeth as the gentle rain and for “Theatre of Cruelty” in 1965 I made Poem 25 and The Spurt of Blood. These were based on texts by Prevert, Schwitters and Artaud, all artists of the modernist avant-garde. In making these films, I was inspired by the early modernist film avant-garde, which like the early modernist theatre avant-garde, explored non-literary elements in its productions.

What’s your relationship to “story” film?

My first films were Surrealist dramas, inspired by the modernist avant-garde, and my first film for Ubu was a dramatic comedy parodying the James Bond films [Blunderball]. I was then employed to make series for television, which gave me plenty of experience in the Hollywood mode of film narrative, so I spent my spare time exploring alternative modes of filmmaking. The continuous tracking shot of Bolero was a reaction to my television work, where scenes were broken down into brief shots, with no scene lasting longer than a minute. The handmade films also were a reaction to this work, where the film always was handled by others and no trace of the filmmaker was allowed. As a result, the impulse was to promote non-narrative filmmaking, though my experience with theatre and television also led me towards exploring alternative approaches to narrative. In Marinetti I adopted the Futurist notion of minimalisation of plot and characterisation, while employing blank verse voiceover narration as part of a sound montage. I later developed this notion of narrative through sound montage in my post-Ubu films Sunshine City and Palm Beach.

It seems to me that a lot of key avant-garde concerns converged in the lightshows that were so successful for Ubu – not only were they major revenue raisers AND an important conversation with the alternative community, they were also a unique aesthetic opportunity, an avenue to continue exploration of certain theoretical concerns in the “expanded cinema” context – what are your thoughts on this?

The Ubu lightshows grew out of the happenings staged as part of “Theatre Of Cruelty”. In one of those we projected a film over an actor being disrobed as he recited a poem. The interface between moving actor and moving film image was fascinating, and recurred when we projected films over rock bands. Then the bands began reacting to the films, resulting in improvisations between musicians and lighting operators, and soon we were making films expressly for such performances, scratching and hand-colouring black leader and painting onto clear leader. Eventually they were projected on the audience as well as the musicians, creating a mass performance (in one case with 4000 people) in which cinema had expanded to fill the room.

Albie Thoms directing a Theatre of Cruelty rehearsal, University of Sydney, 1965

The enthusiasm of those audiences suggests a different picture of Australia than the conservative, monocultural one often painted – from your experiences, how would you describe the Australian counterculture?

The failure of the traditional Left to effectively challenge conservative control led to the emergence of a counterculture aimed at achieving this end. It manifested itself in experimental theatre, folk songs, the surfing subculture, Oz magazine, rock music and underground movies, all appealing to young people, who formed its audience. It gained momentum from opposition to censorship and the Vietnam War, and began asserting itself in feminism and Aboriginal and gay rights, eventually becoming a mass movement for a brief period at the beginning of the 1970s.

[Peter] Mudie says that it is the unique emphasis on handmade films and the underlying ideology of direct participation that distinguishes the Ubu group from contemporaneous film co-operatives around the world, which may have operated in more exclusionist contexts. What can you tell us about the impulses behind Ubu’s championing of handmade films?

Handmade films were attractive for a number of reasons. Most significantly, they were cheap at a time when filmmaking was very expensive, and they were avenues for abstract expressionism when filmmaking was dominated by figuration and linear narrative. Additionally, they involved the physical handling of the film material, working on the thing that was projected, a direct intervention in the filmmaking process. But it was their use in lightshows that expanded their possibilities: projected onto moving surfaces and accompanied by live music, they became vehicles for expression of the spirit of the time.

Can you describe that spirit?

It was a determined demand for change on all fronts. This meant breaking down the rules of what was correct in society and asserting new values. Handmade films broke all the rules of what was correct in filmmaking, and captured the angst, the agitation, and the openness that was at the essence of the counterculture.

How difficult was it to make films in the 1960s in Sydney? How available was stock and processing facilities? Other underground film communities experienced, at times, laboratories acting as censors – how was your relationship to the laboratories?

Because of the television industry in Sydney, which used a lot of film at that time, there was no shortage of equipment or laboratory facilities. But they were expensive, as was film stock, and so we adopted cheap filmmaking methods, such as using out-dated stock, shooting mute and adding sound later, or not using cameras at all. The laboratory that printed my first film reported it to the police, but thereafter we found a friendly lab that not only looked after our work, but extended credit, so we could make the films, screen them, and then pay the bills from the proceeds.

