The Capitol acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. We respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. We also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.
To infinity n beyond
To infinity n beyond
To infinity n beyond
To infinity n beyond
To infinity n beyond
To infinity n beyond
To infinity n beyond
To infinity n beyond
Visions, Speculations & Dystopias
Your operating manual for a post-lockdown world:
screening, live panel & masterclass
4, 5, 6 Nov
Visions, Speculations & Dystopias
Your operating manual for a post-lockdown world:
screening, live panel & masterclass
4, 5, 6 Nov
Visions, Speculations & Dystopias
Your operating manual for a post-lockdown world:
screening, live panel & masterclass
4, 5, 6 Nov
1 small step 4 humans
1 small step 4 humans
1 small step 4 humans
1 small step 4 humans
1 small step 4 humans
1 small step 4 humans
1 small step 4 humans
1 small step 4 humans
Journey into outer space from your living room.
Spaceship Earth
4, 5, 6 Nov
Journey into outer space from your living room.
Spaceship Earth
4, 5, 6 Nov
Journey into outer space from your living room.
Spaceship Earth
4, 5, 6 Nov
Ground ctrl
Ground ctrl
Ground ctrl
Ground ctrl
Ground ctrl
Ground ctrl
Ground ctrl
Ground ctrl
Should we leave Earth? Provocations from science, speculative design & science fiction
Spaceship Earth
4, 5, 6 Nov
Should we leave Earth? Provocations from science, speculative design & science fiction
Spaceship Earth
4, 5, 6 Nov
Should we leave Earth? Provocations from science, speculative design & science fiction
Spaceship Earth
4, 5, 6 Nov
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
Video art 2 ur inbox
PROTOTYPE CONVERSATIONS
Catch up on past video art chats below with
Sari Braithwaite, Tiyan Baker + Sam Smith.
PROTOTYPE CONVERSATIONS
Catch up on past video art chats below with
Sari Braithwaite, Tiyan Baker + Sam Smith.
PROTOTYPE CONVERSATIONS
Catch up on past video art chats below with
Sari Braithwaite, Tiyan Baker + Sam Smith.

Visions, Speculations & Dystopias: A deep dive into Spaceship Earth

Blast off

A free online event series for space junkies, eco-futurists, and lockdown existentialists. The lineup includes a screening of Matt Wolf’s stranger-than-fiction documentary Spaceship Earth (2020), plus a two-day provocation covering climate resilience, earthly dystopias, speculative fictions, life on Mars, eco-futurism, astrofuturism, and the social experimentation emerging from the experience of being locked down in our own private biospheres at home. 

“If ever a documentary was in tune with the spirit of lockdown it is this very absorbing film about Biosphere 2 – a colossal eco-experimental project in the Arizona desert in the early 90s, which had its roots in 60s counterculture and which I knew nothing about before this.” – The Guardian

Your operating manual includes:

+ A free online screening of Spaceship Earth
The film will be available to stream anytime you choose. Or join our Watch Party at 7.30pm Wed 4 Nov to watch together, apart.

+ A Panel Conversation
5.30pm Thu 5 Nov
With RMIT’s Professor Michelle Gee, Director of the Sir Lawrence Wackett Centre, and speculative designer Dr. Ollie Cotsaftis in conversation with speculative fiction writer Dr. Rose Michael.  

+ A live Masterclass with NYC-based Spaceship Earth director/producer Matt Wolf
10am AEDT Fri 6 Nov

FREE, bookings essential.

A free online event series for space junkies, eco-futurists, and lockdown existentialists. The lineup includes a screening of Matt Wolf’s stranger-than-fiction documentary Spaceship Earth (2020), plus a two-day provocation covering climate resilience, earthly dystopias, speculative fictions, life on Mars, eco-futurism, astrofuturism, and the social experimentation emerging from the experience of being locked down in our own private biospheres at home. 

Tune in for a live panel discussion on Thursday 5 November with Professor Michelle Gee, Director of the Sir Lawrence Wackett Centre, speculative fiction writer Dr. Rose Michael, and speculative designer Dr. Ollie Cotsaftis – all from RMIT – followed by a masterclass with NYC-based director Matt Wolf on Friday 6 November. All talking events will screen right here at thecapitol.tv.

