Book: Shining a Light

Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute By Lisa French and Mark Poole

Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute traces the progress of the film and television industries in Australia, as well as Australian screen culture, from the inception of the Australian Film Institute (AFI) in 1958 through to its 50th anniversary in 2008.

About the Book

Authors Lisa French and Mark Poole offer an insider’s view through 27 interviews with key players within the Australian screen industry.

French and Poole provide the following overview:

“The book commences with an in-depth essay on screen culture. We have begun here because ‘screen culture’ (or the earlier ‘film culture’) is arguably the AFI’s raison d’être. We have devoted a chapter to considering what is meant by this amorphous term and why screen culture (and the AFI) is so vital in supporting the production sector, as we firmly believe it is.

“The second part of the book contains an overview of the history of the AFI, divided into three parts. The first (chapter 2) describes the Institute’s birth, where a small group of dedicated film-goers created a national organisation to facilitate the importation and screening of significant films from overseas, up until the rebirth of the film industry. Chapter 3 covers the 1970s, which was an important time of growth for the AFI in reflection of the wider industry. Chapter 4 covers the AFI’s progression during the eighties and then chapter 6, the 1990s and 2000s, a time of maturation of the production industry, and arguably a decline of the screen culture sector.”

The book also includes a listing of every AFI Award given from 1958 to 2008, including the nominees and winners of each award category.

About the Authors

The authors' collective experience spans filmmaking, academic research and teaching, film journalism, employment and service in key screen culture organisations, as well as an abiding passion for Australian cinema – bringing to this work both the filmmaker and industry perspective, and academic scholarship.

Lisa French is a Senior Lecturer in Cinema Studies, Media and Communication at RMIT University. She is also the co-author of Womenvision: Women and the Moving Image in Australia and has previously collaborated on film projects with Mark Poole, including making the film Birth of a Film Festival (2003), a film about the first Melbourne International Film Festival. She was a board member of the AFI for nine years.

Mark Poole is a Melbourne based writer/director and current Victorian Chair of the Australian Writers Guild. He has written more than 20 hours television drama, including the AFI Award winning telefeature A Single Life; he co-produced and directed the documentary Fearless, screened on the ABC (2008); and he is a contributor to the online journal Screen Hub and other publications such as The AgeMetro and Storyline.

Buy a Copy

Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute is available to AFI | AACTA members for $AUD35.00, or $39.95 for non members. A postage and handling charge of $7.00 applies within Australia.

To purchase a copy of Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute please complete the offline payment form and email to: