Lilias Fraser: a remarkable pioneer of Australian film who overcame enormous personal challenges to make over forty films at a time when most women were still in the kitchen.
Her younger daughter, Jane Castle, also a filmmaker, tells Lilias’s story in a moving and poetic meditation, using the rich textures of an unseen part of Australia’s cinematic history and her own highly personal cinematography. This is a poignant insider’s view of an unheralded Australian pioneer.
Lilias’s trailblazing career begins in 1957 with her first film, shot single-handedly on the shores of Moreton Bay. Her films are infused with an upbeat optimism as she seeks to ‘uplift’ people through her art. While juggling her household and her career, she becomes a leader in Australia's nation-building film industry of the 60s and 70s and makes one of Australia's first land rights films, This is Their Land.
By the 1980s, unbeknownst to Lilias, she’s become a feminist role model. She revisits the mining towns of her industrial documentaries and looks afresh at the women who struggle to survive in them, in Women of the Iron Frontier. In some way they mirror her own struggles. Meanwhile, her daughter has picked up a camera and become a cinematographer. She takes up where Lilias left off.
For philanthropic organisations with a focus on families, relationships, mother-daughter issues, grief and loss, and recovery through storytelling this project will provide a stimulating, in-depth resource. It will offer a vital educational tool for organisations focused on feminism, Australia’s cultural history, filmmaking, creativity and the arts. Lilias Fraser is virtually unheard of in Australia. This film will establish her place as a significant figure in this country's cinematic history. The intimate story provides an insider’s view of the emotional reality of issues affecting many women and families.
Six 5 to 10 minute webisodes will be created on themes that emerge out of the research and the making of the film. The TV and feature-length documentary will be accompanied by additional on-line resources such as full length interviews with the filmmaker and Lilias Fraser’s peers; clips of her films and a study guide. We envisage these elements being used by organisations providing education and support around families, cultural history and feminism.
Aims & Objectives
We would like this film to establish Lilias Fraser as a significant figure in Australian history. A measure of success will be the entry of Lilias Fraser’s story into Australia’s cultural memory, initially through film and feminism syllabuses. We would like to distribute this film and it’s linked web resources to a wide range of organisations dealing with women's issues.
A measure of its impact would be its wide distribution and use. In the area of film studies, we would like the film to encourage the interrogation of the power of the image and how media practitioners can create vastly different perspectives depending on who’s behind the camera. In a world awash with image and imitation, we hope to encourage a focus on direct and authentic experience through the camera. A measure of its impact will be the adoption of the film, its study guide and its linked web resources as key resources by media and communication institutions.
We will create 5-10 minute webisodes featuring the filmmaker and Lilias Fraser’s peers on topics such as: ‘Breaking into Male Dominated Fields’; ‘Mothers and Daughters’; ‘Using Creativity to Process Grief’; and ‘Image and Experience’. Also available online will be clips from many of Lilias’s films and the filmmaker’s own art/film work. The TV hour and feature-length documentary will be accompanied by a study guide and on-line resources such as full length interviews with the filmmaker and Lilias Fraser’s peers; clips of her films and memorabilia.