Australian Centre for the Moving Image
History and museums
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is a state-of-the-art facility purpose-built for the preservation, exhibition and promotion of Victorian, Australian and International screen content in all forms. It is located in Federation Square, in Melbourne, Australia. During the 2013-14 financial year, 1.3 million people visited the ACMI, the second-highest attendance of any gallery or museum in Australia, with only the nearby National Gallery of Victoria attracting more, but with two sites.
The ACMI started life as the State Film Centre of Victoria in 1946.
In the 1950s, the State Film Centre was involved in producing a number of projects for television, then a new medium in Australia. It also played a role as an archive of Australian films, such as The Sentimental Bloke (1919) and On Our Selection (1920).
During the 1960s, the State Film Centre provided advice on film treatments, production, scripts and distribution outlets to local filmmakers. In 1969, the centre assumed management of the newly constructed State Film Theatre, providing a facility for exhibiting material not screened in commercial cinemas.
In the 1970s, the centre began acquiring examples of student films as well as those made by the newly vibrant Australian film industry, such as Homesdale (1971) by Peter Weir, Stork (1971) and Alvin Purple (1973) by Tim Burstall, and The Devil's Playground (1976) by Fred Schepisi.
In 1988, the State Film Centre Education Program was set up. The program provided screenings for VCE students, based on core texts, and in-service days for their teachers.
In 1993, a Victorian state government report reaffirmed the viability of a proposal for an Australian Centre for the Moving Image. In July 1997, following an open, international and two-stage design competition, Lab Architecture Studio (based in London at the time), in association with their joint venture partners, Bates Smart architects, was announced as the winner. Federation Square was to be a new civic space, built above the Jolimont railyards, to mark the celebration of Australia's Centenary of Federation.
On 1 January 2002, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image was officially established by the Film Act 2001 (Victoria). The first stage was opened in October, with two exhibitions, Deep Space: Sensation & Immersion and Ngarinyin Pathways Dulwan, running in ACMI's Screen Gallery. A few weeks later, the ACMI Cinemas officially opened.
In September 2009, Mediatheque and the Screen Worlds gallery opened. The Screen Worlds exhibition was opened by Cate Blanchett, who loaned her Oscar for best supporting actress for her part as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. Screen Worlds: The Story of Film, Television and Digital Culture is a free and permanent exhibition space constructed to educate the public about the moving image, a museum about moving pictures. The Mediatheque is a partnership with the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), which provides a space with 12 viewing booths where people can drop in and watch films, television clips, and new media and artworks from the NFSA and ACMI collections.
From 1992, John J. Smithies was Director of the State Film Centre of Victoria, until its merger with Film Victoria in 1997 formed Cinemedia. At Cinemedia, Smithies was Deputy Director, with prime responsibility for developing the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. He became the first director and CEO of ACMI in March 2002. He was responsible for opening the new public facilities in October 2002. After a period of turmoil, with the organisation over budget, Smithies left ACMI in 2004, and later said the facility had been forced to open while "under-funded" by the Victorian Government.
Tony Sweeney was appointed director and CEO of the ACMI in 2005. Before his move to Australia, he had been the Deputy Director of the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television (UK), and focused on developing the Museum's brand profile and content strategies. He directed the Museum's Imaging Frontiers masterplan re-development, which generated record visitor numbers and international critical acclaim. The Museum is now seen as one of the leading international centres for culture and learning of its kind in the world. At the ACMI he oversaw record organisational growth, performance and visitation, and a prolonged period of sustained success and achievement. Having spent ten years in the role, Sweeney resigned in order to return to his family in Britain.
Katrina Sedgwick took up the position in February 2015.
ACMI has two main cinemas that are equipped to play every film, video and digital video format, with the most extensive projection facilities in the southern hemisphere. THX certified sound systems allow high quality attention to acoustics. Cinema 1 seats 168, and Cinema 2 seats 390.
ACMI's weekly and monthly film programs include:
ACMI also regularly profiles actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, and film genres through its retrospective seasons and screenings. Highlights have included seasons on Serge Gainsbourg, Dario Argento, William Klein, Xavier Dolan, John Cassavetes, Claudia Cardinale and Jim Henson. Genres have included Ozploitation, East German Cinema, Monsters, Ghouls and Melancholy Misfits in conjunction with the Tim Burton exhibition.
ACMI undertakes partnerships with a variety of Film Festivals; Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Korean Film Festival, the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, Little Big Shots, the Melbourne International Animation Festival and more.
