On the continuing irrelevance of our National Cinema

March 4, 2013


Well, at great personal pain I am 50 minutes in to Mental starring Toni Collette and directed by PJ Hogan.

Being the regular font of wisdom on Australian Cinema (and it’s ills) that I am, I think I’ve divined what is going on here.

In the 90’s and much of the 00’s the funding bodies made these awful art movies on worthy topics (mental illness, asylum seekers, Aborigines, health, women’s issues, etc) that no one saw (or wanted to see). In the late 00’s there was a change of tactic due to an on going irrelevance of the National Cinema (due to these cinematic abortions) toward a more commercial and genre driven type of cinema. A good move in theory. But guess what? Instead of good genre films, based on exciting, edgy and original topics or ideas, etc., back came all the tired social causes (mental illness, asylum seekers, Aborigines, health, women’s issues) to further and condescendingly pollute our National Screen and bore a whole new generation of local cinema goers. The funding bodies would then attempt to make quirky comedies and feel good dramas about these ‘worthy’ social issues with equally, if not even MORE disastrous results. We are seeing the proof of this on our screens on a now monthly basis down under. See Save Your Legs and Goddess for further proof of this. Or the aforementioned Mental, Not Suitable for Children, Lore and many others from last year.


So, that’s where we are at the moment in mainstream Australian Cinema.


Addendum: I finished watching Mental and apropos it’s ‘worthy’ cause of Mental Health issues – I have never seen a more insulting and absurd movie about the issue in my life. So, these films are even failing as ideological engines of social responsibility. Is it not long overdue that we had some kind of National Forum on Cinema with the funding bodies to address these and other issues? We can’t allow Australian Cinema to so languish in the doldrums and for funding to be so wasted without responsibility or accountability.

2 Responses to “On the continuing irrelevance of our National Cinema”

  1. Daryl Sparkes said

    There are only 3 ways to get funded by Screen Australia – take them a large budget film ($20-50 mill), be Indigenous, or, in respect to the smaller films, be mates with those at Screen Australia (or even better, work there at some stage). All others need not apply.

  2. Rups said

    It’s sad to think that when I was 24 I was continually dissatisfied with what Australian writers/producers/directors were distributing in the wider market … now at 36 I am still uninterested in what Australian writers/producers/directors are distributing in the wider market … it appears the tired same old forces at hand are still farting about each other without breaking conventions or any crusty moulds that appear to be rusting over each other year after year – perhaps adjusting only slightly by dabbing another coat of mediocrity or drab same sameness over the last efforts – and at the source of this stifled black skivvy champagne flute of thick black rimmed square spectacles is the inevitable sheep like ‘Igorism” that accompanies it all, and the saddest part is that Oz international acting talent is fucking that same sore poor sad sheep back home whilst the clinker of bubbly flutes cashes another foot and mouth ridden cow in the hope of having some kind of movie success to tick at the box office … too many “alas and alacks” as Balzac might have us say in the Fair Imperia … without a penny of thought for individuals hedging different grounds or crafting classic territory, the whole picture looks pretty grim from here to eternity.

    There is no hope for Australian film, and I say that in the hope that I am terribly, terribly wrong.

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