Author Archives: Jeni Thornley

About Jeni Thornley

I am a documentary filmmaker, writer, film valuer and Honorary Research Associate in the School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UTS. I am currently working on an archival project: ‘memory=film', drawn from my Super8 collection (1976-2003); and developing an essay-memoir about neo-colonising in the Kimberley, ‘Notes From a Dry Town’.

Recent News

April 15th, 2019 | Posted by Jeni Thornley in News - (0 Comments)

The ‘memory=film’ project is evolving; this is a filmmakers diary, a film poem about time passing, drawn from my Super8 collection 1976-2003.

See my Documentary blog for recent writing in 2019:

Journey Among Women #metoo

Intertextuality in Margot Nash’s ‘The Silences’.

Feminism & Film: Sydney Women Filmmakers, 1970s & 1980s at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.  Three Retrospective programs which include two films I worked:  screening Sat 10 June 12.30  Event Cinema 8 George St:  ‘Film For Discussion’ (1974), with Sydney Women’s Film Group and Martha Ansara

Jeni and her mum in Film For Discussion

Jeni and her mum in Film For Discussion

For Love Or Money: A History of Women And Work in Australia’ (1983) with co-filmmakers (see pic).

For Love or Money filmmakers: L-R Nash, McMurchy, Thornley, Oliver (pic Sandy Edwards)

For Love or Money filmmakers: L-R Nash, McMurchy, Thornley, Oliver (pic Sandy Edwards)

Film For DiscussionFor Love or Money and Margot Nash’s We Aim to Please screeningSat 10 June 12.30  Event Cinema 8 George St:  Tickets available

Still Life I recently wrote an essay on Still Life (74) for Peephole Journal – revisiting the film to investigate our “original intentions of challenging the male gaze. Criticised at the time for perpetuating the sexual objectification of the female body, Thornley counters this now, in 2017, by arguing for the film’s “collaborative gaze,” one that is shared by the women behind and in front of the camera”.

The artist model confronts the male gaze

The artist model confronts the male gaze, Still Life, 1974

Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF) screens Still Life, March 2017.  In online mag ‘Mojo News’ Emily Burkhard reviews ‘Still Life’ (Jeni Thornley & Dasha Ross 1974) as “raw and evocative”, along with a discussion of the contemporary films screened: Clare Ferra’s ‘Progressive Evolution; (2011) and ‘Love Oscillation’ (2012), and Amie Batalibasi’s ‘Lit’ (2016). “The festival stood out for its series of informative and insightful panel discussions during the two-day inaugural showcase – on the role of women in screen culture, how this has evolved from the days of the 1975 International Women’s Film Festival.”

Public screening and discussion: Island Home Country (52 min). Monday 14th March 7.30pm, Mona Vale Memorial Hall; hosted by the Aboriginal Support Group – Manly Warringah Pittwater (ASG). ASG started in 1979 as a treaty organization and later developed into a group of people committed to supporting Indigenous Australians in their broader struggle for justice.

Public screening and discussion: Island Home Country (52 min. film & thesis, DCA UTS 2011), Screening Indigeneity Series, Menzies Centre for Australian Studies & the Department of Film Studies, King’s College London, September 15th 2015.

For Love or Money, (Dir. McMurchy, Nash, Oliver, Thornley), 2nd International Women’s Film Festival Bangladesh, Seminar Hall, Central Public Library, Dhaka, 16th March 2015.

Curator & Panelist, ‘Women’s Gaze and the Feminist Film Archive’, Future Feminist Archive, Art Gallery of NSW and Sydney College 2015.

Delegate, Critical Thought Versus The Capitalist Hydra, CIDECI, Universidad de la Tierra Chiapas, Mexico, May 2015

Subcomandante Insurgente Moises

Maidens (dir. Thornley 1978), Retrospective Screening, Films from the Co-ops Part 1, Melbourne Cinémathèque, ACMI Cinemas, Federation Square, Melbourne, May  20 2015.

