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Michael Hutak

Author 
Andrew Frost

Michael Hutak was a key figure in the Super 8 filmmaking scene in Sydney during the 1980s. Alongside his prodigious output in film Hutak was also a writer for numerous cinema magazines, as well as producing numerous catalogue essays and journal articles. Working as a visual artist Hutak exhibited in public and artist-run galleries, and was a curator of film programs and gallery exhibitions. Hutak was a member of the Sydney Super 8 Film Group and was involved in the organisation of the group’s operations, its annual film festival and publications. 

Early films such as Never in a Million Years (1983) and Alibhai (1985) were marked by Hutak’s interest in French New Wave cinema, combining its aura of romantic dispossession with a world-weary viewpoint of Australian culture. Never In A Million Years contrasted a soundtrack of Australian sporting triumphalism over images of empty and boarded-up shops. Alibhai was a classic spy story plot of espionage and escape from an “occupied zone” shot at a Sydney race track. Images derived from sport, especially horse racing, would reappear throughout Hutak’s films. 

Hutak was also a part of the Metaphysical TV group of Super 8 filmmakers who combined appropriated footage taken from a variety of sources such as Hollywood feature films, television programs and other such material shot from TV screens. Combined with remixed soundtracks from a similarly eclectic range of sources, Hutak’s ‘MTV’ films — including Immortal Turf, All My Life (both 1986) and Macbeth’s Greatest Hits (1987) — were tightly constructed collages of various source materials highlighting the delirious ironies of pop culture. Hutak made a number of films in collaboration with Ben Crawford including Cruisin’ For a Bruisin’ — A Program for Radicality (1984), Spinout-takes and War Crimes 1984 (both 1985). These projects sat in a sometimes uneasy space between philosophical treatise, pop art provocation and rock star posing and, like Hutak’s solo work, combined original footage and appropriated materials. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Hutak produced a number of video works including World View and additional dialogue by ... (both 1989) and Deposition (1993). His most recent project Moral Fiction (1994) took the form of a documentary interviewing people from all walks of life including writers, artists, politicians and activists who reflected on the nature of their role in society and the moral framework from which they operated. 

Date 
b. 1960
Birth place
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Period of activity 
from 1984
Selected works