Michael Thornhill

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Michael Thornhill (born 29 March 1941 in Sydney, Australia ) is a film producer, screenwriter, and director.


He has a background in freelance journalism and publishing including working as a film critic, he was a member of the WEA Film Study Group in the 1960s where he met writers Ken Quinnell and Frank Moorhouse. He wrote film articles on film for the WEA Film Study Group film journal Film Digest from 1965, he and Ken Quinnell published the film journal SCJ : The Sydney cinema journal from 1966–1968.[1] He was the film critic for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian (1969 to 1973).

Michael Thornhill has an extensive career in the Australian film industry, he is best known for his films The F.J. Holden (1977) and Between Wars (1974). He worked as a projectionist and film editor before turning to directing short films and documentaries in the late 1960s; some of his first films were short documentaries made for the Commonwealth Film Unit (now Film Australia) including The Esperance story (1968) and Cheryl and Kevin (1974).

He has directed many films with screenplays written by Frank Moorhouse including The American Poet's Visit (1969), The Girl from the Family of Man (1970) and The Machine Gun (1971), Between Wars (1974), The Everlasting Secret Family (1988) and the docudrama Who Killed Baby Azaria? (1983). His screenplays include The Esperance story (1968), Cheryl and Kevin (1974), and his feature film The Journalist (1979) , he has been the producer for many of his films including Between Wars (1974), The F.J. Holden (1977), The Ever-Lasting Secret Family (1988) and Who Killed Baby Azaria? (1983). In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was a director of the New South Wales Film Corporation, giving valuable support to films such as Hoodwink (1981). In the mid-1980s he produced several high-rating television programs such as The Great Gold Swindle (1984, executive producer) and Robbery (1985, director and producer).[2]


His film Between Wars (1974) was awarded 1976 Cinematographer of the Year by the Australian Cinematographers Society for the cinematographer Russell Boyd IMDB

Select filmography[edit]

  • Stainless Glass Screens (1969) – documentary
  • The Esperance Story (1969) – documentary
  • The American Poet's Visit (1969) – short – made with a budget of $900
  • Girl from the Family of Man (1970) – short – made for a budget of $4,000
  • The Machine Gun (1971) – short – made for a budget of $5,000[3]
  • Mister Fixit My Dad (1972) – documentary for Commonwealth Film Unit
  • Kevin and Cheryl (1972) – documentary for Commonwealth Film Unit
  • Between Wars (1974) – feature
  • Summer of Secrets (1976) – feature – producer only
  • The FJ Holden (1977) – feature
  • Harvest of Hate (1978) – TV movie
  • The Journalist (1979) – feature
  • The Disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain (1984) – TV movie
  • The Everlasting Secret Family (1988) – feature


  • David Stratton (1980). The last new wave : the Australian film revival. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. ISBN 0-207-14146-0.
  • Brian McFarlane; Geoff Mayer (1999). Ina Bertrand (ed.). The Oxford companion to Australian film. Melbourne, Australia ; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553797-1.


  1. ^ David Stratton The last new wave: the Australian film revival Sydney: Angus & Robertson 1980
  2. ^ Interview with Michael Thornhill, Signist, 2 November 1998 accessed 14 October 2012
  3. ^ Stratton p86

External links[edit]