My earliest understandings of film as a creative product are associated with Gillian Armstrong. As a teenager, my mother took me on an outing to the city, to see My Brilliant Career (1978). I remember becoming aware that someone had deliberately gone to the effort of making a film from a book. A couple of years later, my father took me to see Starstruck (1982). He was so taken with it, he bought the record of the soundtrack and the song book so I could learn to play it on the piano. Thus I was introduced to the concept that music is written especially for films. Dad also took me around Sydney to see the various locations used in the film. By this point, I had decided I wanted to become a cinematographer, and so, early in my own career, I was introduced to the notion of the auteur or film director.
Since then I have seen all of Armstrong’s films as they were released and have run retrospectives of her Australian films for my friends and family, though I was unaware of her work in documentary or that she has worked extensively in the US. This research is an opportunity to revisit films of my childhood and to explore the influence Armstrong has had on Australian cinema and culture.
As with many women who make films, much is made of the values portrayed in Armstrong’s work and their relevance to current feminist theories. This narrow focus ignores her working practice and aesthetic choices and limits the opportunity for critical analysis. Armstrong’s films are character studies, with human interaction and personal journey at the heart of the narrative. With that as her springboard, she has ventured to explore several genres, including musical, gangster and most commonly, period drama. Though her stories do mostly revolve around female characters and feature women in lead roles (1), this aspect of her films has been well explored and documented, so I will not cover it in this paper. I instead will explore themes and common elements in her work. I will research her ongoing collaborations with cast and crew. Armstrong has made too many films to describe in detail here but I will refer to those I can and further details can be obtained via the bibliography.
Gillian Armstrong was born on December 18, 1950, and raised in Vermont, Melbourne. Her father was an amateur photographer. She studied General Art (including film) at Swinburne technical college in 1968 and then graduated in the first group of directors to go through the newly developed Australian Film and Televison School (now the AFTRS) along with Phil Noyce and Chris Noonan. She has worked as production assistant, editor and art director and served as “tea girl” on Fred Schepisi’s film Libido (1973). She has directed short dramas, music videos, short and long form documentaries and feature length dramas in Australia and the US. She received an AM for services to the Australian film industry, a Doctor of Letters from the University of New South Wales and the Hollywood Crystal Award for Women in Film.
Her first feature, My Brilliant Career, was the highlight of the period drama film genre which was popular in Australia at that time. Dermody and Jacka describe it as “the jewel in the crown of the worthy period-film cycle.” (2) In making this film, Armstrong became (astoundingly) the first woman to direct a feature length drama in Australia in 46 years. The film won seven Australian Film Institute Awards (AFIs) including Best Director and Best Film, and was invited into competition at Cannes. Since then, she has gone on to develop the genre both here and in the US, with her films Mrs Soffel (1984), Little Women (1994), Oscar and Lucinda (1997) and most recently Charlotte Gray (2001). She has alternated these films with contemporary and low-budget Australian films, featuring rock music, creative technical solutions and explorations of post-feminist themes. Armstrong directed her first American film, Mrs Soffel, in 1984, and her most recent film, Charlotte Gray, was principally shot in the UK, at Pinewood Studios.
Armstrong has directed eight feature length dramas, two feature length documentaries and many short films. I will briefly describe the feature films of most importance to the Australian film industry. Further information is available through references listed in the bibliography.
My Brilliant Career
Producer Margaret Fink invited Armstrong to direct My Brilliant Career, based loosely on a book by Miles Franklin. The story centres around Sybilla, whose ambition it is to become a writer. “I have always known that I should be a writer,” she states, perhaps echoing Armstrong’s own desire for a creative career.
Armstrong cast two unknowns in the lead roles: Sam Neill as Harry Beecham and Judy Davis as Sybilla Melvin. The film launched Davis’ career. Armstrong’s choice of unknowns was cause for concern with those funding the film but she was vindicated after the release of the film. However, Armstrong upset her critics when Sybilla refused to marry Harry, despite several proposals from him. Greater Union (the company who distributed and exhibited the film and so had a significant financial interest in the film), were worried that the female audience would be dissatisfied. So Armstrong added a line at the end with Sybilla saying “I’m so near loving you,” implying some sort of ambiguity. The conflict between career, creativity and marriage is a developing theme in Armstrong’s work and this is merely her first commentary on it.
