Central Goldfields Art Gallery is proud to announce War Pictures: Australians at the Cinema 1914-1918, an exhibition created by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in association with the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), will show at the Gallery from 31 March until 6 May 2018.

The exhibition will be officially opened by Central Goldfields Shire CEO Lucy Roffey on Saturday 31 March at 2pm and residents are invited to attend.

Visitors will discover what Australians saw when they went to the cinema during the First World War as the gallery is transformed into a picture palace showing fascinating shorts, advertisements, newsreels, propaganda and feature films produced locally and internationally during the War.

A 63-minute screening program of war and non-war related material incorporates an assortment of film excerpts shown in Australia between 1914 and 1918. Music and audio atmosphere tracks have been carefully composed and selected to transport audiences to the cinema-going experience of the early 20th century.

One in three Australian men between the ages of 18 and 45 enlisted to fight, so people on the home front felt deeply connected to seeing images of the War. On any given Saturday night in Melbourne 100 years ago, 65,000 people were attending the cinema. Tickets were cheap and programs varied – from Australian and international features, to short comedies, drama serials, ‘scenics’ (or travelogues), ‘industrials’ (documentaries about manufacturing) and ‘war pictures’, which were newsreel and information films about the activities of troops and the progress of the War.

When the War began, Australian filmmakers rushed to align themselves with the government, creating dramas specifically aimed at increasing recruitment, such as Alfred Rolfe’s The Hero of the Dardanelles (1915), which tells the story of Gallipoli and features the iconic Anzac Cove landing scene shot at Sydney’s Tamarama Beach. As the years passed and more lives were lost, war-weary audiences grew sceptical of cinema propaganda and a new genre of home-grown comedies emerged.

For Russell Briggs, ACMI’s Director of Exhibitions and Collections, War Pictures offers a glimpse into how Australians lived a century ago, using the popular films of the day as its focal point.

“We wanted to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War by recreating the ambience of everyday life during wartime. With their friends and family fighting half a world away, people back home had a personal stake in seeing depictions of the War on screen, but they were also looking to Hollywood and the young Australian movie business for entertainment and escape. War Pictures takes you to a cinema palace during these turbulent years and gives you a real taste of what it was like to live in Australia during the Great War,” said Briggs.

The exhibition has been produced with the generous support of NFSA. Michael Loebenstein, NFSA’s CEO said: “The idea behind War Pictures was to use the power of the moving image to help contemporary audiences understand what life was like in Australia during the First World War – from the hardships of real life to the escapist fantasies of the big screen. We’re proud to see this exhibition reach new audiences in the Central Goldfields region.”

To complement the exhibition school holiday art workshops for 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 year olds will be held on Wednesdays 4 and 11 April.  As part of the workshops children will have the opportunity to explore the exhibition and create their own art to take home.

Central Goldfields Art Gallery is located at the Old Fire Station, Neill Street, Maryborough and is open Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

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