Weir’s films attempt to breach universality as well as provide an inward-looking quest for identity in Australian cinema. There’s no doubt that – at least where two of his most prominent home-grown exports are concerned – this is achieved rather succinctly and successfully. Perhaps the inherent historicity of the works – Gallipoli being set during World War I and Picnic at Hanging Rock in 1900 – adds to the distance and nostalgia, generating the ability to forgive certain representational anomalies that would stick out in modern films. That doesn’t mean surrogate characters like Frank and Sara – decidedly modern for their time – don’t exist as the audience’s crutch to a closer reality.
The Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit operated in Sydney from 1953 to 1958 and was the first film production unit within a trade union anywhere in the world. The Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit offered an alternative to the mainstream media of the day. They made 14 films on subjects that other production units would never tackle. Perhaps the Unit's most significant film was released in 1955 and was entitled The Hungry Miles . This film highlighted the working conditions on Sydney's expanse of wharves, and the struggles endured by the wharfies and their families - most of whom lived near the wharves and in slum conditions in inner-city suburbs such as Surry Hills, Pyrmont and Woolloomooloo. The Hungry Miles received wide acclaim and won an award at the 1957 Warsaw Youth Festival. In a fascinating 'recycling' incident, some of the Unit's dramatised footage was (mis)used in the ABC mini-series The True Believers and labelled as 'archival footage' and not attributed to the Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit.
My Name's McGooley, What's Yours? was a popular sitcom of the 1960s. Among the best loved Australian sitcoms was Mother & Son , about a divorcee (played by Garry McDonald) who had moved back into the suburban home of his mother ( Ruth Cracknell ). Sitcom Kingswood Country depicted the shifting face of Australia in the 1980s with bigotted patriarch "Ted" Bullpitt ( Ross Higgins ) having to come to terms with his migrant son-in-law. Acropolis Now further reflected the ongoing demographic changes, set amongst the inner working of a Greek Cafe with a cast of exaggerated "Aussie-Greeks": Nick Giannopoulos as "Jim" and Mary Coustas as the memorable " Effie ". Ethnic humour also formed a central plank of the comedy in SBS television's offbeat Pizza TV series, which included regular Arab and Asian characters and presented pizza delivery in the suburbs of Sydney as "one of the most dangerous jobs in the world".