People all over Australia and internationally will be able to access Australia's audiovisual heritage free via the internet following the launch tonight of the Australian Film Commission's groundbreaking digital resource, australianscreen online, by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan.
This $2.4m initiative will offer the general public unparalleled access to a vast collection of excerpts of Australian feature films, television drama, documentaries, newsreels and other historical material gathered both from the rich collections of the AFC's partners in australianscreen online including the National Film and Sound Archive, the National Archives of Australia, the ABC, SBS and AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) as well as from Australia's independent production sector.
"Australia has a rich cinematic and television history. The Federal Government is pleased to support this state-of-the-art digital resource and congratulates the AFC and all its partners for creating australianscreen online. Now for the first time, all Australians regardless of where they live can access and explore this heritage. australianscreen online will also provide a platform for us to showcase our cultural history to the rest of the world," Senator Coonan said.
australianscreen online is a constantly expanding website presenting moving image clips from more than 500 feature films, television drama, documentaries, newsreels, short films, animations and home movies produced in Australia over the last 100 years. Included in this diverse collection are clips from the most recent Australian feature films Romulus My Father and Clubland as well as an amazing collection of curated historical footage that has previously never been freely available to the public. The website also provides interesting information about the programs, the key creatives involved and curators' notes.
australianscreen online has been developed in partnership with the Curriculum Corporation, through the Le@rning Federation, with a focus on creating a relevant and engaging tool for educators around the country. Students and teachers can study various audiovisual excerpts, supported with teachers' notes written specifically by the Curriculum Corporation. The site will be hosted by AARNET (Australia's Academic Research and Education Network).
"This unique project provides access to Australia's audiovisual heritage in the digital age," said AFC Chair, Maureen Barron "Nothing as comprehensive as this is freely available elsewhere and the AFC is delighted to have played a central role in bringing the partners together to make australianscreen online a reality."
australianscreen online has been funded by the Federal Government's 2004 election policy, A World Class Australian Film Industry. Specialist curators have chosen over 1500 moving image clips to date that are now available online. This is expected to grow to more than 2,500 clips by July 2008.
"The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that the benefits of information and communication technology are provided to all Australians. It is vitally important that we utilise technology to allow full participation in the cultural, political and intellectual life of the nation," Senator Coonan said.
Senator Coonan will launch the website at an event in Sydney this evening. Presenters of ABC's At the Movies, Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, Sue Mann, Chief Executive Officer of the Le@rning Federation and Ross Gibbs, Director General of the National Archives of Australia, will also help the AFC to launch this exciting initiative.