Sybilla plays piano, endlessly, and not always well, and when asked by her mother what she could possibly do to earn her own way, she replies typically, that she would like to be a concert pianist. She belts out her tune on the un-tuned family piano. By the end of the film she plays beautifully on instruments that are cared for by wealthy landowners, demonstrating her refinement of character. The film is rich with musical elements, which add texture to the production design. Sybilla’s male companions all sing and dance. She and Harry play piano duets. The signature tune is Schumann’s Kinderscenen Op.15, which has been arranged for this film in many variations, from single piano to duet to full orchestra.
My Brilliant Career has a strong design sense, supporting the visual telling of the story. The sets are rich with lace, wallpaper, paintings and attention to detail true to the period, all no doubt influenced by Armstrong’s own experience in art departments. Drawing on her background in design, she worked as art director on Tom Cowan’s feature, Promised Woman (1975).
Armstrong’s second film sprang from a desire to direct something completely different to My Brilliant Career, in order to demonstrate that she could direct more than period drama and women’s films. This time she went for a high energy, rock musical written by Stephen Maclean, who she met at a party one night when they were both very drunk. The film is visually stylised, obviously musically based and resumes her collaboration with cinematographer Russell Boyd (The Singer and the Dancer, 1976). Once again she casts unknown actors, Jo Kennedy as Jackie and Ross Donovan as Angus. It is quirky, energetic, colourful and fun.
In this film, the back-drop bushscape of My Brilliant Career is replaced by the city of Sydney. Exterior shots constantly show glimpses of the Harbour Bridge, which becomes a visually recurring motif in the film. The shots are bright and colourful which Armstrong says suits comedy: “There’s a theory that comedy should be brighter on the screen, so you don’t go for the sort of moody Brilliant Career thing” (3) The story is interspersed by musical interludes shot in the style of ’80s music video.
The film begins where Brilliant Career leaves off, by posing the question, “What do ya wanna be?” Jackie wants to be a singer and Angus a producer. The film ends with them storming the opera house and fulfilling their desires. Jackie finds fame and Angus rolls down the carpet steps, kissing his first girlfriend.
Mrs Soffel, USA
Set in a Pittsburgh prison and based on a true story, Mrs Soffel is Armstrong’s first directing experience in Hollywood. Once again she draws on the talents and support of Australian cinematographer Russell Boyd, ACS, editor Nick Beauman, and production designer Lucciana Arrighi. She casts a young Mel Gibson (as Ed) and Dianne Keaton (as Mrs Soffel) in this dark love story. Mrs Soffel argues constantly with her husband about what she is allowed to do and she strongly advises her daughter not to marry young. She is driven by repressed passions that ultimately explode when she assists two prisoners (one of them Ed) in their escape, finally running away with them and briefly satisfying her desire before Ed is shot. “The films of Gillian Armstrong have regularly been noted for their rebellious, strong, independent heroines” (4), Felicity Collins wrote, and Mrs Soffel is no exception, leaving her husband, children and prison duties for a wild adventure. Boyd’s camera work is typically fluid and features unmotivated pans across detail and texture of the city and prison as though these inanimate features of the landscape were characters in their own right. The stones of the prison have a strong visual presence. Prisoner faces are obscured by bars. Sometimes Mrs Soffel’s face is too, placing her as a prisoner of her own life and predicting her inevitable triumphant position on the other side. The lovers’ mad departure through snow-covered territory is bleak and monochromatic, yet exultant, as she finally escapes from marriage, family and life at the prison.
Moving away from period drama and back to Australia, Armstrong directs High Tide (1987), which is set in the sea side town of Eden and stars Judy Davis, Colin Friels and a young Claudia Karvan. Armstrong seems to have a particular talent for recognising acting ability early in actors’ careers. Having shot Mrs Soffel with a Hollywood-sized budget, High Tide is a return to low-budget, Australian-style filmmaking. Armstrong needed a steadicam but could only afford it for two days, so cinematographer Boyd and his grip developed a technique of holding the camera, one on each side, and running with it. These travelling shots are eerie and add a rich texture to the film and are reminiscent of the prison wall shots in Mrs Soffel.
