The treasure trove of stills that capture Australian film

Stills photographers are charged with capturing the story, characters and spirit of an entire film in just one frame. Now some of their most evocative images are going on show to the public for the first time, in Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits.

This exhibition, a partnership between the National Portrait Gallery and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NSFA), explores iconic portraiture from a century of Australian films. Quite often stills have survived when the actual films have been lost.

Drawn from the NSFA's extensive collection of publicity shots and behind the scenes images, the 300 stills featured in the exhibition chronicle the history and evolution of Australian movies beginning with 1906's The Story of the Kelly Gang.

"Being able to open up the lid of this huge treasure chest of images is such a thrill," says Meg Labrum from the NSFA. "They are truly beautiful."

Daphne Campbell in The Overlanders (unknown photographer, 1946).

Daphne Campbell in The Overlanders (unknown photographer, 1946). Photo: Courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

The star-studded exhibition showcases a roll call of Australia's best-known actors, including Nicole Kidman, David Gulpilil and Chips Rafferty, as well as largely forgotten movie stars of the early 20th century such as Louise Lovely.

Sam Neill and Judy Davis on set with director Gillian Armstrong in My Brilliant Career (David
Kynoch, 1979.

Sam Neill and Judy Davis on set with director Gillian Armstrong in My Brilliant Career (David Kynoch, 1979. Photo: ourtesy of Margaret Fink and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Audiences will be able to see stills of memorable scenes from their favourite films, and previously unseen moments of production, including candid pictures of actors on set between takes, such as Sam Neill and Judy Davis chatting with director Gillian Armstrong during the making of 1979's My Brilliant Career.

Nell Schofield and Jad
Capelja in Puberty Blues (Mike Roll, 1981).

Nell Schofield and Jad Capelja in Puberty Blues (Mike Roll, 1981). Photo: Courtesy of imelight Productions and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Also on view will be rare film posters, 1930s scrapbooks cataloguing images (and vital statistics) of aspiring actors and original costumes from movies including The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. "Anyone who appreciates photography, anyone who is interested in art and Australian cinema, will be inspired," says Labrum.

Saskia Post and Michael Hutchence in Dogs in Space (Steve Pyke, 1986);

Saskia Post and Michael Hutchence in Dogs in Space (Steve Pyke, 1986); Photo: Courtesy of Richard Lowenstein, Glenys Rowe and Dennis Wright and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding (Robert McFarlane, 1994).

Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding (Robert McFarlane, 1994). Photo: Courtesy of House and Moorhouse Films the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Starstruck will be at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, from November 10, 2017, until March 4, 2018, before travelling around the country

This story The treasure trove of stills that capture Australian film first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.