The Australian tells it as it is on the Oz film industry

November 15, 2008 |

Today’s editorial in the Australian is a spot on description of what is wrong with the Australian Film industry.  I was particularly taken with the statement:

Antony Ginnane, the new president of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, however, is only partly right when he says our films are “in the main, dark, depressing, bleak pieces”. He could have said “dark, depressing, bleak pieces … too often obsessed with drug addiction, deadbeats, failure, toilet humour, gay relationships and hokey spirituality.” Mr Ginnane’s general view that “the feature film side of our industry has for some years now almost completely failed to connect with and find an audience” hit the nail on the head. As he told the association’s conference on the Gold Coast: “Nobody goes to see them. If they premiered most of the Australian movies of the past 24 months on a plane, people would be walking out in the first 20 minutes.”

Completely spot on.  To see an Australian movie these days is to run the gauntlet of outer suburban hell or potty humour.

I was particularly pleased to see the paper have a red hot go at the critics who form a cabal of supporters of the most insipid offerings:

Critics, too, must bear some responsibility for the malaise. Despite strings of box office failures, it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to find a biting critique of Australian films. Rather than representing the public paying at the box office, too many critics act as advocates for the film industry. As a result, lured by glowing reviews, cinema-goers will be disappointed, and will not waste scarce leisure time on the next Australian film.

The grim, small budget Oyster Farmer is a such an example. Lauded by The Sydney Morning Herald as “seductive and affectionate”, a film that “sparkles and broods … its surface glimmering with speckled light and shade” it was awarded four stars by this newspaper’s David Stratton. Encouraged by such accolades to see it, many cinema-goers found it pedestrian and disappointing.

Generally, the industry has been unambitious, priding itself for years on producing small films – so small as to be invisible. They are not cinematic and have all the qualities of an average telemovie. One of the problems appears to be the rush to production without adequate script and character treatment.

When it comes to Australian movies David Stratton is happy to close his usual discerning eyes and just gush.  As for Tom Ryan in the Sunday Age and Jim Shemberi in the Age generally well, they are beyond hope. When I saw the review of Mens Group I almost through a shoe at the TV.  The premise, a group of dysfunctional damaged men meet in a house and…… talk about their problems.  The notional action is them doing the male screaming at the moon thing.  Another dare to movie goers.  Thank goodness for Athony Ginnane’s comments yesterday

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