Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Screenwriters: Katherine Thomson

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


In 1977, when the flamboyant designer Florence Broadhurst was found murdered in her studio, few people claimed to know the real Florence. Even her age, which people speculated to be in the fifties or sixties, was discovered to be actually 76. So begins the unraveling of the history of a lifetime so full of surprises that it could only be harnessed by an equally spirited documentary.

Florence's career culminated with her recognition as a world-renowned wallpaper designer, whose signature use of color and shapes is as popular today as when she was in her prime. But then, invention and reinvention were the keys to Florence's existence. Born in the Outback of Australia, she became a singer in Shanghai, proprietor of a fashion boutique in London, and an Australian painter. She was also a socialite, lover, wife, and mother with just a few name and identity changes in between.

Acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong uses every conceivable cinematic means to take us on this fascinating journey through a life lived to the fullest. She cleverly interweaves archival images, animation, reenactments, and intimate interviews with those whose lives Florence touched. In Unfolding Florence, subject and filmmaker merge seamlessly, not only to create a fantastic story but also to capture the essence of the truly unique individual who was Florence Broadhurst.

— John Cooper

Screening Details


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