Armstrong directed this film in the year following the birth of her first child. After a day’s shooting, she would go home, read her baby a story, put her to bed and then go back for the evening rushes. She says she learned early on that “…if you are going to be a working mother, you have to be very strict about wasted time. You want to be home as quickly as possible.” (5) High Tide revisits Armstrong’s interest in rock music but this time the protagonist star is very reluctant. She is preoccupied with finding her daughter, who she abandoned as a baby. Here the roles are reversed from My Brilliant Career‘s Sybilla or Starstruck‘s Jackie. Here we have a star who doesn’t want to be one. This role reversal allows for exploration of an alternative point of view in Armstrong’s cinema. The questions remain similar: what are honorable aims in life? What does it mean to be a mother? Who can be a mother? These questions are relevant to Armstrong’s own life at this time.
The Last Days of Chez Nous
Geoffrey Simpson ACS (cinematographer) and Armstrong began their collaboration on The Last Days of Chez Nous (1991). The film is based on a story by Australian writer Helen Garner. The film is more in the style of High Tide, with a low budget and more freeform narrative structure. It is typical of Armstrong’s Australian films, with less than perfect heroes. She casts Bill Hunter alongside Bruno Ganz (who plays JP). The story focuses on two sisters, Beth and Vicki (played by Lisa Harrow and Kerry Fox, respectively), both aspiring writers. “The film’s major strength is the depth and richness of its female characters.” (6) JP sums up the sisters’ relationship by describing partner Beth’s sister as “your little mirror”.
In a poignant scene, reminiscent of The Singer and the Dancer, Beth’s daughter Annie (teenage Miranda Otto) teases her mother about putting her into a nursing home. Having seen the first film, this scene has added irony. The Last Days of Chez Nous could easily be the sequel to The Singer and the Dancer. At the end of Last Days, JP leaves Beth to live with the younger sister. Annie asks “shouldn’t you fight back? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?”, almost in reply, is Sybilla’s “no, that’s exactly what men want us to believe.” (7)
The film is set around the family home in Balmian, Sydney. The home appears large and rambling and the audience is never exactly sure of its layout. Beth’s writing room is attached to the bedroom of her failed and unconsummated marriage. Interestingly, the middle section of this film is set in the desert, in an attempt by Beth to tidy up her exterior psyche. By the time she returns home, her house is in complete disarray. The final scene of the film has Beth walking out of the house, into her suburb, in search of a church spire she has observed for years but never ventured out to see for herself. This represents a more sophisticated integration of interior and exterior self.
Not Fourteen Again
In 1977, Armstrong was commissioned by the South Australian Film Corporation to make a documentary about 14 year old Adelaide girls, Smokes and Lollies. It was her first paid job as director. “I think documentary filmmaking is very, very hard. It doesn’t completely suit my personality.” (8) The film explored issues surrounding what it meant to be a teenager and asked questions about sex, family, work and school. Armstrong then developed her own interest in the girls and went back to interview them again at ages 18, 26 and 33. The final film, Not Fourteen Again (1996), is in the style of Michael Apted’s 7 Up series (1964-1998, ongoing) in that the edit revisits material shot from the previous three films and intersperses them with current interviews. Unlike Apted’s series which sprang from a psychological hypothesis, Smokes and Lollies was only ever meant as a stand-alone project and it was Armstrong’s own interest in the girls’ lives that kept her coming back. The subsequent films grew out of the first film.
Despite the difficulty and randomness of this film, Armstrong presents a warm, compassionate view of the lives of these women and their daughters. By the final film, she has started interviewing the next generation of children, who are by now teenagers, and the film is so emotionally compelling that one wonders how she can stop here. Armstrong says this film is the final part of the series, but perhaps one day her own daughters will continue the story of the teenagers and their lives. (9)
Little Women, USA
Armstrong’s most loved, probably most beautifully crafted and certainly most successful film is Little Women, based on the book of the same title by Louisa May Alcott. Producers had to work hard to convince her to direct this film because of its obvious similarities with My Brilliant Career– autobiographical, about a girl writer and the conflict between a career and marriage. Producer Denise di Novi persisted, pointing out that this film would reach a much greater audience, and that Little Women takes up where her first film finished: Jo March goes on to find love and a career. “Whereas My Brilliant Career was a personal quest, this was essentially a family saga – for Armstrong a strong plus factor.” (10) Felicity Collins writes about the riddle of the films being about the writing of books which describe the events of the film, so that the film is predating the book on which the film is based. (11) By the end of the respective films, Jo and Sybilla each hold the bundle of paper that is the book they have written during the film.
