Tuesday, November 06, 2007

australian films

One feels that one often has to start afresh every day with an explanation of where one is coming from. I so often find myself talking about/reminiscing over/referencing films with people and getting a blank, 'oh, is that an Australian film?'

I put this comment, incidentally, in the category of almost-but-not-quite-as-annoying-as 'Are you vego?'. (Aside: on Friday night we were on the train quite late and a guy styling himself Aussie Tom asked a young man he had just been introduced to, 'What nasho are you?' A piece of crap abbreviation, incidentally, because of course the nationality is not the issue but the ethno or the cultro backgro possibly could be...)

Anyway, back to the first paragraph, my point is that there is an assumption (often comes with the usual 'I don't know anything about Australian films') that Australian film is a genre in terms of style, approach etc. I was actually teaching a course in Australian film a few weeks ago, and we had sat through 8 or 9 when we got to The Bank about which one sassy camp student sneered 'Not bad for an Australian film'.

At the end of the day, I am reconciled to the idea that people don't have to like what I like, and it often comes very close to not giving a loose root if they do or not (an acquaintance of my father's believes everyone on earth would be friends if they only all played Aussie rules; I used to have a similarly missionary impulse about various insightful cultro artefos). But it does bother me that - particularly of course in Australia - there is still that little badge of pride some can wear, of ignorance about one's own culture.

Admittedly I come from the POV that a lot of my favourite films are Australian films. I don't think I like them because of that, I am not sure if I've turned into some kind of patriot or not, shoot me if I ever do. But I genuinely don't see, even given this country's proud multicultural tradition, how it can be good for any Australian who likes films to 'not like' (i.e. be deliberately ignorant of) Australian films.

By the way, three local productions I have recently admired:
Burke and Wills
The Jammed


danny said...

To me those comments also reflect a fundamental lack of confidence in the way the Australian film industry presents itself - on the one hand carving out some kind of nationalism, AFI awards, etc; on the other, every successful Australian filmmaker of note probably wants to move to the US which is where you get to set the agenda around what kinds of films are watched in Australia, e.g. the national distinctiveness is used defensively but will be easily jettisoned when Hollywood calls, because for me at least, growing up Australian meant growing up with a hell of a lot of US audiovisual culture, so we know it well. Maybe someone like Rolf de Heer's moving in a different direction. Anyway I don't know if you can put all the blame on the filmgoers for not being patriotic... :)

David said...

Hi Danny I think you misunderstand me if you think I think patriotism is the slightest issue.

* Surely 'every successful Australian filmmaker of note probably wants to move to the US' is along the lines of 'everyone who plays music wants a number one hit single' or 'everyone who writes wants to be Dan Brown/Enid Blyton/Colleen McCullough', though I don't know, because I know nothing about filmmakers really or what motivates them (presumably not one uniform issue).

* It is a moot point to me anyway what filmmakers do per se, as I want to see Australian films, not films made by Australian filmmakers in other countries. Technically speaking, I could be as interested in a film made in Australia by an overseas director, though the last one of those I saw (I think it was Lillian's Story) was a bit offputting.

Richard Forster said...

For what it is worth, I met a Chinese guy here in Hawaii a while ago and after discovering that I am Australian all he wanted to talk to me about was Australian films. I didn't know half of the directors that he wanted to gush over. I felt quite unpatriotic.

David said...

Stop talking about patriotism, please.

Anthony & Rochelle said...

I read today that Burke and Wills made about $5000 at the box office. Very sad for such a beaut film!

David said...

But it seems to have a strong DVD presence, which must count for something.