The Beehive: Who Killed Juanita Neilsen at ACMI

ACMI and Artbank are proud to present the world premiere of the inaugural Artbank +ACMI Commission The Beehive, by artist Zanny Begg.

This three year, $210,000 commissioning program is the first of its kind in Australia and will support Australian artists and filmmakers working at the nexus of film and art enabling them to make a new, ambitious and experimental screen based work, and to explore new forms and methodologies in their practice.

Based on the unsolved murder of famous Sydney anti-development campaigner Juanita Nielsen in 1975, Zanny Begg’s The Beehive examines themes of gentrification, corruption, sex-work, feminism and non-conformist lifestyles. Created using an algorithm, the film will be randomly compiled from a reservoir of scripted fictions, documentary interviews and choreographed sequences exploring the implications of this infamous cold case and how they can be applied today. Using the tropes of true crime, the work will morph and evolve with each viewing, offering audiences different glimpses and interpretations of the crime.

The Artbank + ACMI Commission partnership further expands ACMI’s vibrant commissioning program, which through a series of vital collaborations – with Artbank, Ian Potter Foundation, City of Melbourne and the Mordant Family – will directly fund Australian artists with $650,000 worth of financial support to create new work over the next three years and then exhibit it to thousands of people at ACMI and beyond.

The Beehive is a free video installation exhibition premiering at ACMI on Tuesday 31 July. The work is of variable duration. More at



Artist Zanny Begg said:
“Juanita walked into The Carousel nightclub in July 1975 and disappeared. This void forms the core of The Beehive, a gap that is filled with a multitude of contemporary actors and activists who all in their own unique way reflect aspects of Juanita. There are twelve people cast as Juanita allowing multiple readings of her story and its significance for Sydney. I am very thankful to ACMI and Artbank for this opportunity to bring such an important story to the screen.”

“Living in Sydney the murder of Juanita Nielsen forms part of the core of our urban landscape, its a story that I thought I knew well. Working on The Beehive for the last year has shown me that there is so much more to the story that I first assumed. Obviously our fascination with this story centres on who killed Juanita, which I hope my film addresses, but for me the most incredible part was to also search out what sort of woman Juanita was. It was amazing to find out the little details, like she spoke Arabic; she loved cats; or that her beehive was a wig. Juanita was a smart, open-minded, courageous and powerful woman whom I hope The Beehive does justice to.”
ACMI Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick said:

“Zanny Begg’s The Beehive is a shifting and dynamic examination of an unsolved mystery, a cinematic hybrid of historical and contemporary issues. We’re thrilled that the inaugural Artbank + ACMI Commission is such a genre-defying and multi-layered work featuring screen industry icons such as Pamela Rabe and Nicolas Hope. Our commissioning program seeks to support artists working at the juncture of art and technology and The Beehive is a fantastic example.”

Tony Stephens, Director of Artbank said:
“Zanny Begg’s The Beehive is a rousing cinematic feat in which the past and present collide. For the inaugural Artbank + ACMI Commission, it demonstrates how support, when aligned with ambition, can result in significant outcomes. The first of three commissions conceived to support Australian artists and filmmakers working and the nexus of art and film, The Beehive is an incredible accomplishment by Zanny; combining technology, art, politics and pleasure. We are very excited to have it as part of the Artbank collection.”

The Beehive: Who Killed Juanita Neilsen by Zanny Begg
31 July – 4 November 2018