Australian filmmakers are pretty commonplace on global red carpet events these days. With more than 400 local directors, writers and producers currently working on feature-length films, their works are internationally recognisable and highly regarded.
However, it wasn’t always like this. For every Peter Weir, Gillian Armstrong or George Miller, there are scores of other directors, actors and films that left their cinematic mark – often with much lower budgets and focusing on more niche genres. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Australian New Wave – a cinematic movement that helped first truly globalise the local film industry with a slew of cult films.
By way of background, New Wave was a cinematic movement which began in 1971 when the Australian government began a program to revive the local film industry. The moniker “New Wave” was coined by noted Australian film critic David Stratton, denoting films from the 1970s often viewed as having a “straight-ahead narrative style” and distinctly Antipodean setting. These productions still have enormous appeal on local screens.
Classic cinema is more important than ever for the local entertainment industry. A recent survey by Tubi of more than 2,000 Australian viewers found that classic films are increasingly popular amongst younger audiences, as well as being highly sought after by audiences on modern streaming platforms.
The survey found that more than half (53%) of streaming service viewers looking for more nostalgic content were aged under 40 years old – including 15% of the total audience being aged under 23 years old. Interestingly it also found that those that favoured classic content tended to watch around 25% more content than the average viewer, and were more likely to watch with friends and family.
As we approach the 50th anniversary milestone it’s a great time to dig into some of these films. Here are 5 important, but less known, Australian New Wave films that you can watch on Tubi today…
Patrick (1978, Australia) – https://tubitv.com/movies/514372/patrick
Patrick was one of the country’s first internationally-recognised science fiction films. It is also notable for helping popularise Ozploitation – a New Wave sub genre of independent films that were extremely popular in other countries. Quentin Tarantino is a fan and borrowed from the film for a scene in Kill Bill, where the bride is in her coma and spits on the orderly, mimicking a similar scene in Patrick.
Snapshot (1979, Australia) – https://tubitv.com/movies/514364/snapshot
An Australian thriller featuring Sigrid Thornton, Snapshot (aka The Day After Halloween) typified a lot of the Australian New Wave products of the 1970s – low budget, highly genre specific and typically doing better overseas than locally. Snapshot was generally panned in Australia – it’s cinematic run in Melbourne was less than a week – but it was embraced overseas, even receiving multiple reissues on DVD and BluRay throughout the 1990s and 2000s
Sleeping Dogs (1977, NZ/Aus) – https://tubitv.com/movies/475408/sleeping-dogs
The rise of Australian New Wave was also keenly felt on the other side of the Tasman in the mid-1970s, such as the iconic Sleeping Dogs. It was the first NZ movie to receive widespread cinematic distribution in the United States. Sleeping Dogs was directed by Australian-born Roger Donaldson and starred Sam Neil in this Kiwi-made movie. Donaldson would cut his teeth in smaller productions across both sides of the Tasman before going on to later direct the likes of Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan and Anthony Hopkins.
Inn of the Damned (1978, Australia/US) – https://tubitv.com/movies/498096/inn-of-the-damned
Terry Bourke is one of the great all-time Australian cult horror directors and this 1970s film was rated as one of the country’s best ever horror movies by the local National Film and Sound Archive. Amongst cult horror fans, Inn of the Damned is considered one of his finest, and certainly not one for the kids.
Dot and the Kangaroo (1977, Australia) – https://tubitv.com/movies/490050/dot-and-the-kangaroo
Dot and the Kangaroo was an iconic Australian children’s book which was turned into a cartoon movie from the 1970s. It was notable because it was then the largest animated feature made in Australia and was later distributed overseas.
More great cinema can be found on Tubi, an ad-supported streaming service with a huge selection of movies and TV shows all available completely free.