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 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 completed her doctorate film and thesis, Island home country : subversive mourning. She also taught history of documentary film at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). Jeni writes about documentary film regularly, contributing to The Conversation, Metro Magazine, Realtime and her own blog Documentary.
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). For more detail read the ‘memory=film’ project is evolving. She is also developing a memoir-essay about neo-colonising in The Kimberley, WA. Jeni’s films are available online (VOD) at beamafilm.
Feminism and Film Retrospectives are going strong. 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’ for the online journal Peephole, Issue 7, 2017 to accompany the screening, along with other essays that paid tribute to the 1975 International Women’s Festival that toured all Australian capital cities.
In June 2017 Susan Charlton curated Feminism & Film: Sydney Women Filmmakers, 1970s & 1980s for the Sydney Film Festival, and including two of Jeni’s filmmaking collaborations, Film For Discussion (1973) with Martha Ansara and the Sydney Women’s Film Group and For Love or Money, (1983).
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 Margot Nash, and Loma Bridge (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.