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The Great Strike of 1917 on film

Crowds at Central Police Court at Liverpool Street during trial of strike leaders on conspiracy charges (SLNSW a2809)
See event description for details on how to connect.

Wednesday 1 September from 1pm to 2pm

In 1917, a prolific but little-known filmmaker documented one of Australia’s largest industrial conflicts using the emerging medium of moving footage.

The Great Strike of 1917 erupted on the NSW railways and tramways in August 1917 in response to a new way of monitoring worker productivity during wartime.

The Great Strike film was released in October 1917, screening only once in NSW before being censored and suppressed. In the centenary year of the strike, surviving fragments were reconstructed, to follow the film’s original sequence. Originally an hour long, the reconstructed film runs for 16 minutes.

The restored film was a key element of the exhibition ‘1917: The Great Strike’, presented by the City of Sydney and Carriageworks in July-August 2017. The reconstructed film was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2019.

Laila will show excerpts from the film, to illustrate how the film was pieced back together, and to explore the threat and promise of new mediums of representation in the early 20th century.

Laila Ellmoos

Laila Ellmoos is a professional historian who is passionate about communicating history through exhibitions, talks and the written word. She is a historian at the City of Sydney, and a long-standing member of the Professional Historians Association of NSW & ACT. 

Other events in this series:

Interpreting the Great Strike of 1917, Wednesday 25 August, 1-2pm

Remembering and forgetting the Great Strike, Wednesday 8 September, 12-1pm

Contact event organiser

City of Sydney



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