Filmmaker and Guggenheim Fellow Matt Wolf’s Spaceship Earth showcases the journey of eight visionaries who in 1991 spent two years quarantined inside a self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem in the Arizona desert called Biosphere 2. The experiment set out to explore the viability of establishing human existence on other planets but the ‘biospherians’ faced life-threatening ecological disaster, interpersonal tensions and a growing criticism from the outside world that it was nothing more than a cult.

Wolf’s film stitches together present-day and archival footage – drawn from over 600 hours of material – to tell this almost unbelievable moment in history, at the time a worldwide media sensation but which now seems to be the stuff of science fiction.

In our present state of social isolation and with concerns over global warming and ecological preservation an urgent reality, this thrilling, utopian experiment is even more fascinating and poignant than when the biospherians first launched themselves into their Earth-bound geodesic dome. 

“If ever a documentary was in tune with the spirit of lockdown it is this very absorbing film about Biosphere 2 – a colossal eco-experimental project in the Arizona desert in the early 90s, which had its roots in 60s counterculture and which I knew nothing about before this.”The Guardian

Your operating manual includes:

+ A free online screening of Spaceship Earth
The film will be available to stream anytime you choose. Or join our Watch Party at 7.30pm Wed 4 Nov to watch together, apart.

+ A Panel Conversation
Ground control to lockdown town: Should we leave Earth? Provocations from science, speculative design & science fiction
5.30pm Thu 5 Nov
With RMIT’s Professor Michelle Gee, Director of the Sir Lawrence Wackett Centre, and speculative designer Dr. Ollie Cotsaftis in conversation with speculative fiction writer Dr. Rose Michael.  

+ A live Masterclass with NYC-based Spaceship Earth director/producer
Matt Wolf (Wild Combination, Teenage, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project) will cover his archival-led approach to documentary filmmaking, long-form interviewing, themes across his body of work, and the making of Spaceship Earth.
10am AEDT Fri 6 Nov 

FREE, bookings essential.

Subscribe

While our physical doors are closed, our newsletter has updates on our digital programs, and you’ll be the first to know when our doors reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown lifts. We run giveaways and exclusive offers for our subscribers, too.

About Us

Fellini once said something about cinemas being the dream we dream with our eyes open. Our Theatre is one of the world’s most iconic cinemas, possessing all the charm, hypnotic charisma and commanding authority that Fellini had thought was lost from the cinema-going experience.

Fellini once said something about cinemas being the dream we dream with our eyes open. Our Theatre is one of the world’s most iconic cinemas, possessing all the charm, hypnotic charisma and commanding authority that Fellini had thought was lost from the cinema-going experience.  It is not lost, but very much here, in Melbourne. Welcome to The Capitol.

We’re putting the theatre back in the theatre and the spectacle back into the cinema-going experience. 

Prototype Conversations

“It’s deeply weird that the internet has made cats and radio famous, but not video art.” – Lauren Carroll Harris, curator, Prototype

Go beyond cat and corona-memes with our series of free, online conversations about video, art and the makings of both at a time when everyone is being sucked into the internet at high-speed. These live chats were recorded in August, head here to watch.

Presented in collaboration with Prototype, these digital Q&As featured video artists from their Care Package series, a weekly newsletter delivering new, remixed, re-edited and under-seen works made by artists in lockdown, straight to your inbox.

“It’s deeply weird that the internet has made cats and radio famous, but not video art.” – Lauren Carroll Harris, curator, Prototype

Go beyond cat and corona-memes with our series of free, online conversations about video, art and the makings of both at a time when everyone is being sucked into the internet at high-speed. These live chats were recorded in August and are all available to watch here.

Presented in collaboration with Prototype, these digital Q&As featured video artists from their Care Package series, a weekly newsletter delivering new, remixed, re-edited and under-seen works made by artists in lockdown, straight to your inbox.

On Tuesday 11 August Prototype curator Lauren Carroll Harris joined filmmaker Sari Braithwaite ([CENSORED]) to discuss Qiuzhuang (2020). Made remotely with filmmaker Katie Mitchell (Divided City) during lockdown, Qiuzhuang raises complex questions around art’s purpose or purposelessness, and the fine line that divides cultural cross-pollination and cultural colonisation. Watch Qiuzhuang here, then watch the full conversation here.

On Tuesday 18 August artist Tiyan Baker discussed her work Tarun (2020), which examines the reckoning of homecoming and belonging when Baker returns to her mother’s birthplace in Sarawak (colonised by the British and then Malaysia), to learn the Bidayuh language and understand the jungle culture that might have been her own. Watch Tarun here, then watch the full conversation here.

