New film footage purportedly showing legendary aviator Amelia Earhart has been released.

The footage, shot in 1937, shows Earhart posing for a photographer on an airport tarmac, presumably in Burbank, California.

Lost for nearly 80 years, the footage shows photographer Albert Bresnik taking photos of a smiling Earhart, who poses on and around her Lockheed Electra 10E, the plane that would carry her more than 20,000 miles around the globe, before eventually being lost forever.

The film was discovered by Bresnik's nephew who had inherited it from his father. Bresnik gave the film reel to American publisher Douglas Westfall ten years ago and only recently granted him rights to the original reel and digitised footage.

"At the time, Amelia is the breakout feminist for all women. She's flying an airplane, making records, 16 by this time. She has 16 world records. And yet, she's still a girl. And we need to see that in her. The photos that you see later on, as she travels around the world. She's getting tired. She's getting tired. You can tell, she's done. She's really really over-stressed in this. Yet here, the day before she leaves, she was bright, cheery and happy to do this.," said Westfall.

In addition to showing Earhart, the film also catches glimpses of her husband, George Putnam, and her navigator, Fred Noonan, presumably days before she launched her trip.

"In the film, you see her husband talking to the photographer Albert Bresnik. Her husband George Putnam hired him. So you see him giving him instructions. You see her navigator in the very beginning, walking in. This is Fred Noonan, who's going to disappear with her in 42 days. Fred, had recently got married. You see Fred's new wife, walking around with Amelia, looking chipper. She is the one in a hat. It's delightful to see friends and her acquaintance working with her on this photo shoot. It's so significant for us," said Westfall.

On 2 July 1937, Earhart and Noonan left New Guinea for Howland Island in one of the final legs of their journey; they were never heard from again and their plane was never found.

The file footage is being released this month as a short film, titled Amelia Earhart's Last Photo Shoot, along with a book by the same name, published by The Paragon Agency. The book documents Earhart and Noonan's last flight. Westfall says he will donate the original reel to an archive.