Past Futures: On Guard Past Event

Presented by The Capitol — RMIT University
Film still from 'On Guard'. In black and white, two people hold flashlights and walk through a cement corridor.
On Guard
Interior of the geometric Theatre ceiling inside The Capitol.
The Capitol
Photo by John Gollings.
Exterior shot of The Capitol featuring pedestrians, cyclists and trees in front of the building with sign lit up.
The Capitol
Photo by John Gollings.

Set in Sydney, Susan Lambert’s politically charged feminist thriller On Guard (1984) follows four women on a mission to sabotage a supercomputer holding ten years’ worth of data on IVF research. On Guard saw a future (and responded to a recent past) in which women take back control of their reproductive systems, and livelihoods. Informed by the burgeoning women’s movement of the 1970s, the film posited a new world of radical feminism with the scrappy aesthetics of underground punk cinema. With Australian women recently rising up yet again with tales of high-level institutional violation, rape and other crimes recently reported, this film is as urgent and welcomed as ever. 

On Guard screens as part of a double feature alongside The Handmaid’s Tale (1990). Audiences are encouraged to stay for both films, but welcome to view only one or the other.

1984, 50 min, Unrated 18+, DCP, Australia, English, Director Susan Lambert, Cast Alice Ansara, Martha Ansara, Mystery Carnage Courtesy Digby Duncan

Early arrivals are invited to explore the exhibitions in the upstairs Salon, Lounge and Loft (first in best dressed for exhibition viewing prior to the film due to capacity limits).

This film is part of
The Capitol‘s Past Futures film program curated by Ghita Loebenstein and Michelle Carey.


Dystopias, Utopias and Back to Futurism on Screen

What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century.

To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being.

Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures. What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein, Creative Producer, The Capitol – RMIT University

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Concession $18 / Full $20 +BF


Sat 27 Mar 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Doors open: 4.00pm / ON GUARD screens: 5.00pm (51 minutes running time) / THE HANDMAID'S TALE screens: 6.30pm (109 minutes running time)
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The Capitol — RMIT University
The Capitol, 113 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


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