From film weeks to festivals: Australia’s film festival boom in the 1980s

Kirsten Stevens

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper examines the rapid spread of urban film festivals in Australia from the 1980s onwards. Up to the 1980s, film festivals in Australia were limited to only a few events in the country’s capital cities. Yet, by the end of the 1990s an exponential increase in the number and diversity of events had occurred. While this rapid growth seemingly fits within existing international observations regarding the global spread of film festivals throughout this period, specific local factors, including the wider mix of film exhibition activities operating in Australia in the preceding decades, influenced how the nation’s film festivals multiplied and developed. This paper draws on significant empirical research to analyse the rapid growth of film festivals in Australia through the 1980s. In doing so, it seeks to address two goals. First, to provide more concrete evidence of the rapid global proliferation and diversification of film festivals in the 1980s through the inclusion of the Australian experience. And second, to open up a discussion around an under examined aspect the nation’s film appreciation and exhibition history, specifically that relating to film festivals and non-theatrical film exhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-263
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Australasian Cinema
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016


  • Australian cinema history
  • film culture
  • film exhibition
  • Film festivals

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