Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.

Some material may contain terms that reflect authors’ views, or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded, but may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of AIATSIS. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Our Film collection contains more than 5,000 video titles and 6.5 million feet of film and includes published film and video titles, including prints of historical ethnographic films and other documentaries.

moving image library items

The earliest original material in the collection is from Charles Mountford and the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land of 1948. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS) Film Unit, which operated between 1961 and 1991, produced many of the many of the films in the collection and represent one of the largest assembly of ethnographic films created in the world within that time. Famous titles such as Kim McKenzie’s ‘Full Circle’ and ‘Giving it a Go’, Roger Sandall’s ‘Camels and the Pitjantjara’ plus David and Judith MacDougall’s ‘Collum Calling Canberra’ can all be found within the collection.

Our Film collection reflects changes in attitudes to anthropological filmmaking over time and includes more recent works of drama or documentary by directors like Rachel Perkins and Warwick Thornton. The Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program allowed 26 titles to be added the collection from independent filmmakers, including the original source materials, which has allowed the original curatorial role of the former AIAS Film Unit to continue. Amateur films documenting all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies also form an important part of the collection, including recordings of ceremonies, music and oral histories.

moving image reel item

The most recent additions to the Film collection are amongst the most exciting, including copies of TV programs from CAAMA and Imparja TV, because they are created and produced by Indigenous Australians featuring local languages as well as earlier ethnographic footage.

We also record and store footage from research seminars, corporate activities and other important events to keep a record of our history. Access to the collection is available for a wide range of purposes including documentaries, the establishment of keeping places, family history research and archival preservation of unique film and video material for future generations.

Last reviewed: 15 Jul 2016

AIATSIS acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community.

We pay our respects to elders past and present.

Film | Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies


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