A close-up of Judy Davis, her red hair blowing in the breeze, as she looks past us to the right hand side of the frame

My Brilliant Career

Gillian Armstrong | Australia | 1979

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Producer: Margaret Fink
Screenplay: Eleanor Witcombe, from
  the novel by Stella Miles Franklin
Cinematography: Donald McAlpine
Editor: Nicholas Beauman
Music: Nathan Waks
Judy Davis (Sybylla Melvyn)
Sam Neill (Harry Beecham)
Wendy Hughes (Aunt Helen)
Robert Grubb (Frank Hawdon)
Max Cullen (Mr McSwatt)
Aileen Britton (Grandma Bossier)
Peter Whitford (Uncle Julius)

Rating: G Runtime: 100 minutes

Our Australian Cinema series kicks off with My Brilliant Career, a classic of the Australian New Wave. Centred around a brilliant lead performance by Australian icon Judy Davis and with a supporting turn by our own Sam Neill, it was recently restored by the Australian Film and Sound Archive.

Based on the 1901 novel of the same name by Stella Miles Franklin, My Brilliant Career tells the story of a young woman, Sybylla Melvyn (Davis), who lives in rural Australia in the late 19th century. The film follows her life as she balances her love for two men and her desire for independence, education and a career in writing, which conflicts with the expectations and conventions of her family and society. It’s a coming-of-age story that reflects the struggle for women’s rights and freedom at the time.

It won several Australian film awards, was nominated for an Academy Award and played at Cannes. Gillian Armstorng has gone on to direct films in Hollywood including Little Women (1994) and Charlotte Grey (starring Cate Blanchett).

“There’s no wonder My Brilliant Career is cited as a milestone in Australian feminist cinema. It is a powerful rumination on atavistic Australia, sexism and classism, and a sensitive portrait of a woman destined to think outside the box… The film itself is a kind of free spirit, and one that has made an indelible print on Australian cinema.
Luke Buckmaster, The Guardian.


Apr 17 2023


6:15 pm - 7:55 pm