Katie Ellis in Media International Australia:

"The insights offered through these interviews represent a significant contribution to the scholarship of Australian Screen culture. ... optimistically, French and Poole see the continuing significance of the AFI in a new era of audience-led screen culture. The proliferation of Web 2.0 technologies will allow audiences new avenues of filmmaking, viewing and commentary, and could see a return to the kind of culture that created the AFI in the first place."

Ellis, Katie. Shining a Light: 50 Years of the Australian Film Institute [Book Review] [online]. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 140, Aug 2011: 175-176.  ISSN: 1329-878X. [cited 03 Mar 12].

Tina Kaufman has completed a review of Shining A Light in ' Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine', No. 165, 2010, pp. 141-142.

A quote from her review:

"Culling many articles, quoting many sources and interviews, the authors have created a concise and comprehensive portrait of screen culture in
Australia over that period, together with an idea of what it could have been – and still could be". p.142.

Download the full review here.

A review by Ina Bertrand, Principal Fellow in Fine Arts, Classical Studies and Archaeology, Melbourne University (Australia) has was published in Issue 27 of 'Screening The Past'.

Her review states:

'The "AFI is where you can 'identify the Australian film industry - it is the locus of it - as well as the site of vital discourse.'

The authors set out to demonstrate the truth of this statement. ... [They] have clearly read extensively in the AFI archives, and consulted widely. ... it is one of the strengths of the book that the authors are not afraid to rattle the skeletons in the closet. ... The main polemic presented is the claim that film culture is the necessary ground on which a healthy film production industry rests, and they urge co-operation among film culture organisations towards this end. ... the major argument of the book, which I fully support - it is time that the AFI was recognised for its vital contribution to Australian film culture, and through that to the Australian film industry, which does not (and cannot) exist in a cultural vacuum".


The AFI commemorated the launch of Shining a Light: 50 Years of the AFI with these comments:

Describing it as a 'surprising history,' David Tiley wrote this about the book in Screen Hub 25/11/2009:

'the story is full of surprising names - who, for instance, remembers the altruism of George Miller, who set up the Byron Kennedy Award, arranged for Steven Spielberg to contribute to the fund and remains its guiding angel to this day?'

Paul Kalina wrote about the book in The Melbourne Age on 3/12/2009. p 22:

'Shining a Light: 50 Years of the AFI, ... a scholarly tome by Melbourne academic Lisa French and filmmaker Mark Poole... [it] isn't a self-congratulatory, coffee-table book one might expect on such an occasion. Rather, they've traced the local film and television sector through the often turbulent history of the organisation, relying on interviews with many of the key players... [it] also includes an indispensible listing of every award [and nomination] handed out since 1958.'

Ina Bertrand, Principal Fellow, Melbourne University, cited the book in her recent work Some Early History of the Australian Film Institute: A Memoir of the 1970s’, Senses of Cinema, Issue 26, 2009.

'The Australian Film Institute (AFI) has always struggled to find its niche within Australian film culture. It has also always had financial difficulties. These two issues intersect at the point where the AFI applies for funding from government agencies: if the agencies are unsure of the function of the AFI, or disagree with any of its stated policies or activities, they reduce funding. This has been the situation from as long as I have known the AFI, and is well-documented in the new book by Lisa French and Mark Poole.'

The AFI have included several pages at their web site:
'Shining a Light is "an insider’s story, a celebration, and a way of giving a voice to the many stories that comprise the history of the organisation' ... a book that is "really about screen culture, “the other side of the coin from production, which is always highlighted. The story of the AFI is the story of people who were much more interested in the audience.' Read more here:

Tina Kaufman has cited the book in her recent article on screen culture:

'The AFI’s first 50 years have been captured in a book, Shining a Light, by Lisa French and Mark Poole, ... It does contain a very interesting and comprehensive chapter on screen culture...Using many sources, articles and interviews, they have compiled a concise but substantial portrait of screen culture, concluding with an idea of what it could have been—and still could be.'

Click on the link below for more:

Tina Kaufman, 'Australian screen culture: the hard yards', 'RealTime' issue #96 April-May 2010 p. 16 at:

Download the original Press Release here:




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