I’m proud to announce that I’ll be back at the Menzies Australia Institute at King’s College London this academic year, as curator and presenter of the second Menzies Screening Series.
Following on from our 2017/18 series, which sought to position filmic visions of Australia within a transnational context, this year’s Menzies Screening Series focuses on cinema’s role in perpetuating and solidifying settler colonial regimes, not only in Australia, but also in the fellow ‘White Dominions’ of Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand.
Against of the backdrop of mounting decolonisation, a number of post-war productions by London-based companies highlighted British attitudes towards the life of its settler colonies. Over the course of the year, we will screen three such films – set at various historical moments in the lives of these ‘new nations’ – which hold up settler colonial spaces as not only the last bastion of ‘Britishness’ in the former Empire, but also as figureheads for the newly reconfigured Commonwealth of Nations.
These three British productions will be accompanied by three ‘local’ productions, which emerged from the various national contexts in the 1960s ,‘70s, and ‘80s. Each of these films was created at a time when the former colonies began to assert their own sense of cultural nationalism, one that was often built upon the figure of the white male and the pioneering family. In doing so, they help to demonstrate how settler nationhood persists largely as a continuation of British colonial visions of the ideal (aka ‘white’) nation.
On one level, this group of films depicts discrete settler colonial spaces from varying imperial and national contexts. By placing them in direct dialogue, however, this series aims to offer a closer examination of the subtle dynamics that underpin nations with a shared heritage, but entirely divergent histories of expansion, engagement, and exploitation.
The 2018/19 series will be organised according to settler colonial space, and alternate between British and ‘local’ productions. We begin in Australia, with Ealing Studios’ first contact narrative Bitter Springs (Ralph Smart, 1950) on 13 November 2018, followed by iconic New Wave film Sunday Too Far Away (Ken Hannam, 1975) on 4 December 2018. From there, the focus will shift to Canada, with a screening of Rocky Mountains frontier drama Campbell’s Kingdom (Ralph Thomas, 1957) on 5 February 2019, and the first fiction feature by the Canadian National Film Board, The Drylanders (Don Haldane, 1963) on 5 March 2019. Our series concludes with a focus on Aotearoa New Zealand, with colonial adventure film The Seekers (Ken Annakin, 1954) on 2 April 2019, before the stark vision of Te Kooti’s War offered in Utu (Geoff Murphy, 1984) on 7 May 2019 rounds out the series.
All screenings will be held at King’s College London, and will begin with a short contextual introduction by myself, followed by the film and an open group discussion. These screenings are free, and open to all, but advance booking is necessary. Also, whilst you must register for individual screenings, we would also encourage attendees to attend the entire screening series, where possible, in order to fully engage with the material under discussion and gain a good understanding of the transnational contexts under discussion. After the final screening, we hope to round the series out with a panel discussion and drinks reception, with speakers still to be confirmed.
I look forward to welcoming you to the 2018/19 Menzies Screening Series.