The series wrapped on Tuesday 25 August with UK-based artist and filmmaker Sam Smith discussing his work Lithic Coda (2020). Filmed on the volcanic island of Gotland, Sweden, the work unites myth, body and landscape when a raincoated dancer is stunned by an encounter with a floating, living, rotating rock. Watch the work in full here, and the full chat is up here.

Take 2

We’re asking our friends across our film and creative communities to pick a film that’s available to watch online and tell us in two minutes or less what they love about it. Everything mentioned in this series is available to watch on free or paid streaming services.

Video Tour

We recently opened our virtual doors for Open House Melbourne Weekend. Step backstage and explore The Capitol’s hidden corners with Peter Malatt, architect and founding director of Six Degrees Architects, and Professor Martyn Hook, Dean, School of Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT. Our guides take you behind-the-scenes, through The Capitol’s curving staircases, historic serveries and galleys, and spaces not usually accessible to the public.

This digital tour offers a truly intimate look inside The Capitol. You’ll see things you wouldn’t get to see if you were there IRL, and hear Peter and Martyn share some of the magic and the history behind “the best cinema that has ever been built, or is ever likely to be built”, as iconic Australian architect Robin Boyd once lavishly declared.

Virtual Visit

Join us for a virtual experience of The Capitol from anywhere in the world, at any time that suits you. Our Virtual Visit invites you inside the spectacular Theatre, as well as the upper and lower foyers, Salon and Lounge at The Capitol. Stare up at the awe-inspiring ceiling (our own crystal palace), peek behind the stage curtain, and ogle the bold, geometric carpet in the foyers (gives The Shining’s carpet a run for its money).

Discover the Theatre and Foyer here. Then wander through the Salon and Lounge here.

Image: The Theatre in The Capitol. Photo: Tatjana Plitt

Our History

The Capitol was originally built in 1924 by celebrated architects Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin. The Chicago-Gothic-style theatre, then known as the ‘Capitol Theatre’, is considered their greatest interior design work. The Capitol was the first extravagant ‘picture palace’ to be built in Victoria.

It originally seated over 2137 people through sweeping stalls and circles, and today the updated capacity is still a grand 568. The theatricality of the movie-going experience was – and still is! – made more spectacular by the unique light displays in the crystalline ceiling, often choreographed to play in time with live orchestral scores during the silent film era.

The Capitol was originally built in 1924 by celebrated architects Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin. The Chicago-Gothic-style theatre, then known as the ‘Capitol Theatre’, is considered their greatest interior design work. The Capitol was the first extravagant ‘picture palace’ to be built in Victoria. It originally seated over 2137 people through sweeping stalls and circles, and today the updated capacity is still a grand 568. The theatricality of the movie-going experience was – and still is! – made more spectacular by the unique light displays in the crystalline ceiling, often choreographed to play in time with live orchestral scores during the silent film era.

‘That’ ceiling was created with 33,000 plaster crystals lit by thousands of coloured lights, creating the impression of a crystalline cave of wonder. Originally lit by incandescent globes in red, yellow, blue and green, today the ceiling displays are controlled by a digital matrix of hundreds of LED bulbs and data points – to the same utterly mesmerising effect. History nerds might enjoy watching this short documentary we put together about The Capitol’s origin-story. May we also direct you to this terrific article by Professor Lisa French, Dean, School of Media and Communication at RMIT, in Senses of Cinema, which offers more about The Capitol’s history, including a spotlight on the visionary contribution of Marion Mahony Griffin. 

The Capitol has been through several iterations of upgrades and modifications since 1924. RMIT University purchased the Theatre in 1999, running lectures during the day and hiring out to festivals on evenings and weekends. By 2014 it had fallen into critical disrepair, and the University closed the Theatre’s doors, readying it for the makeover that you see today.

Between 2014–2019 RMIT worked with Six Degrees Architects to restore The Capitol to its former glory and make considerable upgrades to the building. It reopened mid-2019 with an extended stage to host live theatre, music, talks, conferences and lectures, a 7.1 surround sound system, 35mm film projection, 4K digital projection, coffee and wine bars, and a direct link to RMIT’s Media Precinct, which allows remote broadcasting capability. The Capitol is now well equipped to deliver a new era of education to students by day, and culture to the city by night (/s and weekends).

Today we’re a community of culture lovers, not only focused on our first love – cinema – but on new media, creative arts, screen technology, design, performance and LED-powered, eyes-open dreams.