Particularly with the lightshows, Ubu engineered some remarkable cross-fertilisations between artists, filmmakers, performers and audiences. However, the late ’60s/early ’70s intermedia climate sometimes produced tensions in avant-garde film circles, between those concerned with medium specificity (the avant-garde as a legitimate branch of cinema) and those interested in film as “just one” of the many tools available to the artist. Were there any such tensions in the Australian scene?

AT: There were tensions between those who saw lightshows as an extension of filmmaking, as an art form in its own right, and as an element of rock music performances. I opted for the integration of art and lifestyle, joining the multimedia manifestation that was the Yellow House in Sydney. But this was too hard to sustain and I retreated to a more manageable program of alternative filmmaking as part of the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op.

Most filmic avant-gardes are constituted with some degree of opposition to Hollywood, or industrial, especially narrative, modes of screen practice. But there are inter-avant-garde relations, too. Brian Frye has suggested that the British avant-garde has a “bizarrely Oedipal” relationship to the American “parent” avant-garde. Given Australia’s position of dual cultural colonisation, what do you make of the relationship between Australian avant-gardes in relation to the “dominant” experimental cinemas of the US and Britain?

Initially we were inspired by the historical European avant-garde, but the emergence of an international film avant-garde gave us confidence to continue our work. When it was screened and accepted internationally, we were able to weather the opposition of those in Australia promoting Hollywood cinema and engage in a dialogue with those in other countries doing similar work – the international underground of the time.

So there was more of a sense of fraternity with international avant-gardes in the face of the dominant industrial discourse here in Australia?

The selection of our films for international festivals confirmed their worth at a time when they were dismissed by local critics and those in the film industry. And when they gained distribution through foreign film co-ops, they became part of an international movement for social change. It helped overcome the sense of isolation and inferiority that then prevailed in Australia.

Aggy Read visited the US and returned with the comment that there was more equipment at the UCLA film department than in the whole of Australia – what kind of observations did you make about the Australian underground in comparison to those in the US or Europe?

In the USA, underground filmmaking was part of a massive movement for social change, while in Europe it was less developed and tended to exist on the fringe of the art industry. In Australia, with its film industry so undeveloped and the need for social change so urgent, we were able to make considerable impact. And when I toured Europe with Marinetti, I was able to help groups there with advice, derived from my Australian experience, on how to make greater impact with their films.

Ubu initiated a number of travelling screening programs to other cities, and you had the Cantrills making films in Canberra, and some work being done in Melbourne – how fair are the criticisms that the ’60s underground was Sydney-centric?

When we began distributing films in 1966 we were prepared to take any that [were] offered to us, calling our operation the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op, because that’s where it was located. Soon we were distributing films from most Australian states as well as foreign films, and organising exhibitions of them throughout Australia. In so far as a majority of the filmmakers came from Sydney, and Sydney provided the biggest audiences, it was Sydney-centric, but not by intent, or from any notion of superiority.

Writing about the formation of the LFMC [London Film-makers Co-op], David Curtis says the model the British tried to emulate was that of New York Filmmakers Co-operative – was that the case here as well, or were there other impulses in play?

The LFMC was inspired by the New York Filmmakers Co-operative, and benefited from being given a collection of films from that co-op. Ours grew more spontaneously, to fill a gap resulting from the undeveloped nature of our film industry and the urgency of the need for social change. We later developed a relationship with the Canyon Cinema Co-op in San Francisco because its filmmakers seemed more in tune with what was happening in Australia.

Ubu played a role in the development of an arts funding body, agitating, often in personal meetings, for greater support for the arts in general, and exploration of film in particular. Yet once the Australia Council for the Arts, and the EFTF were set up, somehow it didn’t seem to materialise into the kind of support for filmmakers that Ubu, at least, had envisaged. Is there a degree of irony in the fact that so much production was enabled by Ubu, yet once an institutional or bureaucratic structure emerged, many struggled to get funding?

The “market” established by Ubu was destroyed by government intervention, which favoured very different films and “flooded” the market with inferior work. Instead of co-operation, competitions were used to select films worthy of distribution and filmmakers worthy of further funding. The types of films encouraged by Ubu were marginalised as the Hollywood mode was promoted.

So you would pinpoint an institutional or policy failure – at a time when government bodies in the US and Europe were providing support for production, screenings and exhibitions of experimental film, the Australian government dropped the ball? This seems like such a shame when you consider the remarkable audiences (the alternative “market”) that Ubu built up.

