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Oldest Australian film found and restored

Thought you might enjoy this, I did - I love that our oldest film is of a rude rollerskating man..

Oldest Australian film found and restored

By Siobhan Heanue
Updated Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:25pm AEDT
The earliest known surviving film to be shot in Australia, featuring a rollerskater performing on a street in Melbourne, has been found and restored.
In true Australian style, it is irreverent and unapologetic.
In fact, it was seen as too risque for Australian audiences although it proved popular in European cinemas.
It was produced in 1896 by French filmmaker Marius Sestier, who was dispatched to Australia by a French film company in a bid to introduce cinema to the colony.
A pharmacist by trade, Sestier took well to his adventurous new career, setting up Australia's first public cinema in Sydney's Pitt Street.

Special message

The comic sequence, Patineur Grotesque (Humorous Rollerskater), follows a rollerskater performing in a Melbourne street.
The newly-restored film contains the 19th century equivalent of a well-known gesture of contempt, as the rollerskater lifts up his coat to show the camera the imprint of a white palm on his posterior.
It's a cinematic 'up yours', turn-of-the-century style.
Sally Jackson from the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) in Canberra says the rude message was probably aimed at the filmmaker's business rival.
"The rollerskater when he skates around he turns around flips up his coat tails on several occasions," she said.
"On the back you can see a big white hand and there's one particular finger that's a little bit higher than all the rest.
"Really what he was doing was he was giving his competitor the finger."

Film heritage

The film was shown for the first time on Australian soil at a special ceremony at the NFSA in Canberra, where it's been painstakingly restored using special equipment.
Sestier's great granddaughter Marie-Dominique Petitbois flew from France to attend the screening.
"It has been a big surprise for us," she said.
"We didn't realise he did so much in Australia."
She was able to provide the NFSA with notebooks and press clippings Marius Sestier kept from his trip to the Antipodes.
Sestier's short movies are forerunners to the 1906 film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, which is regarded as the world's first feature film.
Australia embraced the filmmaking revolution early on.
All this at a time when Hollywood was nothing more than a paddock.
The National Film and Sound Archive wants to hear from anyone who may have information about the man in the film, or the location.
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