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A Cautionary Tale, directed by Simon Rippingale and narrated by Cate Blanchett, screened by Australian Short Film Today in 2014

A CAUTIONARY TALE, directed by Simon Rippingale and narrated by Cate Blanchett, was screened by Australian Short Film Today in 2014

Australian Short Film Today: Susan Talbot, the first on-air host of Romper Room on Australian television, shown in 1968

Now in our 28th year, AUSTRALIAN SHORT FILM TODAY was founded in 1992 by Susan Talbot as a one night stand in New York. It's become a long term love affair.

Susan achieved widespread recognition across Australia as "Miss Susan" of Romper Room on Australian television at age 26. She was hired for Romper Room by Paul Talbot, an American producer of television shows who was an early syndicator of American television in international markets. Susan moved to London to train "the Misses" for the UK version of Romper Room.  After marrying Paul Talbot she moved to New York City and a brownstone on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Susan was a consummate lover of the arts and a staunch promoter of Australian arts abroad. In addition to Australian film, she supported the Australian Ballet (logistical support and free beds in her brownstone for their early tours to New York), and the Australian National Gallery (she was head of the American Friends of the National Gallery). She chaired the cultural activities of the American Australian Association in New York. She also served on the Board of Film Forum, a leading cinema in New York for independent film and new prints of restored films.

Susan spotted early and showcased the work of several Australian short film makers who went on to become feature film makers for the international audience. They include Robert Luketic (LEGALLY BLONDE, THE UGLY TRUTH and KILLERS), Gregor Jordan (BUFFALO SOLDIERS, NED KELLY), Emma Kate Croghan (LOVE AND OTHER CATASTROPHES), Christina Andreef (SOFT FRUIT), Peter Duncan (CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION), Andrew Lancaster (ACCIDENTS HAPPEN), and Academy Award winning animator Adam Elliot (HARVIE KRUMPET).

For her services to the Australian Arts, Susan was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2013.


She curated Australian Short Film Today for 23 consecutive years until her death in 2015. There was no screening in 2015.

In a tribute to Susan, La Frances Hui, former film curator at Asia Society, said, "Her programming demonstrated deep insights into both filmmaking and cultural trends in Australia."


Speaking at the memorial service for Susan, Chris Beale, a financial sponsor of Susan's AUSTRALIAN SHORT FILM TODAY, said, "Her films kept you in touch with what young Australians were thinking. But you never knew what to expect. The would be some very funny live action films as well as dark comedies. There would be clever animation and claymation. In some years there would horror and gore. One year there was an entire program of films by first generation Australian children of immigrants. Another year featured lots of sex. Inside the head of that conservatively dressed, conservatively spoken, seemingly demure woman there was a broad and devilish mind. An artistic mind."

In 2015, Chris Beale and Jill Viola took up the baton to continue AUSTRALIAN SHORT FILM TODAY as producers. In 2018, AUSTRALIAN SHORT FILM TODAY became part of Australian International Screen Forum of which Chris is Chairman and Jill is a board member.

Susan Talbot, the first on-air host of Romper Room on Australian television, shown in 1968                                                                                                                                                                                       

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