Jeni Thornley is a documentary filmmaker, writer, film valuer and lecturer. Her widely distributed, award winning films include: Island Home Country (2008), To the Other Shore (1996), the co-directed feature film and Penguin book: For Love or Money: a history of women and work in Australia (1983) and Maidens (1978). She was a contributing director on Australia Daze (1988).
Jeni is currently developing an archival film project, memory film: a filmmaker’s diary, based on her super 8 archive (1976-2003), acquired and digitised by the National Film & Sound Archive (NFSA). This is a film poem in the essay tradition – a meditation on time. Composed entirely from Jeni’s super8 archive the film is both personal and political, documenting the changing eras of the 1970’s-20003; see the ‘memory film’ project is evolving.
Jeni is an Honorary Research Associate in the School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UTS where she lectured in Issues in Documentary from 2002-2013, and producing her doctorate film and thesis, Island home country:subversive mourning. Earlier she taught history of documentary film at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). Jeni has written about documentary film extensively, contributing to Film News, The Conversation, Metro Magazine, Realtime, chapters for various monographs, and her own blog Documentary
Feminism and Film
2020 Camera Interviewee, Brazen Hussies, (dir Catherine Dwyer) a documentary feature about a revolutionary chapter in Australian history – the Women’s Liberation Movement (1965 -1975).
2019 Interviewee, Perspectives in Parryville, Ep. 6, Jeni Thornley, August 2019 (Mark Parry) Sound Cloud.
2019 Jeni interviews and holds Q&A with Beniamino Barrese (dir), The Disappearance of My Mother, Antenna Int Documentary Film Festival & OzDox, Oct 23 2019, Verona Cinema.
2019 Introduction [text] to Journey Among Women (Tom Cowan, feature film 1977), for the Retrospective, Film Continent Australia, Film Museum Vienna, April-June 2019.
2018 Introduction to The Silences (dir) Margot Nash UTS Tribute, ‘Stepping Into The Unknown’, Palace Cinema December 6th 2018.
2018 Kath Kenny writes about radical theatre and film and Jeni’s role in Film For Discussion (1973), Martha Ansara (dir) and Sydney Women’s Film Group: ‘Before #MeToo, 1970s feminists used film and theatre for women’s liberation, The Monthly, August 7 2018, https://kathkenny.com/2018/08/07/before-metoo-1970s-feminists-used-film-and-theatre-for-womens-liberation/
2017 Susan Charlton curated Feminism & Film: Sydney Women Filmmakers, 1970s & 1980s , Sydney Film Festival, including Film For Discussion (1973) with Martha Ansara and the Sydney Women’s Film Group and For Love or Money, (1983).
In March 2017 Jeni’s first film ‘Still Life’ (1974 with Dasha Ross) screened as part of the ‘Art & Life, Then and Now Program’ in the Melbourne Women in Film Festival. Jeni wrote ‘Looking at Women’ Peephole, Issue 7, 2017 to accompany the screening, along with other essays tributing the 1975 International Women’s Festival – that toured all Australian capital cities.
2017 Monash alumni launch new Australian women in film festival March 2017, School of Media, Film & Journalism News, Feb 2017.
In 2015 Jeni co-curated the ‘Women’s Gaze and the Feminist Film Archive’ Panel and Retrospective at the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) and Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), with Loma Bridge and Margot Nash, (AGNSW Forum on Vimeo) . The ‘Women’s Gaze’ Film Program included historic women’s films: Film For Discussion, We Aim To Please, Maidens, My Survival as an Aboriginal, Size 10, and For Love or Money.
Jeni was a pioneering member of the Sydney Women’s Film Group and Sydney Filmmakers Co-operative where she worked in film distribution, exhibition and wrote for Film News. She worked on many independent films as actress and collaborator, including Film For Discussion, Women and Men Living Together, Woman’s House and Secret Storm.
Jeni also worked as a camera assistant at Film Australia and on independent films, including Journey Among Women and Climbers. She was Manager of the Women’s Film Fund and Project Co-ordinator and film reader in Documentary Development, Australian Film Commission and the NSW Film & TV Office.