Smart St. Films

Smart St. has been making award winning films since 1969 when a group of kids at University High School in Melbourne got together to make a movie. Lying about their ages they incorporated a company which still runs today. Smart St. may not be the biggest but it’s now one of the oldest film production and distribution companies in Australia. They break the ice for others to follow. Longtime Bondi residents, the two principals, the late Esben Storm and Haydn Keenan, won two of the three categories at the Sydney Film Festival short comp. and aged 21 and 20 respectively and immediately set about making a feature film.

The rebirth of Australian cinema was underway in the early 1970s and most Australian filmmakers were making tits and arse or interminable period melodrama while the rest of the world was in the middle of a cultural revolution and shooting hard hitting social drama and documentaries. Smart St was more connected to the international scene than slow pans across the wide brown land shit. The feature film, 27A, was a tough little picture set in a Queensland mental asylum as an alcoholic attempted to prove his eligibility to be released. Based on section 27A of the Queensland Mental Health Act the film was integral to the repeal of the inhumane law. Against bigger, richer competition the film won best picture and best actor for star Robert McDarra making Haydn Keenan the youngest winner of the Award in the history of the AACTAs.

Just to keep things on the straight and narrow they made MOTION PICTURE during the production of 27A and entered it in the short film comp at the Sydney Film Festival. At the 50th anniversary of the fest a couple of years ago festival Director David Stratton said he had programmed 9000 films during his time as director and without doubt the most offensive picture ever was Motion Picture. It runs 8 minutes, cleared the Rose bay wintergarden of 3200 people during its screening and caused the sponsor of the competition to withdraw; creating, the following year, The Dendy Awards. What’s in it? Let’s just say it’s a provocative art discussion starter that you’ll never forget seeing.

Recently, their four part ASIO series PERSONS OF INTEREST lifted the lid on the intelligence service’s use of file to aid the Liberal Party and won the Film Critics Circle Award for best documentary and was nominated for a Walkley and the Premier’s history prize.

Smart St. has continued to make provocative contemporary projects and has moved into distribution where undiscovered gems, Australian classics and TV programming get the care and air they deserve. Last year in the face of Govt. refusal, they crowd funded the restoration of NINGLA-ANA a unique feature documentary about the establishment of the Aboriginal tent embassy which was then released in cinemas nationally to rave reviews. Currently they have FACEDOWN a documentary about IRA crimes, running in theatres across Ireland and creating a storm of debate about the truth of history. Now working on LOOTED, based on Geoffrey Robertson KC’s analysis of stolen cultural treasures residing in museums across Europe and America. Smart St keeps on keeping on.

To see the full story here it is: and to stay in touch with the ongoing saga like the Smart St Facebook page and for the visual fun and games the Instagram page