'The Maidens', my mum's school play, Tasmania 1933.

The Maidens’, mum’s school play, Tasmania 1933 

Referee reader for monograph, Robots and Art: Exploring an Unlikely Symbiosis (eds.), D. Herath, C. Kroos & Stelarc, Springer 2015.

Interviewee: In New Zealand, the Activist Complex Female Protagonist Whispers, (Marian Evans). Research Report on the New Zealand Film Commission’s Gender Policy, 2015

Interviewee, When the Camera Stopped Rolling (dir. Jane Castle). A documentary feature film about Lilias Fraser, pioneer of the Australian documentary film industry. Screen Australia and Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF), 2016

Interviewee, A Filmmakers’ Cinema: 20 Years of the Filmmakers’ Co-operatives (dir. John Hughes & Tom Zubrycki), a documentary film-archival project, 2016.

Interviewee (audio), Genealogy of thought-practice: sexual difference (Dir.Alex Martinis Roe), an arts based documentary film, 2016.

Member Filmnews Digitising Collective: a project to digitise the entire collection of Filmnews via the National Library of Australia’s Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program. Finance currently being raised from various sources, including Australian Directors Guild (ADG) 2016.

The original Film News Collective c1980

Filmnews Ed board

Recent writing on documentary

March 12th, 2016 | Posted by Jeni Thornley in News - (0 Comments)

In Press: Book chapter: ‘“We are not dead”: Decolonizing the Frame’, (ed.) Knopf et al., First Takes, Fourth World: Global Indigenous Films, Transnational Indigenous Perspectives Series, Routledge, 2016.

Book Chapter: ‘ Island Home Country: On the possibility of praxis between “artefact” and “exegesis” in the creative arts doctorate : a case study’, eds., L. Ravelli et al, Doctoral Writing in the Creative and Performing Arts: the researcher/practitioner nexus (Libri, UK 2014).

PHD thesis: ‘Island Home Country’– Subversive mourning: working with Aboriginal protocols in a documentary film about colonisation and growing up white in Tasmania. A cine-essay and exegesis (online)

Film Festival Review: ‘The eye of the camera: Ethnographic documentary and the Aperture Festival’, Metro Media & Education Magazine, Issue 181, Sept.2014.

Essay : ‘Islands of possibility: Film-making, cultural practice, political action and the decolonization of Tasmanian history’, Studies in Australasian Cinema, Decolonizing Screens, 7.2:  2013.

Film Festival Review: “The ethnography of compassion: documentary in Vietnam”Realtime #13 2013.

Book ReviewReview of “Cinema’s Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács”, in Screening The Past, 2012.

TV Series Review: Go back to where you came from: Reality TV encounters the refugee crisis, The Conversation, June 2011.

Book Review:  ‘Australia Documentary: History Practices and Genres’, Trish FitzSimons et al, Cambridge UP, 2011, Metro Magazine, No 173, 2011.

Book Chapter: Island Home Country, ‘Working with Aboriginal protocols in a documentary film about colonisation and growing up white in Tasmania’, in Eds. Peters-Little, Curthoys & Docker,  ’Passionate Histories Myth, Memory and Indigenous Australia’, (Aboriginal History Monograph 21 ANU Press, 2010.


“The ethnography of compassion: documentary in Vietnam”.

August 29th, 2013 | Posted by Jeni Thornley in News - (0 Comments)

Island Home Country was invited to  the inaugural International Anthropological Film Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Nov 12) ; it was organised by VICAS, Vietnam Institute of Culture and Arts Studies) and screened in four venues across Ho Chi Minh City.

jeni with students HCMC

This was an amazing event-demonstrating what visual ethnography offers the documentary tradition – the  vibrant energy of cultural exchange and shared consciousness. Here is a my review of the Festival in Realtime #13 2013:   “The ethnography of compassion: documentary in Vietnam”. It has now been translated into Vietnamese and published in the VICAS journal.