The determination to revive the film industry in Australia meant that the non-industrial, artisan, art-oriented approach advocated by Ubu had to be squashed. At first this resulted in the marginalisation of alternative filmmaking, with funding clearly demarking commercial entertainment for profit from film art, with the majority of funding going to the former. But when this was seen to be unprofitable, the rationale for support of film art was appropriated by the industry, and it grabbed all the funds.

Ubu’s dissolution is seen as located either when you toured Marinetti overseas or when you moved back to Sydney, into the Yellow House in 1970, and the group fragmented. What happened to experimental filmmaking in Australia after that?

The Sydney Filmmakers Co-op was constituted as a separate legal entity in 1969 and took over the distribution and exhibition activities of Ubu. But it took a while to establish itself, and was denied government funding in this important period, when it took on responsibility for many of the new films and filmmakers resulting from government subsidy. As a consequence, experimental film was squeezed to the margins, despite the efforts of the Cantrills and others to maintain it as a significant filmmaking activity. As more and more money was made available for Hollywood-type filmmaking, experimental film was pushed to the background and almost disappeared.

You’ve had plenty of firsthand experiences with the censors – many of the films produced or distributed by Ubu, such as Aggy Read’s Boobs a Lot (1968), your own Rita and Dundi, and David Perry’s A Sketch on Abigayl’s Belly (1968), were banned for long periods. What do you make of the censorship controversy over Ken Park (Larry Clark and Edward Lachman, 2002) at the Sydney Film Festival?

I am opposed to all censorship. Australian film festivals have supported the government film censorship apparatus, while enjoying privileged exemption. Instead of complaining about being unable to show this film, complain instead about a system that can deny films to the wider Australian audience.

Looking over the body of Australian avant-garde or experimental works, do you think a national character can be identified? Is there anything uniquely or distinctly Australian about Australian experimental cinema?

The Australian experimental cinema of the ’60s and ’70s certainly was different from that of other countries. Much of this was due to our different circumstances, but whether it could be construed as reflecting a distinctly “national” characteristic is uncertain. There certainly was an energy and a wide-ranging openness in our films that was not to be found elsewhere, reflecting the Australian counterculture of the time, but it would be difficult to define this as a “national” characteristic, especially in the light of subsequent developments.

Tell me about your time with the Dutch Film Co-op.

I spent several months in the early 1970s with the Electric Cinema collective, helping to set up the Co-op there. The Dutch Filmmakers Co-op was part of STOFF [Studio ter Ontwikkeling van Film and Filmmanifestaties]. We stripped away the seating and set up mattresses on the floor to create a responsive atmosphere where we could have screenings and Happenings; I also helped set up the Youth Film Circuit there. It was an anti-establishment thing, about communal spirit.

You also helped them get access to film gear, didn’t you?

Yes, well, the costs of getting hold of film cameras was absolutely prohibitive. The Co-op would send me over to Paris, to the Beaulieu factory, where I would buy cameras for them, to avoid the outrageous Dutch import duties. The cinematographer Robbie Müller, later known for his work with Wim Wenders, accompanied me, and he tested the camera before I took possession of it, and I carried it through customs without any fuss. I rather enjoyed doing this “smuggling” activity.

There’s a real resurgence in the film medium today, in its industrial twilight – independent, artist-run film laboratories are seeing new generations of artists pick up film cameras and disappear into darkrooms to come up with new work that’s completely unlike anything that can be created with more normative digital means. Film can be so fickle and is so alchemical – you never know for 100% what you’re going to get – but that seems to be part of the appeal.

It seems great to me that young people are rediscovering film and that they’re embracing its chance operations. Of course, the “professional” film industry loathes those “mistakes”, which is why digital has taken over so completely. Incorporating mistakes is a way of improvising, like jazz musicians do, and formally embedding that in the final work is making a statement. For experimental filmmakers, the “accidents” are as beautiful and valuable as the things you do deliberately, if not more so. 

There’s a whole generation of creatives now discovering the joys of bathtub processing.

I remember when we hosted the Italian experimental group Co-operative Cinema Independente – they used to process at home, in bathtubs and in buckets, using homemade printers. They were so poor they shot on scraps and expired film stock. Their films were rough as guts! But they had an amazing energy.

That was in 1972? Can you tell me about how your work with the Co-operative Cinema Independente eventuated? 