It is another period piece but this time set in America, on the New England coast. Armstrong cast Winona Ryder as Jo, Susan Sarandon as Marmee and Trini Alvarado (who also plays the older sister in Mrs Soffel) as Meg, Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst as the March sisters. Sarandon’s portrayal of the Marmee character is reminiscent of Mrs Soffel, yet Danes’ ailing Beth is long way from Luhrmann’s Juliet. The March girls are like an expanded out version of Sybilla. Jo is a writer, Beth plays piano, Amy paints and Meg marries and has children. Lucinda sits up in her big bed, kitten in her lap, saying, “I wish I had ten sisters.” Armstrong herself has an older sister and younger brother.
For Jung, sisters represent a shedding of light and a bringing matters of the psyche into consciousness. The March sisters live in a world of warm light and comfort. They travel through the cold blue snow to move between school, work and home. They gaze adoringly at the light emanating from their neighbour Laurie’s home. Cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson says’ “Gill and I wanted a very warm, homely kind of feeling to come from the photography. To contrast that, I made the exteriors cold and slightly bleak.” (12) As with Chez Nous, there is a recognised difference between the worlds inhabited by the interior and exterior psyche.
In many ways Little Women is the convergence of Armstrong’s film making experiences. Armstrong says, “Little Women is a film I was personally affected by when watching it, but I don’t think my approach to the film was in any way consciously different to that of any of my other films.” (13) It includes all of her themes and motifs from earlier films, including scenes of children playing the piano together, oranges, cherished kittens, a desire for some other better life and unrequited love. Jo and Sybilla both lean on gates at the threshold of their family homes.
Oscar and Lucinda
Oscar and Lucinda is based on the book by Australian writer Peter Carey and celebrates, yet again, the collaboration between Armstrong, Beauman, Turnbull, Arrighi and Simpson. Armstrong describes it as “an epic and odd love story that also deals with faith and fate and chance.” (14) It begins with the lush production values of Little Women, demonstrating the breadth of experience these filmmakers bring to their collective craft. The cast support the story well, and Armstrong once again shows her intuition for picking stars by casting Ralph Fiennes (before he became famous for The English Patient [Anthony Minghella,1996]) as Oscar, and Cate Blanchett as Lucinda.
The narrator (Geoffrey Rush) describes the story as “a dream, a lie, a wager, love.” The epic journey is driven by Oscar’s wager with God that he could be loved after his father’s rejection and mother’s death. Oscar (Anglican seminarian) carries the same religious conviction attributed to Mrs Soffel (Christian) and Marmee of Little Women (Transcendentalist).
Despite this being a period drama, Simpson and Armstrong steer away from the classic look of Little Women and try for a “bolder, more contemporary-looking film with a sort of industrial, gutsy edge.” (15) Images of the glass cathedral floating down the river are unforgettable and would have been difficult to film, especially in trying to avoid reflections of crew and camera in the glass. Whereas most of her films have a three-act structure, with the middle section taking place somewhere different (Little Women: New York, Mrs Soffel: snow country, Last Days of Chez Nous: the outback) Oscar and Lucinda has three completely different settings; the English coast, old Sydney Town and then the journey up the Mann River, through the bush. “It was my own little Fitzcarraldo”, she says, referring to Herzog’s epic tale. (16) In this film though, for the first time, I have the feeling that Armstrong and her crew view Australia from an outsider’s perspective. They don’t really engage with the land nor the Aboriginal characters in the story. The tale is told from a more objective position, with much wider shots, watching the events unfold.
Armstrong’s films demonstrate a diversity and breadth of story-telling. She has alternated between shooting in Australia and the US, between period and contemporary drama, films for theatrical release and television and also between documentary and drama.
I discovered many common visual motifs amongst her films. Kittens, oranges, pianos, snow, gates, and bundles of paper which will become books, are icons that appear regularly and affectionately. These may reflect Armstrong’s own aesthetic preferences or perhaps indicate her interest in similar types of characters as subjects for her films. It is also indicative of her interest in the craft of visual storytelling and art direction.
All Armstrong films have a strong sense of place, of the landscape in which they are set. My Brilliant Career features the Australian bush landscape, typical of Heidelberg painters. Starstruck substitutes the city of Sydney, in place of the bush. Mrs Soffel features large expanses of white, cold snow plains. Last Days of Chez Nous moves interior and the house becomes the landscape. We are never allowed to know the exact geography of this house, suggesting disorientation and disorder, or a messy interior psyche.
