On my morning surf, I found buried deep in The Age‘s website this fascinating article by Paul Kalina. (Micro-rant, rhetorical query: Why are the arts sections [not even dignified by the word “Arts”] of Fairfax websites so shite?) Kalina has written about the indie doco Into the Shadows, recent joint winner of Best Australian Film at MUFF (Melbourne Underground Film Festival).

From the MUFF site: Into the Shadows “tracks the development of Australian film from its inception, through the glory years of the 1970s to the travesty of today … Featuring exclusive must-see interviews from Andrew Denton, George Miller, Rolf De Heer, Scott Hicks, Bruce Beresford, representatives from Disney, Sony, Madman [the list of interviewees is extraordinary] … It’ll open your eyes, move you, enrage you … for anyone … who despairs at the state of our nation’s film industry, who laments the dominance of the multiplex over the independent theatre, and asks – why?” [added italics]

It’s the last sentence Kalina picks up on: “One doesn’t need to look far these days for an opinion on what’s wrong with Australian cinema. Films that are too dark? Too preoccupied with drug addicts and criminals? Not funny enough? Everyone, from senior industry players to casual filmgoers, seems to have an opinion*. But according to many of the insiders who have lined up to offer their expertise in a new feature documentary, Into the Shadows, it is access to screen time that’s the real problem.”

He writes how Australia has 2000 screens and an independent (ie non-Hollywood backed) Australian film “will be seen on fewer than 10 per cent of cinema screens, while studio blockbusters take up as much as one-third of total screens.”

For example: “While a middling US film might be released on up to 200 screens, the well-credentialed Australian films Disgrace and My Year without Sex made it to only 24 and 25 screens across Australia respectively.” (The figures don’t quite dovetail with the previous paragraph. Dunno.)

Thus we have a year when Aussie films have done relatively well, taking in over $11 million (excluding Luhrman’s Australia), the total box office was $954 million. Therefore local films took in all of … 1.2% of the market. Gently weep, my guitar.

It’s a most interesting piece, have a look; and check out the trailer above. Meanwhile Into the Shadows is slated for a “limited theatrical release in late October.” The irony, the horror.


*See Luke Buckmaster‘s Cinetology blog for his consideration of last year’s crop of Aussie films.


The fragility

The bowl on the bench must have been from last night so I reached to take it away. At my touch, just a finger’s touch, the bowl split in two, rocking back. I could feel my … psyche(?) … hunching. The very air seemed fractured, the clock ticked louder.

Not that it was a herald of mortality; more a whisper of fragility. Things have their time – as George Harrison once sang, All things must pass. It was a ceramic shudder, and then the bowl fell apart.



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