Ubu itself had no contact with the Co-operative Cinema Independente. However, I made contact with Alfredo Leonardi in 1970 when I was in Europe screening Marinetti and he invited me to screen it at Filmstudio 70 in Rome. There I met a number of Italian filmmakers, but didn’t see any of their films. Later that year I helped organise screenings of the work of Alfredo and other Italians at the International Underground Film Festival in London. I was impressed by their poetic use of film and thought that their films should be seen in Australia, with the result that I arranged for Alfredo to screen a program of New Italian Cinema in Australia in 1972. At the last minute, Alfredo was unable to come, and sent Pier Farri with the films.

Albie Thoms at the First Underground Film Festival, London, 1970

Tell me about Pier Farri.

Pier had been a member of the leading Italian rock group Equipe 84, and had also toured with the Living Theatre, and had his first film, Avant-garde Prayer, in the program.

I’d like to discuss the Living Theatre aspect a little more – Alfredo Leonardi, whose films showed at the New Italian Cinema program in 1972, was also well-known in Europe and the United States, and toured with the Living Theatre production of Paradise Now. I know that your interest in experimental film stemmed at least partly from your involvement with drama, and there’s a key connection with the Living Theatre in the form of Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. Can you talk to me about Living Theatre – were you aware of them when you first became involved with experimental theatre in the early 1960s? Are there any other connections we can draw out? (The 1969 Ubu screenings of [Jonas] Mekas’ documentation of the Living Theatre production, The Brig [1963], seem important here).

I became aware of the Living Theatre in 1960 when I read about them in Evergreen Review, and thereafter followed their exploits as reported in that magazine and others, such as the Tulane Theatre Review. As a result, I acquired a copy of Jack Gelber’s play The Connection, which they had successfully staged, and thought about directing it as my first production for Sydney University Dramatic Society. However, I became more interested in staging Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, which I did with some success. The rest is history, as they say. Jarry was, of course, a prime influence on the Futurists, Dadaists and Surrealists, and I later explored these connections in a number of stage productions and films. One of the people profoundly influenced by Jarry was the Surrealist, Antonin Artaud, who established the Theatre Alfred Jarry in Paris and wrote a book of Jarry-influenced theatre theory, The Theatre and its Double. This work formed a basis for my theatre practice and later film practice, and I celebrated Artaud in the stage production, Theatre of Cruelty (1965), and the film The Spurt of Blood, made for that production. A number of people involved in that production then joined with me to establish Ubu Films. Meanwhile, I continued to follow the exploits of the Living Theatre, and was aware of their Artaud-inspired productions. Earlier, I had followed their defiant staging of Kenneth H. Brown’s play The Brig, and Jonas Mekas’ filming of one of its illegal performances, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. When Aggy Read showed our films to Jonas in New York in 1968, he offered Ubu a copy of The Brig for us to distribute in Australia, which Aggy readily accepted. However, the print he sent was in 35mm, resulting in us having to pay large freight and Customs duty bills, which severely affected our finances. We arranged a season of the film at the Greek Theatre in Sydney, in order to recoup our costs, but it was not a success, and it further impinged on our fragile financial position. For the season at the Greek Theatre I designed a prelude to the film, which involved a light flashing and a boson’s bell ringing, while we played a recording of an actor reading the US Marine Brig Regulations. This was another example of Ubu expanding cinema, as we had done with our lightshows with rock bands, with Jarry and Artaud always as our guides. At that time I was making my film, Marinetti, which applied some of the ideas of the Futurist F. T. Marinetti, who had known Jarry and had written a play inspired by him.
 
The Ubu period was, temporally and in terms of the prevailing discourse, a “classic” underground epoch. Today many uses or models of “experimental” as a label abound; the sense of a scientific/pseudo scientific spirit of inquiry; as a laboratory for industry, developing not just ideas or techniques but future talent; as an artistic mode of self-expression, inherently opposed to commodification; as a community of media makers united in their marginality to dominant modes of representation. What’s your take on the uses and circulation of “experimental”?

When the term “experimental” was first applied to filmmaking early in the 20th century, the art form was developing and people experimented with its possibilities. These included many associated with the modernist avant-garde, who worked in a variety of media. So an “avant-garde” filmmaking tradition began. Later people in this tradition worked outside the mainstream in what became known as the “underground”, which for a while formed a genuine international community of ideas. But since then the notions of “experiment”, “avant-garde” and “underground” have been distorted beyond recognition, and I am cautious about using them outside their historical context.

In your writings, you refer to yourself and others in the independent film tradition as a “filmer” – rather than a “filmmaker”, for example. I notice that other seminal avant-garde figures such as Mekas, seem to prefer this phrase too; can you explain the significance of the term to film avant-gardes?

