2006, 82 Minutes
“Almost everyone thinks they know who I was and, of course, everyone thinks they know who killed me...”
But what acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong reveals in this spirited and highly original documentary is that almost nothing about Florence Broadhurst was at it seemed. When she was found murdered in her studio in 1977, few guessed her age, let alone her origins. For invention and reinvention were the keys to this flamboyant design pioneer, whose signature use of colour and pattern has captured the world’s imagination.
Born into a farming family in outback Australia in 1899, by her mid-twenties she was a singer and dancer in Shanghai, setting up her own performing arts academy. By the 1930s, she ran a fashion boutique in London’s Mayfair under the name Madame Pellier, before sweeping into Sydney society with a whole new persona - as a painter and charity queen, with a husband (her second) and a son. But it was in her last incarnation that she really made her mark, shaking up conservative Australia with her bold, exotic wallpapers.
“I’d always been told that I was born before my time. Oh, surely to God, the times can just catch up.”
Now, more 100 years after her birth, her work has been rediscovered by the world’s leading fashion, interior and homeware designers and her prints are in huge demand internationally. The times have finally caught up with this glamorous, complicated, unconventional woman, whose brutal murder in 1977 has never been solved.
This is a celebration of the many lives of one larger-than-life woman - gutsy, head-strong, imposing, complicated, and almost impossibly glamorous. Told in a style that’s vibrant and unconventional, with more than a touch of humour and irreverence. A lot like Florence herself.
A Film Australia/Becker Entertainment Production produced in association with the NSW Film and Television Office and SBS Independent. A film by Gillian Armstrong. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, New South Wales Film and Television Office, SBS Independent.
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Runnning Time: 82 Minutes
Classification: PG. Consumer advice: Infrequent mild coarse language, mild themes.