Australian cinema has a bit of an image problem.
How do we market Australian films? How do we get more people to go and see them?
"You just can't get laid while watching Australian films."
Are Aussie films perhaps not as preoccupied with sweeping blockbusters, happy endings, and the 'epic' quality of Hollywood cinema?
Since the 1990s where many Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander filmmakers/actors started becoming more prevalent, some of the most "shiny and sparkly" films have come from the Indigenous arena. Why is this? Perhaps through the indigenous experience Australians have finally found something unique that they can offer the world.
There are so many interesting and important Aboriginal stories that haven't been told due to ministerial control and their only recent 'freedom'.
We were asked: "What comes to mind when thinking of an Australian 'national' cinema?"
- Culturally significant, in terms of funding
- Social identity
In order to get government funding, you often have to argue a nationalist line - that it's culturally significant, and that it has importance to society.
A national cinema offers a unique cinema which categorises textually, industrially and contextually.
Australian cinema exists as part of a global cinema, with Australian filmmakers being more and more likely to be transnational.
Gillian Armstrong, who made the film My Brilliant Career (1979), was the first woman to direct a feature film in 46 years.
"What's so important about a national culture? It's our identity as Australians. It's what makes us unique: our language, our idioms, our character, our stories, our humour, our outlook on life. These things are not fixed but are challenged and reaffirmed by our cultural expression. They are reflected by the stories we tell and the images we see..." Gillian Armstrong
Australian cinema was/is? also very male dominated in characterisation - Larrikins in The Sentimental Bloke (a silent film, 1919, with more information here), Crocodile Dundee, and Kenny
Rabbit Proof Fence (2002) was made a decade after the Mabo decision yet before the Apology to the Stolen Generations. This period of time was one where many Australians came to question concepts they had previously taken for granted, and brought the concept of 'stolen land' and 'stolen children' to the forefront of the public arena.
Rabbit Proof Fence won multiple AFI awards at the box office, with an auteur director (Phillip Noyce) who had been a key figure in Australian cinema since before the revival. However, he is a 'white' filmmaker, and does this make a difference when dealing with a story of the Stolen Generations?
The movie had to deal with Indigenous filming protocols, and also in working with children (especially those who are not 'actors'). There were also ethical issues as the film was based on a real story. According to Lisa French, when the film was shown to Molly and Daisy, Daisy was embarrassed because she gets carried a lot of the way in the film, and said, 'It's not my story'. Is is possible to ever tell the complete truth? Or are all stories just fictional constructs?