Albie Thoms, 1997 (Photo: Peter Mudie)

Albie Thoms (1941-2012) was one of the most significant figures of Australian postwar film culture. In a peripatetic career that stretched from his adventurous work with the Sydney University Drama Society in the early 1960s to the publication of his expansive and affectionately detailed memoir of that decade, My Generation, in the weeks after his death on 28 November, Thoms left his mark across avant-garde cinema, film theory and criticism, exhibition, documentary, film history, the surf movie and a range of filmmakers, curators and critics who were inspired and encouraged by his example, as well as his unflagging enthusiasm and generosity. He is probably best known for forming – along with Aggy Read, David Perry and John Clark – the avant-garde film group Ubu Films in 1965, the series of films, events and interventions in the art of cinema that entailed central to the development of alternative film practice in Australia. Thoms also made three seminal features between 1969 and 1980: the wildly ambitious Marinetti (1969); his tribute to the place (Sydney) that he loved so deeply, Sunshine City (1973); and one of the great late films of what is called the Australian film revival, Palm Beach (1980). But Albie was also self-effacingly remarkable for working across various forms, styles and modes of industrial practice – it is frankly mind-blowing to think that while completing and showing his bracingly experimental, and consciously modernist opus, Marinetti, he was also directing episodes of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. The articles included in this dossier pas tribute to Albie’s significant influence and importance. The readiness of key figures in Australian film culture, and the writing of this country’s film history, to reflect on their relationship with Albie, as well as the lasting significance of his varied work, is testament to the great affection and respect he engendered. This dossier includes wonderful tributes by a range of important figures in Australian film culture and criticism – some contemporaries – such as Barrett Hodsdon, Graham Shirley, John Flaus, Tina Kaufman and Jake Wilson. It also highlights the significant role that Albie played as a mentor (see Danni Zuvela and OtherFilm’s two articles) and critical inspiration. I’d particularly like to thank Peter Mudie, author of Ubu Films: Sydney Underground Movies 1965-1970, for supplying many of the images included in this dossier and for his inspiring archival work on Albie’s early career.

Albie Thoms Dossier – Contents

  1. The Ubu Moment and Australian Experimental Film: Interviews with Albie Thoms by Danni Zuvela for OtherFilm 
  2. Albie – A Well-Directed Life by Tina Kaufman 
  3. Albie Thoms (dissimilis aliqua alia) by Peter Mudie 
  4. Why Albie Thoms? – A Singular Commitment and a Figure Displaced by Barrett Hodsdon 
  5. Days of Future Past: Albie Thoms’ Polemics by Jake Wilson 
  6. Memoir of Albie by John Flaus 
  7. Albie Thoms as an Historian by Graham Shirley 
  8. Albie Thoms Refractions by Danni Zuvela for OtherFilm 

About The Author

Adrian Danks is Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and Media in the School of Media and Communication, RMIT University. He is also co-curator of the Melbourne Cinémathèque and was an editor of Senses of Cinema from 2000 to 2014. He has published hundreds of articles on various aspects of cinema and is the editor of A Companion to Robert Altman (Wiley-Blackwell) and American-Australian Cinema: Transnational Connections (Palgrave).

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