Armstrong is best known for making films centered on complex characters and the choices that they make. Her debut My Brilliant Career (1979) was the first Australian feature film to be directed by a woman in nearly half a century and set the path for an outstanding international career. Shortly after, Armstrong had countless offers from Hollywood, but turned them all down to stay in Australia and make the deliberately small film Starstruck (1982) – a ‘rock-musical’ comedy starring Jo Kennedy.
Armstrong achieved her greatest Hollywood success in 1994 with Little Women, starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale, Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst. The adaptation of Louisa Mary Alcott’s novel was one of the most popular films of the year, and emphasises Armstrong’s focus on portraying the intimate lives of strong female leads and their relationships with one another.
Portraits and costumes from Armstrong’s films feature in the exhibition Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits, on now at the Samstag Museum of Art in Adelaide.
Only possible thanks to the partnership between the National Portrait Gallery and the National Film and Sound Archive, Starstruck explores portraiture in the world of Australian film and expands our understanding of what a single photograph – a portrait of somebody – can tell us.
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With thanks to The Message Pod