Q: How many arts bureaucrats does it take to rescue a nation’s film industry?
A: At least a dozen – as long as there’s a trip to Cannes thrown in, luvvies.

While
Australia’s representation at Cannes this year was slim – only two
Aussie films won their way into competition at the festival – the film
festival was full of junketeering arts fat cats from Australia and New
Zealand. And while New Zealand Film Commission got itself into trouble
for sending ten representatives to Cannes, a large contingent of
schmoozing Australian bureaucrats managed to slip under the radar –
until now.

Apparently the Australian Film Commission
restricted itself to six representatives at Cannes. But add the folk
from the Film Finance Corporation (at least two) and the state funding
agencies, NSW FTO, Film Victoria, PFTC, SAFC (at least one from each),
and you get a dozen or more Artocrats wandering around Cannes.

All
those people to chaperone a grand total of two Aussie films. And then
there’s the myriad of other international film festivals and television
markets with odd acronyms, such as Annecy and MIPCOM, frequented by the
bureaucratic crowd.

Assess this largesse against these facts:

  • Australian films only took 1.3% of the box office last year (when overall cinema receipts had increased by something like 5%).
  • We only made 15 feature films, about half the average amount in recent years.
  • Our television production is at an all time low, with the ABC producing around 20% of the local drama it did ten years ago.
  • The biggest Australian film internationally appears to be Wolf Creek – a super low budget film

It’s
astonishing that so many bureaucrats need to go to international
festivals. But it would also be interesting to know just how many
artists, film makers and new media producers went to oZeculture – DCITA’s big conference in Byron Bay in April.

The
conference was top-heavy with bureaucrats from the Film Commission,
Australia Council, the Department – and most of them were from Canberra
or Sydney. They could have held the same meetings and gabfests in
Sydney. But Byron is so nice that time of year…

Nice work if you can get it. Sadly, most film makers or artists can’t. Check out our list of arts outrages here. And read this report by former Australia Council chief Rodney Hall that started it all.

Peter Fray

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