I like the term “filmmaker”, as opposed to the “producers”, “directors”, etc. of the film industry. At a time when the government began asserting Hollywood notions to cover all filmmaking practice, the term “filmer” seemed useful, paralleling as it does the term “painter”, and suggesting a similar role. I used it a lot in my writings to stress the creative possibilities open to the “filmer”.

You know, when OtherFilm held our first festival in 2004, we showed your handmade films, and held a handmade film workshop (though we couldn’t get a hold of an angle grinder to scratch the film as Ubu used to!). Now we’re up to our fourth festival and are showing a bunch of contemporary avant-garde films and having expanded cinema events. We’re having our opening night celebrations on the deck of the HMAS Diamantina, a historic warship and there’ll be projections and mayhem all around. I wish you could come.

That sounds brilliant. I wish I could too. I’m working on finishing my memoirs though. I’m really glad to hear there’s so much energy for experimental work and a whole new generation getting turned on to it. You guys are doing a great job of that. Good luck with the festival – knock ’em out!

Endnotes

  1. See Graham Shirley, “Vale Albie Thoms”, National Film and Sound Archive, 17 December 2012: http://nfsa.gov.au/blog/2012/12/17/albie-thoms/.
  2. In contrast to other national film avant-garde groups, such as the London Filmmakers Co-op, which was constituted “without a central person or figurehead”. See Stephen Dwoskin, “Film Is…The International Free Cinema”, The British Avant-Garde Film, 1926-­1995: An Anthology of Writings, ed. Michael O’Pray, University of Luton Press, Luton, 1996.
  3. Barrett Hodsdon sees Thoms’ nationalism as discrepant in the context of the avant-garde’s internationalist “pure film” project. See Hodsdon, Straight Roads and Crossed Lines: The Quest for Film Culture in Australia from the 1960s, Bernt Porridge Group, Shenton Park, 2001, pp. 106-8.
  4. Like Mekas, Thoms operated as a nodal point for a national avant-garde. However, compared to the godfather of the New American Cinema, who famously polemicised against the imposition of funding (“Let our art be free of all sponsorship”), Thoms’ polemics were distinctly pragmatic from the outset.
  5. “We need a constant flow of short experimental films which, as well as allowing young film-makers to spread their wings, will broaden the vocabulary of the medium and pinpoint those individuals with a high level of creative potential.” Report from the Film and Television Committee of the Australia Council for the Arts, May 1969, quoted in Ina Bertrand and Diane Collins, Government and Film in Australia, Currency Press and AFI, Sydney, 1981.
  6. Albie Thoms, “The Australian Cinema: 1971” and “Ten Years of The Sydney Filmmakers Co-op Part One and Part Two”, Polemics for a New Cinema: Writings to Stimulate New Approaches to Film, Wild and Woolley, Sydney, 1978, pp. 310-11 and 346-405.
  7. See Lisa French and Mark Poole, “Passionate Amateurs: The Experimental Film and Television Fund and Modernist Film Practice in Australia”, Studies in Australasian Cinema vol. 5, no. 2, 2011, pp. 171-183.
  8. Albie Thoms, My Generation, Media21 Publishing, The Rocks, NSW.

Albie Thoms Filmography:

…it droppeth as the gentle rain (1963)
The Spurt of Blood (1965)
Poem 25 (1965)
Blunderball (1966)
Man and His World (1966)
Rita and Dundi (1966)
The Film (1966; co-director)
Showdown (1967)
Bluto (1967)
In Key (1967)
Moon Virility (1967)
The Second Bardo (1967)
Tribute to America (1967)
Bolero (1967)
A Tripartite Adventure in Redfern (1968)
David Perry (1968)
Hair (1969)
Marinetti (1969)
Sunshine City (1973)
Palm Beach (1980)
Surfmovies (1981)
Polygenesis (1990)
Gulag (1999)

Thoms also directed numerous documentaries for television, including New Australian Cinema, JOK – The Wild One, From Neck-to-Knee to Nude, The Bradman Era, Bohemians in the Bush, Akai Ghost Poems, and The King of Belle-Ile; and wrote and/or directed episodes and sections of the TV series Nice ‘n’ Juicy, Australian Playhouse, Contrabandits, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Rock Around the World, Fusions, The Australian Image, The Big Smoke, Revolt in Paradise and Snowy.

About The Author

Otherfilm is a collective based in Brisbane, Australia, dedicated to avant-garde, experimental, abstract, expanded and other film. This dedication is expressed through screening programs, performance events, exhibitions, workshops, articles, research, discussions and arguments.