A short documentary about pioneering oral historian Wendy Lowenstein and her involvement in the Australian folk music scene will be available for free viewing in a webinar on 8 October 2023.
The 25-minute documentary ‘What Wendy found’ was produced by her children Martie and Richard Lowenstein. They are currently fundraising with a view to turning the documentary into a feature film.
Wendy Lowenstein recorded interviews with over 800 everyday people from around Australia over a period of 40 years from 1965. Her interviewees told her of their struggles to obtain better working and living conditions. She not only recorded their stories but wrote about them in several books.
Wendy’s interviews and manuscripts are held in a number of collecting institutions throughout Australia including the National Library of Australia. For more information go to: http://www.wendylowenstein.com/.
How to access the webinar and documentary
The webinar will be presented by Friends of the National Film and Sound Archive on 8 October 2023 from 1-2.30pm (UTC+10). Viewing is free but you need to book at Trybooking: https://www.trybooking.com/CKYZU.
About the documentary
The documentary tells the story of Wendy Lowenstein and her involvement in Australian folk music which led to a 1969 year-long family camping trip around Australia. The trip saw Wendy collect outback memories and early oral history, now preserved in the National Library of Australia.
Martie Lowenstein received the 2023 National Folk Fellowship from the National Library and the National Folk Festival to produce a film, with her brother, Melbourne filmmaker Richard Lowenstein, director of ‘Dogs in Space’, ‘Mystify’ and award winning INXS music videos.
Their family was immersed in the Australian folk music revival and collecting oral history. They were both ‘volunteers’ at the first National Folk festival in Melbourne in 1967. Martie leads several community singing groups.
The film is a 25 minute archival documentary about the cultural history of Australia as seen through the prismatic eye of two remarkable women, oral historian Wendy Lowenstein and her close collaborator and friend, dance historian Shirley Andrews. Both strong and determined woman, passionate in their beliefs and struggling against the stereotypical roles available to women in Australia’s post-war era, and as such, are distinctive role-models for women today. It is a story told via a unique archive; songs, footage, recordings, photos and audio interviews that illustrate their pivotal role in preserving what we can now term as an aspect of our ‘National Soul’. Wendy and Shirley’s cultural and political journey as activists, collaborators and collectors formed in the idealistic post-war years of Melbourne’s New Theatre, and Eureka Youth League both play a key role in the formation of Australia’s seminal folk music, folklore, traditional dance, and oral history movements.
The quest to make a feature length film
Martie and Richard Lowenstein are seeking tax deductible donations in an effort to extend their 25 minute documentary to feature length. To donate please visit the:
- Documentary Australia website at https://documentaryaustralia.com.au/project/formidable-women/.
Richard Lowenstein is known for his recent feature film about Micheal Hutchence and his cult film about Melbourne’s post-punk era. Find out more about his films: