UNKNOWN LAND                     1972

Lyrics written by Oliver Howes

26 mins

The isolated far North West of Australia: cattlemen, pearl-shell divers on their sailing luggers, the big iron-ore mines, and the people from many countries who are living in this vast, wild land. Songs tell the story.

Silver Medal, 16th International Gold Mercury Film Competition, Venice

PEARLS IN THE NORTH              1972

13 mins

Japanese and Malay pearl-shell divers based in Broome spend weeks at sea on small sailing luggers. The pearl-shell goes on the mother ship to Kuri Bay on the colourful Kimberley Coast for the cultured pearl industry.

Silver Delfan, 10th International Education Festival, Iran, 1993

IRRIGATION                  1993

17 mins

Irrigation in Australia, the driest continent on earth. Studies of the Ord River and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Schemes suggest the need for a reappraisal of irrigation.


54 mins, on Channel 7

The Australian Opera Company, with Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge, stage Delibe’s opera Lakme. We see back-stage the art direction and rehearsals leading up to the excitement of the opening night.

THE THINGS WE WANT TO KEEP                        1979

21 mins, on ABC TV

Australia’s heritage, both natural and man-made, revealed in its rich diversity – paddle steamers, old hotels, hop kilns, and Aboriginal sites and artifacts. The film recounts the significance of Australia’s National Estate, and suggests how people can preserve our priceless cultural assets.

ON SACRED GROUND               1981

58 mins on 16 mm, and 50 mins video on ABC TV

The story behind the headlines of the Noonkanbah crisis, in which Aborigines of the WA Kimberley demand legal protection for their land and beliefs, after the destruction of their way of life. Ribnga Green, an Aboriginal university graduate and community volunteer, returns to his tribal land and people. The two-year struggle to preserve sacred sites from despoilation by mining companies leads to a national confrontation.

THE HUMAN FACE OF JAPAN                1982

96 mins, Network Ten TV Special, and six 28- minute films

An Australian view of Japan, seen in the lives of six Japanese people from widely diverse backgrounds, and the fast moving social and economic developments in this complex society.

Golden Tripod Award of the Australian Cinematographers’ Society to Andrew Fraser, 1982.

               The six 28 mins films:


The young family of a Mazda car factory worker, and their relationship with the corporation.


How Japan reconciles its old traditions with its advanced industrial technology.


A fisherman and a high-level official with contrasting lives in a mountainous region.  


A “ronin” student seeking university entrance, and a senior executive at Mitsubishi: two character studies showing intense competition and a unique decision making process.

            A WORKING COUPLE               

Two in Tokyo’s millions: the husband is a clerk in the vast city, his wife runs a small shop.

            THE RICE LADLE

The place of women in Japanese society and the workforce.

THE HUMAN FACE OF THE PACIFIC                    1983

90 mins Network Ten TV Special, and six 28- minute films. Co-produced/Directed with Denis O’Rourke.

The series covers six Pacific nations and territories, giving a wide-ranging view of Pacific society, from subsistence to urbanization, and the challenges from outside world to what has been called “The Pacific Way”.

               The three 28-minute films directed by Oliver Howes:


The island chain of Kiribati is amongst the most isolated in the Pacific. The people of Tabiteuea South  have retained much of their pre-colonial way of life, living by fishing in their traditional sailing canoes. And there’s a three-day celebration, full of vibrant song and dance.


New Caledonia, a French Territory, is divided into the indigenous Melanesian Kanaks, the local and metropolitan French, and French Polynesians. The complex politics is revealed by Jean Marie Tjibaou, leader of the Kanak independence movement, who was later assassinated.


In Tahiti – a rugged forest clad island surrounded by a coral reef – the old culture is being revived after much despoilation. A great double-hulled canoe is being built to re-enact the Polynesian discovery of New Zealand. At the Tiurai Festival, dancers compete.

A NEW ACHIEVEMENT              1984

26 mins,

Aborigines throughout the Northern Territory are balancing traditional ways and the modern world.

SMALL BUSINESS – BIG DREAMS                       1985

For Australians, selling technology in Japan can be hard. We follow Dr John Hobbs around Japan as he does deals, selling an Australian high-tech medical device.


52 mins, ABC TV version

Malaria kills 200 million people in Third World countries. It is rife along the coast of Papua New Guinea, while the Highlands regions are safer. The film examines the complexities for the disease, and Australia’s attempt to create a malaria vaccine. The malaria parasite is devilish hard to kill.

CLEAN THE BEACHES                1990

and A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT             1990

Sydney Water’s engineering innovations in ocean outfalls tunneling using a floating oil rig, and processing sewage to stop the pollution of Sydney’s shoreline. 

RIVER RUNNING OUT OF TIME                       1991    

43 mins

The Hawkesbury-Nepean River flows to the west of Sydney, where there is continuous human population growth. Urban water runoff pollutes and kills riverine biological life. How can Sydney stop degrading its environment?

IT’S YOUR LIFE!                  1993

13 mins, for Sydney University Mechanical Engineering

Young women engineering students and women graduate engineers suggest mechanical engineering as an good, challenging career for women.

OSSU IN THE MOUNTAINS                    2010

9 mins

In East Timor, Oliver travels with Nelson Ximenes to Ossu, a small town in the mountains where the Sydney group Willoughby Friends of Ossu is helping in the country’s recovery after the years of violent repression under Indonesian occupation.  

GREEN REVOLUTION IN EAST TIMOR                 2012    

8 mins

Rob Williams of ACIAR (Australian Agricultural Research) is introducing high-yielding seeds into East Timor through the government’s Seeds of Life program. Timorese farmers can now harvest more, and take their surplus produce to market.