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Frenchman Maurice Sestier (1862-1934) may be regarded as the first cinematographer to work in Australia in that he shot, processed, and exhibited the first moving film shot in Australia.
Sestier held the sole franchise for Lumière equipment, and his first project in Australia was in late September and early October 1896, when, together with (Henry) Walter Barnett, his new business partner, he shot scenes around Sydney Harbour, including a short documentary film called Passengers Alighting from Ferry 'Brighton' at Manly, which is still in existence.
On 31 October 1896, Sestier filmed scenes at the AJC Derby at Flemington, and footage of that still exists - including the short excerpt on this doco.
The following Tuesday, 3 November 1896, Sestier filmed the Melbourne Cup, and even managed to get a long shot of the running of the race. The Governor appeared, among other worthies. The film was preserved in suitable storage in Paris, so it is all still in good condition. It premiered at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne, then ran at the Criterion Theatre in Sydney for three months.
Sestier returned to France in 1897 and continued to work for Lumière.
The photo of Sestier was taken by Barnett.
Shirley, Graham & Brian Adams 1989, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, revised edition, Currency, Melbourne (first edition 1983).
See also: history.
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