Robin Anderson was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1950. After education at the University of Western Australia (B Economics Hons) she worked for the Australian Federal Government in Canberra for several years before winning a scholarship to Columbia University in New York, where she took out an MA in Sociology. During her time at Columbia Robin became interested in documentary filmmaking, and on her return to Australia in 1977 joined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a researcher. Here she met Bob Connolly. The two teamed up and left the ABC in 1980 to pursue careers as independent documentary makers. With Connolly on camera and Anderson sound, they co produced and directed First Contact (1983), followed by Joe Leahy’s Neighbours (1989) and Black Harvest (1992). Set in the PNG Highlands and shot over ten years, these 3 films won 30 national and international awards, including an Academy Award nomination for First Contact. All three won the Grand Prix at France’s prestigious Festival Cinema du Reel, and AFI awards for Best Documentary.
In 1992 the Australian Film Institute awarded Connolly and Anderson the prestigious Byron Kennedy Award, and in 2001 they picked up the Brisbane Film Festival’s Chauvel Award for their “Outstanding Contribution to Australian Film Making.” Later that year they were presented with the inaugural IF Living Legend Award.
In 1996 Connolly and Anderson released Rats in the Ranks. The film ran 5 months in Australian cinemas. Their last film together was Facing the Music (2001) which like all its predecessors was judged Best Documentary by the Australian Film Critics Circle. It too won the AFI Award for Best Documentary, and was voted most popular film at the Sydney and Brisbane Film Festivals.
In March 2002, Robin Anderson died aged 51. She is survived by Connolly and the couple’s two children (Katherine and Joanna) who live in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe.