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The bonza project aims to enhance the research training experience for media educators and students alike.

For educators teaching film or media research, it encourages a more collaborative and creative approach to film and media studies in the classroom.

For students, bonza provides hands-on, detailed experience with the various processes involved in undertaking film and media research. Students actively learn the skills of the film theorist, historian and analyst through developing their research projects.

Students gather information on self-selected areas of interest from a nominated national film industry. The information they collect is recorded into any of the four related datasets (for recording biographical, bibliographical, production, company, and film theatre information) that make up the entire bonza database. They reference and annotate primary and secondary documents, create biographical records for people who have worked within the industry, and develop accounts of the different films, businesses and cinemas they are researching. The students then prepare, publish and link their online essays (incorporating words, sound and image) to each other's work, to online sources and to the information gathered in the bonza database.

To start using bonza in your classroom, register your interest by emailing us at

Project History

The bonza project was initiated by Deb Verhoeven and Adrian Miles in 1998 and its first iteration received Australian government support in 1999. The original bonza website is available here and provides a detailed account of the initial research proposal.

Over time, a few issues (some technical and some usability related) were identified in the original system. In anticipation of an increasing volume of new data the AFI Research Collection decided to re-engineer the bonza system to improve the stability of the system and to introduce a number of design features that can provide or greatly enhance:

  1. Flexibility of data inserted into the database
  2. Flexibility provided for user interface design
  3. Persistence of data extracted from the internet
  4. Accuracy in the search results
  5. Visibility of indirect relations amongst records
  6. Future ability to add audiovisual information
  7. Normalisation of the database

The revised version of bonza includes new opportunities for recording information on companies, and film theatres which expands the types of research and learning that students can undertake. The tagging feature allows interaction with the database for both the casual user and the student and adds enormous value to the database especially in terms of linking different types of records by theme or idea.

The addition of the French Cinemas section demonstrates the flexibility of the database to handle a new dataset.


The AFI Research Collection would like to thank the following people and organisations for their help in realising this project:

Database redesign and testing by

Adam Thick (Strategic Data )

RMIT University Staff

  • Adrian Miles
  • Mahmoud Mohammadi
  • Carsten Voss
  • Adrian Smith
  • Allan James Thomas
  • Sarah Sanderson
  • Michelle Carey
  • Olympia Szilagyi

Some database work was undertaken by

Florian 'Floyd' Müeller

Web redesign by

  • Tony Tran
  • Tommy Kwok
  • Viveka de Costa

Special thanks to the AFI Research Collection staff and volunteers for testing and suggestions.

Extra special thanks to the Cinema Studies students at RMIT University for their invaluable work in adding the various records to bonza over the years.

Australia & New Zealand Database Enter Australia & New Zealand Database
French Cinema Enter French Cinema

Afi research collection