Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Why on earth do we even want an Australian film industry?"

Michael Coulter, writing in The Age, puts his finger on what is so wrong with the Australian film industry, and why Australians would "rather cross the road" than see a local film.

Back in 2004, after seeing "Rolf de Heer's multi-award-winning movie Alexandra's Project", was "if you like, the year my faith broke."
Avoiding Australian films has since become routine. It may well be that I've missed many great cinematic experiences, but at least I have the comfort of knowing I'm not the only one. The problem is clearly not with the talent available; both behind and in front of the camera, some of the biggest names in movies are Australian, or at least Australasian. Rather, it seems to be one of vision and intent. How often do reviewers attach words such as ''bleak'', ''gritty'' and ''uncompromising'' to local films? And to how many potential viewers have these become code words for ''avoid at all costs''?

As Coulter observes, say what you want about Hollywood, but it at least makes films that people want to see.

For the simple reason of course that its films have to make money to pay for their production costs.

Whereas the local industry here is basically a parasite living off the money of the taxpayers who by and large wouldn't waste their time going to see the boring and self-indulgent rubbish that film makers here routinely churn out.

All too many films here are financed via government grants and absurd tax breaks.

And that's the problem. Government subsidies always end up producing effects that were not intended and distorting and corrupting market places.

The film industry here is no different, despite the idiotically pompous and pretentious bullshit about how "we" need to hear these people's stories to some how or other be genuinely "Australian".

Crap. The artistic elite in this country of course loathes and detests both Australia as it really is and Australians in general.

So of course it needs to essentially steal money out of people's pockets via the taxation system to survive.

If it was telling stories recognised as real and genuine by Australians, then it would be attracting an audience.

But it isn't, and therefore it doesn't. It is telling rather of the disaffection with Australia felt by an effete and privileged postmodern elite.

Now, I'm not suggesting that local films should just be producing fluff pieces about a land down under full of bonzer blokes and sheilas who like a beer and have hearts of gold.

No, but can't we have some introspection that at least is informed with a measure of humour and affection for its subjects? A human and humane appreciation of our strengths and capacity for good will and generosity, not just our seemingly irredeemable failings?
In promoting his new film Lucky Country (reviewed as a ''doom-laden drama about a family's struggle for survival''), actor Aden Young addresses this by saying Australians need to ''recognise we're not trying to piss in their faces with taxpayers' money''.

Tim Blair points to a comment by Rachel Ward that is a perfect example of how out of touch with reality the local industry is:
I went to my son’s rugby match last weekend. I saw myself and the recent crop of Australian filmmakers embodied in some small whippersnapper, who cradling the ball like a fragile egg, dared to duck and dive around snarling overgrown beasts on the field, almost making it to the try line, only to be laid flat by a succession of spoilsports who, one after the other, threw themselves on the lad, squashing the precious egg and all hopes of a rare victory.

Several readers have taken issue with Ward’s metaphor, but it’s actually perfect. Australian filmmakers are losers who will only triumph if the competition stands aside. Works for me.

Sums it up perfectly. "Please protect us from competition that is better at making films that people want to see than we are."

The usual special pleading of the rent seeker.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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