From the beginning of the twentieth century, Sydney defined cosmopolitanism and modernity in the national imagination, and central to this image was the cinema: its technology, its architecture, its stars, its marketing and the stories it circulated to its audiences about Australia and the world. Though it is difficult to define a genre of Sydney film, Sydney provided the backdrop for a host of ideas about the city, and later suburbia. Sydney came to be seen as a ‘tinsel town’ of cultural bankruptcy and hedonism. But distinctive stories about the city itself are rare, except perhaps in the 1930s and 1940s films made by the Commonwealth government for marketing the nation. Migrant film emerged as an important category of cinema from the 1970s, making Sydney central to the understanding and construction of Australian multiculturalism. This essay explores the historic beginnings of cinema in Sydney, the experience of going to the pictures, and a broad spectrum of films. We also examine the role Sydney has played in the production and exhibition of cinema nationally and internationally.
Film; Media; Movies; Cinema; Film festivals;