Hughes, John

As a writer, director and producer mainly in creative documentary, John Hughes’ work is usually Australian in orientation, examining art, cultural politics and history.

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The work begins with engagement in the social world, and is driven by creative exploration. His film work since the late 1970s includes periods of teaching, commissioning (SBS Independent 1998-2001), Juries (IDFA 2001, Pacific Meridian, Russia, 2004) filmmaking, ‘video art’, installation and advocacy. Film-Work Norma Disher, 1958 The nature of the work over time might be categorized according to abiding interests. As a writer-director engaging with aspects of Australian race relations, film, history and Indigenous rights works would include sponsored films like Guwana (23 mins, 1982) Galiamble (23 mins, 1982), Moments Like These (23 mins, 1989) and independent films like After Mabo (84 mins, 1997), River of Dreams (52 mins, 2000) and the ‘micro docs’ Howard’s History (5 mins, 2004) and Howard’s Blemish (5 mins, 2004). Works engaging with the Australian labor movement would include a number of sponsored training and health and safety films for a variety of trade unions in the mid '80s, How does it strike you, Changing Schools, Acceptable Risk, and the independent films Film-Work (43 mins, 1981), Is It Working?: George Seelaf for the Record (50 mins, 1985) and the hybrid Traps (96 mins, 1986). These films bring together Australian labor history, film and the ‘cultural front’, as do The Archive Project (98 mins, 2006) and Indonesia Calling: Joris Ivens in Australia (90 mins, 2009). There is an online sponsored history of 60 years of government filmmaking (2004) that intersects in various ways with what amounts to a trilogy around Australian independent film and the early Cold War (Film-Work, The Archive Project, Indonesia Calling: Joris Ivens in Australia) The Archive Project at ACMI 2006 A very productive collaboration with Betty Churcher resulted over a ten-year period (1998-2008) in a series of popular television arts programs, and a wonderfully instructive work experience. This work began with a series of five minute ‘micro-docs’ written and presented by Betty Churcher (and produced by John Lewis), called Take Five (ABC TV Arts), that was followed in 2004 with four half hours The Art of War (Film Australia/SBS), and then series one (2005) and series two (2007) of ‘micro docs’, Hidden Treasures (Film Australia/ABC TV Arts). Most recently in this strand is An Unstoppable Force: John Olsen with Betty Churcher, Film Australia/ABC TV Arts (2008). There is a cinema feature What I Have Written (102 mins, Competition Berlin 1996); One Way Street: Fragments for Walter Benjamin, 54 mins, 1992; All That Is Solid, 54 mins (gallery, cinema, television), 1988, and works crossing over to gallery installations (November Eleven, 1979, Work in Progress, 1981, On Sacred Land, 1984, The Archive Project, ACMI version, 2006) There are Super-8 films, but not for a while.


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