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John Hughes Short Films

Films by John Hughes

Year: 1971-2004, 122 mins
Code: JH-ShortPt2
ISBN: 978-1-921895-17-3

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Six short films directed by Australian documentary filmmaker John Hughes.

Nowhere Game, 24 mins, 1971  /  Cybernetik Synergy: The Kinetic Art of John Hansen, 19 mins, 1974   /  November Eleven, 18 mins, 1979  /  Is It Working? George Seelaf for the Record, 48 mins, 1985  /  Howard's History, 5 mins, 2004  /  Howard's Blemish, 5 mins, 2004

Part 1

Nowhere Game -- A ‘cinema verite’ account of illicit drug use in Melbourne’s inner city; a critical response to the dominant media sensationalism of the early 1970s, advocating that illicit drug be approached as a health issue rather than as crime. Made in collaboration with the Rod Patterson of the Buoyancy Foundation in Melbourne, and journalist Martin Goddard.
Cybernetic Synergy: The Kinetic Art of John Hansen
– The film explores some of John Hansen’s early moving image electronic art and kinetic sculpture. The second part of the film performs Hansen’s remarkable ‘psychedelic’, kinetic abstractions.
November Eleven
– The first in a series of three ‘video art’ and installation projects (1979-1984) made in collaboration with visual artist Peter Kennedy. The series was made in the aftermath of Australia’s ‘constitutional coup’, when on November 11, 1975 the Whitlam Labor government was dismissed by the Governor General, Sir John Kerr. The video deploys found materials (dada-like) from radio and television from this moment, in a form later known as ‘scratch video’, to evoke an oppositional polemic from the ephemeral detritus of broadcasting. (Video: John Hughes, Andrew Scollo, Audio: John Scott, Robert Moore.)

Part 2

Is It Working? George Seelaf for the Record – Meat Worker’s Union executive George Seelaf was an inspired and tireless advocate for the development of arts and cultural activities within the labour movement. This 'archival' film for the Australia Council explores aspects of his contribution, providing an ‘index to sources’ and an implicit commentary on film biography.
Howard’s History
- "Questions here at stake are bigger than the small hearts that have concocted the ten point scam" Noel Pearson, Reconciliation Convention, May 2004. Noel Pearson's compelling deconstruction of John Howard's narrow view of Australian history is startlingly clear in speeches during the Reconciliation Convention in Melbourne in 1997.
Howard’s Blemish
- When John Howard famously 'lost it' during his speech formally opening the Reconciliation Conference in Melbourne in May 1997, and audiences turned their backs as he spoke, he used the word 'blemish' to describe the significance of Indigenous dispossession and frontier violence in colonial Australia. With the help of Judith Brett, Howard's Blemish speculates on what is at stake in the Prime Minister's choice of words.

Director: John Hughes

John Hughes is one of Australia’s most respected documentary (and drama) film directors, his work having won many awards. The films are usually Australian in orientation, examining art, cultural politics and history.  The work is often intensely research driven; the films are serious investigations into their material. Also they have cinematic creative flair.  His credits are numerous, starting in the early ‘70s with short films such as Nowhere Game, through to acclaimed documentaries in the ‘80s such as Film-Work, to the narrative feature What I Have Written in the ‘90s, and onto the recent award-winning documentaries The Archive Project (2006) and Indonesia Calling: Joris Ivens In Australia (2009).

Hughes was honored with Film Australia’s coveted Stanley Hawes Award, for Achievement In Documentary in 2006, and the inaugural Joan Long Award from the Australian and New Zealand Film History Association (2006).

Nowhere Game
-- Winner, AFI Award (Bronze), 1972.
November Eleven
– Television Society of Australia ‘Penguin’ Award, 1979

John Hughes has a unique film style.  He layers images and texts using a Dadaist technique to provoke a critical reading of the film.  This makes his films complex to watch because they work outside a familiar film language and do not meet our expectations.  Hughes likes to challenge the viewer on all levels.” – Catherine Gough-Brady, Dox Magazine, Winter 2009.

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