There are strong parallels between her films and her life. My Brilliant Career describes the conflict between relationship and career and coincides with Armstrong’s first role as feature director. High Tide, about the relationship between an estranged mother and daughter, was shot the year after her first child was born. Not Fourteen Again and Little Women, dealing with the coming of age of daughters and sisters, is made as Armstrong’s own two daughters are growing up. Her films portray children alongside adults, with integrity and sensitivity. Children are often responsible for driving the narrative forward or providing alternative points of view (as in Mrs Soffel, High Tide, Starstruck, Smokes and Lollies). Her heroines often have eccentric yet intelligent older women or aunts for role models (as in The Singer and the Dancer, Little Women, My Brilliant Career).
It is the story of unrequited love, restrained passion and friendship between men and women, which I believe is at the heart of all Armstrong films. Sybilla can never marry Harry, anymore than Jo could marry Laurie. And Lucinda is fated to lose Oscar with no more than a kiss between them. They will love each other dearly but never be more than friends or mates. Of her own partner, Armstrong says, “I’ve been lucky that I’ve had a partner who has really made the sacrifice. It is thanks to his generosity that I’ve achieved the balances.” (17)
Armstrong’s films have high production values, often on small budgets, which reflects her choice to work with the same crew through many years and productions and her ability to cast well. Her screenplays have come from our best writers and novelists: Peter Carey, Miles Franklin, Helen Garner and also America’s Louisa May Alcott. Her films have been shot by our finest cinematographers: Don McAlpine ACS and ASC, Russel Boyd ACS, Geoffrey Simpson ACS and most recently Dion Beebe ACS.
Armstrong has the foresight to cast inexperienced actors, giving roles and a future career to young actors such as Judy Davis, Miranda Otto, Claudia Karvan and Kirsten Dunst, often with a consequently lower production budget. Of the audition process she says, “…for me it’s often a gut feeling when hearing the words come alive.” (18) Armstrong has recognised her loyal and long serving first assistant with the additional credit of producer. Despite one devastating film experience in America, she has returned there to make one of her finest films (Little Women), this time with the experience to choose her producers wisely. Furthermore, she has taken many of her Australian crew with her, giving them the advantage of working overseas, and at the same time continues to do her post-production within Australia, bringing funds and experience back into our film community. “All in all, her work reminds one of the best of Hollywood cinema and the question of whether her aim is parody or homage is often left pleasingly ambiguous.” (19)
Armstrong has made a significant contribution to the Australian film industry and culture and is a role model and inspiration to all filmmakers. “At her best”, Molly Haskell has written, “Gillian Armstrong cuts closer to the core of women’s divided yearnings than any other director.” (20) We have much to learn from her and our film culture has been greatly enriched by her. She should be interviewed, documented and celebrated as an Australian artist and treasure.
Storytime (1968) short
Four Walls (1969) short
Old Man and a Dog (1969) short
The Roof Needs Mowing (1970) short (8mins) Swinburne, B&W
Shit Commercial (1971) short
Decision (1972) short
Satdee Night (1973) short (17mins) AFTRS
Gretel (1973) short (24mins) AFTRS
100 a Day (1973) short (8mins) AFTRS, B&W
Smokes and Lollies (1975) documentary (25mins)
The Singer and the Dancer (1976) drama short (54mins) Also scriptwriter
A Time and a Place (1977) short
My Brilliant Career (1978) feature (100mins)
14’s Good, 18’s Better (1980) documentary (47mins) sequel to Smokes and Lollies
Touch Wood (1980) documentary
A Busy Kind of Bloke (1980) documentary (30mins)
More Smokes, Less Lollies (1981) documentary
Starstruck (1982) feature (100mins)
Not Just a Pretty Face (1983) documentary
Having a Go (1983) documentary
Mrs Soffel (1984) feature, USA
A Decade of Women (1985) made for television – Community Service Announcement (60sec)