In ACMI's Studios, Live Events take place, such as A Moon Safari by Steam Bicycle and Kaleidoscope! Kids Animation
Open from 18 September 2009, Screen Worlds is an evolving permanent exhibition exploring all aspects of the moving image using objects, footage and artistic installations. Screen Worlds explores the story of the moving image through a number of different sections - Emergence, Voices, Sensation, Games Lab and Kids Space.
The Screen Worlds exhibition hosts a number of 'Immersive Experiences'(interactive displays), including Timeslice (inspired by The Matrix), Ty the Tasmanian Tiger Zoetrope, The Faulty Fandangle (created by Oscar®-nominated Anthony Lucas), an installation by Anthony McCall, and many more.
The screen gallery, renamed Gallery 1 when Gallery 2 was introduced in 2009, was built along the entire length of what was previously Princes Bridge railway station. It is a subterranean gallery for experimentation with the moving image. Video art, installations, interactives, sound art, net art and screen related objects are all regularly exhibited in this space.
With the exception of a dance work that formed part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Gallery 1 is usually either hosting an exhibition, or installing the next one. The exhibitions alternate between in-house and touring, and between free and ticketed.
Open from 18 September 2009, Gallery 2 is a smaller, more flexible gallery than Gallery 1.
Australian Mediatheque, coordinated by ACMI and the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) has multiple screening stations with access to works from ACMI and the NFSA. Admission is free.
Studio 1 is a production and educational amphitheatre which can accommodate everything from multimedia performances to television broadcasts, and is equipped with video projection, video conferencing, web casting and online facilities.
ACMI also houses a digital studio for hands-on workshops and production programs. Participants can access the technology, and develop the skills, to produce their own moving image work.
The ACMI Shop, located on the entry level next to the Tickets & Information Desk, stocks exhibition catalogues, books, DVDs, toys, cards and gifts.
The Video Garden was an outdoor gallery that led people from the Flinders Street side of the building to the main entrance. Exhibitions included Random Encounters, Gooey by the Lycette Bros, and Blast Off.
The Memory Grid was a display allowing access to over 100 hours of film that were recorded by ordinary Australians, independent filmmakers, students, community-based practitioners and participants in ACMI hands-on production workshops. Much of the content in the Memory Grid had either never been displayed outside, or had been displayed only once on community television. Further, the Memory Grid contained a large collection of animated and interactive works, and actively accepted work from the public for display.
Screen It is a yearly competition for primary and secondary school students with a love of filmmaking hosted by ACMI. Screen It has 6 categories: Primary Live Action, Primary Animation, Primary Videogame, Secondary Live Action, Secondary Animation and Secondary Videogame. Each year there is a theme the films must be based on, past themes including Change (2015) and Reflection (2014). Usually around November or December there is a Red Carpet Awards Gala for the finalists in which they announce winners and the next year's theme.
The Games Lab was ACMI's display area for interactive video games. It celebrated the past, present and future of games and promoted this popular form of the moving image as a reflection of Australian culture.
In 2003, ACMI commissioned an interactive game-based, site specific installation called AcmiPark, which was exhibited in the Games Lab. AcmiPark replicates and abstracts the real world architecture of Federation Square. It also houses highly innovative mechanisms for interactive, multiplayer sound and musical composition.
The Games Lab exhibited the Best of the Independent Games Festival for 2005, 2006 and 2007. In early 2007, Hits of the 80s profiled Melbourne's Beam Software and the secret history of Australia's place in the rise and rise of the video game. In 2005 an exhibition was dedicated to Sonic the Hedgehog called Sonic the Hedgehog: Icon of our Times.
The Games Lab has now been incorporated into the Screen Worlds exhibition space.
ACMI has a strong online presence, with regular updates being made to the ACMI website and a dedicated ACMI Channel for blogs, podcasts, videos and news. ACMI also has a number of Online Projects which encourage user-generated content. These sites include 15 Second Place, Generator and the Educators Lounge.
ACMI have increased their touring program over the past few years. Beginning with Mary and Max, which toured regional Victoria, ACMI then followed by showing the 2011 Best of the Independent Games Festival in Sydney and Brisbane. ACMI's first original exhibition in the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series, Game Masters, was seen in New Zealand (2013) and Sydney (2014) after its ACMI season. Further tours have been announced for The Lost Thing (2015–17) and DreamWorks Animation (2015–20), which included over 400 works of art, including original hand-drawn character sketches, 3D marquettes of locations and characters, storyboards, interactive displays that allow you to play with DreamWorks' animation technology, and a 180 degree film display that takes viewers on a journey from script pages and drawings through to a fully rendered 3D world.