Story of Sydney’s legendary Eternity restored by NFSA

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia digitally restores 1994 award-winning documentary about Arthur Stace ‘Mr Eternity’ for Sydney Film Festival premiere

The documentary Eternity, which tells the story behind the iconic word that appeared overnight across the footpaths of Sydney for over 40 years, has been digitally restored by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA). It is set to premiere at the Sydney Film Festival at Event Cinemas on 12 June, with an encore screening at the State Theatre on 13 June (the latter introduced by Margaret Pomeranz).

Celebrating 25 years since its release, the acclaimed documentary by Lawrence Johnston (Life, Fallout) is the latest film to be restored as part of the NFSA Restores program. Eternity was an international festival favourite on its initial release, winning the Los Angeles Documentary Festival’s prestigious Award for Best Documentary Feature Film, among many others.

Johnston said: ‘We are very honoured to have Eternity restored by the NFSA. The story of ‘Mr Eternity’ is of another time and is evidence of the amazing array of enduring spirits who have made the city of Sydney what it is today. Arthur Stace’s ‘Eternity’ lives on for a new generation to discover.’

Producer Susan MacKinnon added: ‘I am thrilled that the NFSA chose to digitally restore Eternity in time for the Sydney Film Festival, exactly 25 years after its world premiere at the historic State Theatre. The restoration has revived the interest in our film and confirmed its relevance as an Australian cinema classic. Tickets are selling fast for the screening; it’s exciting that people still want to see the film after a quarter of a century!’

The emotional story behind Arthur Stace and his writing of ‘Eternity’ was re-created and shot in the very locations of Arthur’s early canvas: inner-city Sydney, photographed in beautiful black-and-white by Academy Award winning cinematographer Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha, Mary Poppins Returns). His work on Eternity won him the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Cinematography in a Non-Feature Film in 1994.

Stace’s story is complemented by interviews with an array of colourful Sydney characters that either knew him personally or felt a deep connection to the sighting of the beautiful word written beneath their feet.

Eternity has now been lovingly restored to the highest international archival standards by the NFSA Restoresprogram and is available to screen in today’s digital cinemas. It joins other documentaries restored as part of the program, including My Survival as an Aboriginal (1978), Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters (1980) and Rocking the Foundations (1985).

/Public Release.