Tuesday 2 April 2024

A Letter from veteran Oz film supporter and enthusiast David Donaldson - NFSA RESTORES WEBINAR, CAPTAIN THUNDERBOLT, THREE TO GO

      Greetings to film friends who may be interested in Restoring old Australian films. 


 The NFSA's Chief Curator Gayle Lake has long been concerned with Restoring at National Film and Sound Archive. Gayle will retire soon. The Friends of the Archive have secured a talk by Zoom on 14 April when Gayle will discuss the Archive's NFSA Restores Program, including how films are selected for the program, the research involved and the restoration process itself. There will be time for a Q&A at the end. Here is a chance to hear what goes on behind-the-scenes and ask the questions you've always wanted to ask.


            The webinar is free but you will need to book to receive the Zoom link.

            WHEN: Sunday 14 April, at 2pm AEST FREE BUT BOOKING ESSENTIAL


For more information about this event, please check the Friends of the NFSA website, here. 


Back in the 1950s, I saw the New England and Sydney production of Captain Thunderbolt at its one-week city release and twice later.  At a session in 2010 at Art Gallery of NSW, the Archive named Captain Thunderbolt as first in its Most Wanted list, since the full release film had been considered lost.

Now, thanks to searching by independent archivist Michael Organ, a full-length print in 35mm was located in Prague. It is currently in Canberra and being examined as to restoration possibilities. 

Treating the film as a theatrical feature, much has been written over the years about some remarkable merits. The annual award of the Australian Directors Guild carries the name of the director, Cecil Holmes. The award of the Australian Cinematographers Society carries the name of Ross Wood. 

Not only, though, is the film significant as a creative outburst in Sydney in that meagre film time of 1951. It came out of essentially a Radio background and Associated Productions further had a pioneering place in Television. No wonder it was chosen as Most Wanted!

To my mind, a re-presentation could take place in the Sydney Film Festival in June 2025 (a 70-year anniversary). ....AND at Armidale where the Australian premiere was held..... AND perhaps at Cockatoo Island, the site of the thrilling escape sequence. Much work and thought will be needed before any of that can happen. Many people and authorities will have to contribute.

Several interesting links appear below. If you would like further information, please Reply to filmart@dodo.com.au with your current email address and your telephone number. I will send you the Fact Sheet by Graham Shirley and then construct a special list of such friends of the film.


Thinking of restorations, Cinema Reborn will return to Sydney and extend to Melbourne in May. There will be a restoration of Three To Go, Gil Brealey’s 1971 production that gave drama-directing opportunity to three young directors. 

Book In Melbourne if you click Cinema Reborn at the Lido

Book in Sydney Cinema Reborn at the Ritz  


Thanks for your interest and hoping you will Reply as a Thunderboltian.

David Donaldson 

08 8267 5069


Discoverer Michael Organ’s comprehensive blog https://postersmo.blogspot.com/2023/09/captain-thunderbolt-1951.html

and reproducing many news pieces 


Graham Shirley’s 2010 article 


David Donaldson’s analysis of a key moment 






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