Mining the Mediatheque

The Australian Mediatheque

The Australian Mediatheque

On the face of it, the Australian Mediatheque might seem a little forbidding. For a start, ‘mediatheque’ is not a word you hear often. In fact, for most people, it is probably the first time they have ever heard the word. Then there is the darkened room, with people siphoned off into private little booths, engaged in their moving image world. What are they watching? Why are they there? Are they film industry people? Researchers? Students? What the hell is a ‘mediatheque’ anyway?! In the light of such troublesome questions, many people falter on the threshold, anxious to know more, but not sure how to ask. And then there are the ones who just walk right in…

Sure there are those in the film industry researching for their next project and students researching for Film Studies and such, but we also get a large number of people who simply enjoy watching films and just want to have a browse. Some of the most viewed films at the Mediatheque are the home movies. ‘Sharpies’, a series of home movies about the cultural phenomenon to sweep Australia in the 1970s, garners a lot of interest.

Sharpies (A Gathering)

Sharpies (A Gathering)

Often people will get misty-eyed on remembering their own ill-spent youth. A couple of ladies came in recently and by chance selected the home movie Billycarts which is mostly a bunch of kids playing with, as the title suggests, a billycart. To the sheer surprise of the ladies, they were able to spot themselves as young girls standing in the background, cheering on the racers.

Billycarts

'Billycarts'

Another who watched a documentary about Wyperfeld National Park identified the ranger featured in the documentary as an old friend. This has become an interesting way in which audiences experience the Mediatheque – as an archive of memories, both collective and personal. 

Wyperfeld

'Wyperfeld'

While these moments stand out for us, the vast majority of visitors to the Mediatheque are simply those who like to watch films, see new work or even revisit much-loved favourites. Over the next few months we look forward to sharing some of the Mediatheque’s hidden gems with you on this blog as we scour the combined collections of both ACMI and the National Film and Sound Archive for hidden filmic gold.

The Australian Mediatheque is open daily from 12-6pm. It is free entry and located on Level 1 at ACMI. 

If you have any great stories about the Australian Mediatheque or a prized pic you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear about it!

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