Hard to Handle (1986) documentary, also known as Bob Dylan in Concert
High Tide (1987) feature
Bingo, Bridesmaids and Braces (1988) documentary
Fires Within (1991) also known as Little Havana, feature, USA
Last Days of Chez Nous (1991)
Little Women (1994) feature (115mins) USA
Not Fourteen Again (1996) feature length documentary
Oscar and Lucinda (1997) feature (131mins)
Charlotte Gray (2001) feature (120mins)
Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst (2006) feature length documentary
Death Defying Acts (2007) feature (96 mins)
Love, Lust & Lies (2010) feature length documentary (87 mins)
Women He’s Undressed (2015) feature length documentary (99 mins)
Caputo, Raffaele and Burton, Geoff, Second Take: Australian filmmakers talk, Allen and Unwin, Australia, 1999
Colbert, Mary, “Little Women”, Filmnews, Vol 25, No.2 (April 1995)
Collins, Felicity, “The Films of Gillian Armstrong”, The Moving Image, No.6, published by ATOM, Australia, 1999
Creed, Blonski and Freiberg (eds.), Don’t Shoot Darling! Women’s independent Filmmaking in Australia, Greenhouse Publications, Australia, 1987
Dermody, Susan and Jacka, Elizabeth, The Screening of Australia: Anatomy of a National Cinema Vol.2, Currency Press, Sydney, 1988
Francke, Lizzie, “What are you girls going to do?” Sight and Sound, Vol 5, No.4, 1995, pp.28-29
James Bailey, Julie, Reel Women: working in film and television, AFTRS, Australia, 1999
Magid, Ron, “Religious Pasage”, American Cinematographer, February 1998, pp.90-94
Matthews, Sue, 35mm Dreams: Conversations with Five Directors about the Australian film revival, Penguin Books, Australia, 1984
Quinn, Meredith and Urban, Andrew, Edge of the Known World,. AFTRS, Australia, 1998
Smith, Margaret and Coller, Emma, “Geoffrey Simpson”, Cinema Papers, No.103, 1995, pp.52-54
Unterburger, Amy L. (ed), The St James Women Filmmakers Encyclopaedia, Visible Ink, 1999
Wright, Andree, Brilliant Careers: Women in Australian Cinema, Pan Books, Australia, 1986, pp.90-105
Articles in Senses of Cinema
Compiled by the author and Albert Fung
Great Moments on the Australian Screen
Biography, credits, reviews, references and full details of cast and crew for all her features.
Navigating the Documentaries of Gillian Armstrong
Here you can find some information on Armstrong’s documentaries. Only some of the links work though.
Great Moments on the Australian Screen
On My Brilliant Career
The official Charlotte Gray film site
Includes images and clips.
The Language Thing
Interview about Charlotte Gray
The Austin Chronicle Movie Guide
Reviews of Last Days of Chez Nous, Charlotte Gray, Little Women and Oscar and Lucinda
The Last Days of Chez Nous
A critical review of the film. Includes a list of resource material
- Everist, Robyn, “Her Early Career”, in Creed, Blonski and Freiberg (eds), Don’t Shoot Darling! Women’s independent Filmmaking in Australia. Greenhouse Publications, Australia, 1987, p.314
- Dermody, Susan and Jacka, Elizabeth, The Screening of Australia: Anatomy of a National Cinema Vol.2, Currency Press, Sydney, 1988, pp.32-33
- Dermody and Jacka, 1988, p.32-33
- Collins, Felicity, “The Films of Gillian Armstrong”, The Moving Image, No. 6, 1999
- James Bailey, Julie, Reel Women: working in film and television, AFTRS, Australia, 1999, pp.204-217
- Unterburger (ed), Amy L. (ed), The St James Women Filmmakers Encyclopaedia, Visible Ink, 1999, p.22
- from My Brilliant Career
- James Bailey, 1999, 204-217
- Armstrong, Gillian, Interview with the Author, AFTRS, 2002
- Colbert, Mary, “Little Women”, Filmnews, Vol 25, No.2, April 1995, p.10
- Collins, 1999
- Smith, Margaret and Coller Emma,, “Geoffrey Simpson”, Cinema Papers, No. 103 (March1995), pp.52-54
- Caputo, Raffaelle & Burton, Geoff, Second Take: Australian Filmmakers Talk, Allen and Unwin, Australia, 1999, p.113
- “An Interview with Gillian Armstrong”, http://www.stageandscreen.com. Note: this page no longer seems to be there.
- Magid, Ron, “Religious Passage”, American Cinematographer, February 1998, pp.90-94
- Magid, 1998, p.9
- James Bailey, 1999, pp.204-217
- Caputo & Burton, 1999, p.113
- Unterburger (ed), 1999, p.22
- quoted from Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopaedia, quotation found at http://us.imdb.com/Bio?Armstrong,+Gillian