Arena Project Space, 2 Kerr St, Fitzroy. $10

Tuesday 17 April @ 8:30pm (The 70s)

Thursday 19 April @ 8pm (The 80s)



A seminal figure in the history of Australian independent film, Peter Tammer has amassed a body of work over five decades that wends between fiction and documentary, experimental and essayistic modes. A hotpot of different modes, styles, aesthetics and ontologies, there is nonethless a consistant set of interests that bind his work into a unified whole.

The mid-to-late 60s were an especially rich personal and creative period for Peter. His seminal indie film screening series A Breath of Fresh Air (Dendy Brighton) preceded the Melbourne Film-makers Co-op. Around this time, constellations of friendship and influence formed among other notable, pioneering figures as Tom Cowan, Nigel Buesst, Tim Burstall, John Richardson, Jim Wilson, Paul Cox, Kit Guyatt, and the Cantrills, and later, their counterparts in Sydney, most notably the UBU Films crowd: Aggy Read, Albie Thoms and David Perry.

Peter’s first films were short narrative and experimental works — the culmination of which is undoubtedly Flux (1970), an essayistic diary film that delicately contrasts and interweaves two temporalities, two worlds, and two histories - that of Peter's familial life in suburban Melbourne around the time the film was shot, and that of his father-in-law's, an Austrian Jew who emigrated to Australia after World War II. Along with Corinne Cantrill’s In This Life’s Body (1984), Gillian Leahy’s My Life Without Steve (1986) and Saidin Salkic’s Konvent (2010), it is one of the key films in the Australian “interior landscapes” tradition.

From 1973-75, Peter was employed as a tutor training other teachers in film at Melbourne State College, Carlton. In 1977, he was approached by Brian Robinson to take on part-time teaching at Swinburne, eventually morphing into a legendary stint at VCA Film & Television School, where Peter provided direct inspiration and guidance to countless of our country’s best film-makers. Peter served in that role until 1998.

Peter’s films over the 80s are characterised by a synthesis of his all major modes up to that point. His first major narrative feature Mallacoota Stampede (1981) won the Erwin Rado Prize at that year's Melbourne Film Festival, inaugurating a more formally and conceptually ambitious cycles of films - six major works over 5 years, all of which were concurrent with his full-time teaching duties. The period 1980–85, concurrent with the most celebrated period of his late friend Paul Cox, thus represents one of the sterling periods in Australian independent film.

Throughout this period, Peter’s work blended interests in essayistic, personal and fragmentary modes of narration characteristic of hybrid works such as Journey to the End of Night (1982) and Fear of the Dark (1985) with more intricately worked explorations of the purely visual and sensorial, represented by the trilogy of poetic, non-narrative works that make up his remarkable Triptych (1983-85).

Over two nights, our mini-retrospective represents a snapshot of two major decades in Peter’s film-making career, the 70s and the 80s.

TUE 17 APR - 8:30 PM


A Woman of Our Time (1972, 26 mins, 16mm)

Struttin' the Mutton (1975, 17 mins, 16mm)

Flux (1970, 37 mins, 16mm)

Total = 80 min + Q&A

THU 19 APR - 8 PM


Triptych (new version):

My Belle (1983, 18 mins, digital)

Hey Marcel... (1984, 17 mins, digital)

Queen of the Night (1985, 19 mins, digital)


Fear of the Dark (1985, 56 mins, digital)

Total = 110 min + Q&A

My Belle (TRYPTYCH, 1983)

My Belle (TRYPTYCH, 1983)