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Film & Music by Carla Thackrah


10 minute showreel featuring excerpts from 'Sex, Drugs & String Quartets' and 'Circus Sweet' .


Film and music/sound by Carla Thackrah.


Directed, written and composed by the film maker Carla Thackrah.

Artist Directors: Elise Goodrich, Leah King-Smith, Ina Shanahan
Cinematographer: Simon Gray
Editor: Maria Rita Barbagallo

The film has been shown on ABC TV, New Zealand TV, and in international film festivals in Australia, USA and UK.


The dramatised documentary explores the deep psychological correspondence between a musician’s definition of self and their instrument. The stories are true, gleaned from interview, but apart from the first story, the players we see on the screen are not the owners of the stories. I collaborated with 3 other visual artists to conceptualise, design and direct the creation of the visuals. The project was funded by a major grant from Arts Queensland.

The film score won “Best Music for a Documentary” from the Australian Guild of Screen Composers and the cinematography won several awards from the Australian Cinematographers Society. The full soundtrack has been broadcast by ABC radio as a stand-alone sound work.



Composer, editor, writer: Carla Thackrah

Music performed by Topology contemporary music ensemble from Brisbane. Animations by Chris Barker. With Australian archival film footage from ScreenSound and featuring the silent film from 1928 - "Song" starring Anna May Wong.

Circus Sweet is a collection of archival footage from Australia’s past featuring circus and circus-like acts. It presents a quirky and at times dark take on the circus world. As the ‘Sweet’ in the title suggests, the music is in the form of a dance suite borrowed from the classical tradition. However this piece offers a ‘sweet’ twist to old forms.

The circus is a place of illusion and enchantment on many levels. We want to believe it is a world of simple entertainment, an escape from the reality of our mundane lives, but on another and more honest level, the world of simple party tricks is itself an illusion, masking the dark grimy underworld of a performers’ life. The music was written to mirror this double illusion. On one level it is a simple dance suite based on traditional form, tonal and entertaining in its intention. However interspersed amongst the dance music are unexpected tonalities and sound textures created with digitally altered voice samples – both from the original soundtrack and specially recorded samples of my own voice, which create an unsettling element to the work.

The film was made with mostly Australian film footage pre 1950. It was edited with a loose narrative and linked together with animations by Chris Barker.


It was shown projected with live music and created with assistance of a grant from Arts Queensland. Topology recorded the music in 2007 with a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts.

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