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Henry Walter Barnett

Henry Walter Barnett (1862-1934) might be regarded as Australia's first director of motion pictures.

Marius 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 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 Tuesday, 3 November 1896, with Barnett in charge, Sestier filmed the Melbourne Cup, and even managed to get a long shot of the running. The Governor appeared, among other worthies - and Barnett himself. 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.

Barnett directed the films while Sestier operated the cinématographe, and in the Melbourne Cup film Barnett is seen on camera encouraging spectators to wave their hats as the horses cross the finish line. (Wikipedia)

Recently, a new-found snippet of information triggered a reassessment of the ownership and authorship of the four 1897 cricket films of the English team playing at the Association Cricket Ground in Sydney. These films, customarily attributed to the Australian photographer Henry Walter Barnett (1862-1934), are recognised as the earliest series of cricket films produced. Unfortunately only one of them remains, and it is held by the British Film Institute.

References and Links

Jackson, Sally nd, 'Do Frenchmen play cricket? Investigating the first cricket films', NFSA.

Shirley, Graham & Brian Adams 1989, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, revised edition, Currency, Melbourne (first edition 1983).

Wikipedia page - which does not reveal whether the photo is a selfie or not

Garry Gillard | New: 15 October, 2018 | Now: 12 March, 2022