The Trials of William Dobell

Great Australian Artists

Year: 2016, 58 mins - PAL
Code: SS-Dobell

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This documentary examines the 1944 trial of the painter William Dobell, for "fraudulently" winning the Archibald prize for portraiture. An attempt was made to muzzle the artist and dictate to him what and how he could paint. 

The battle was bitterly fought and developed into a clash of cultures and ideas as much as a dispute about a particular work of art.

Former Portrait Gallery director Jeffrey Sayers gives us the political context, placing Dobell's trial at the centre of the struggle between reaction and reform.

The film asks: Was the trial justified, and what were the consequences for Dobell's art and life?

With the participation of fellow artist and friend Margaret Olley, curators Barry Pearce and Hendrik Kolenberg, and former Supreme Court of NSW Justice Roddy Meagher, one of Australia's great cultural moments is imaginatively brought to life, telling us why it matered and still does.


Directed and Written by: Eugene Schlusser

Cast: Ernie Grey, Justin Haris-Parslow, Bruce Kerr, Adam May

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