Documenting the lives of people who forced Australia to wake up to gay rights in the 1970s was a profound experience for a Ballarat filmmaking duo.
Lucinda Horrocks and Jary Nemo, who together form Wind & Sky Productions, said that creating Out of the Closets was one of the most incredible experiences of their documentary filmmaking lives.
As Ms Horrocks explained, the era was horrific for gay people in Australia – they could be arrested or sent to “therapy” aimed at rewiring their brains – à la A Clockwork Orange.
The film’s interviewees are now aged in their mid 60s to 70s, with many of them having led notable lives, such as cinema studies professor Barbara Creed and activist Dennis Altman.
“It was like sitting in a room with a bunch of people who were the birth of our nation,” Mr Nemo said.
Ms Horrocks said the gay activists of the 1970s were mainly university students from University of Melbourne who were strongly influenced by the American civil rights movements of the 1960s.
“They came out publicly and that was a big thing for a group of young people, mainly uni students, to do,” she said.
“They arranged all these marches and demonstrations.”
“They would ‘liberate’ trains (with) cross-dressing and gender confusion.
“They ‘liberated’ Myer. They went in and bounced on the beds and threw balloons.
“This was at a time when you could be arrested, you could lose your job.”
Ms Horrocks said their film subjects weren’t aware of just how influential they’d been on Australian society.
“They never thought as that period as being the start of something,” she said.
“They did change the world and the way think about all sorts of rights issues – disability rights, equal opportunity and anti-discrimination – they were so influential.”
Ms Horrocks and Mr Nemo have also curated a digital exhibition of the activists including images and Barbara Creed’s Super 8 footage.
Out of the Closets will launch at the Castlemaine Film Festival this Saturday, October 8.
From October 19, the film and digital exhibition will be launched online via the Culture Victoria website and can be viewed at www.cv.vic.gov.au