The Australian film industry is virtually non-existent. The Australian consumer does not bother to see them and the only films that get made are through government funded bodies such as Screen Australia or Film Victoria. Most of the films are pretentious arthouse films, about suffering, depressing in nature and often with a politically correct agenda where it is trying to preach to its audience.
Finally there is one Australia film director who has called out this out, on ABC Radio no less. Port Adelaide film director Mike Retter has said the problem is “Australia’s art films are middle brow and usually jammed with ideology, the same ideology, the university elite point of view that does not reflect the rest of society and frankly doesn’t reflect reality”.
He blames government funding of the Australian film industry for its current state as when applying for a grant art bureaucrats want films that “tick the box of politically correct ideology and identity politics regardless of whether it reflected mainstream reality or not”. Often they a proposed film needed to have an “oppressor-oppressed” narrative.
To illustrate this fact Retter talks about how government funding for his second film Youth On The March about a teenage stoner living with his single mother and watching his life drift by was rejected because of its supposed “sexism” because of its use of an archetype or a typical character reflective of suburban reality adding “So many people are changing their scripts and their concepts to fit what they know will get funding, kind of like on autopilot”.
Retter also laments “we don’t know how to make a populist film anymore either” and that “I could probably tell you 12 films about rape and sexual violence and torture because that’s what’s taken over the art film genre in this country, but when was the last time we made a Christmas movie in this country?”
But Retter rather than just making his own independent films free from the constraints of government funding is trying to foster a new independent film movement starting with a new film society and bar in his native Adelaide called Sax & Violins Film Society. He also wants to launch a new website and magazine devoted to Australian alternative cinema.
Retter is optimistic he can break the cultural elite’s grip on our film industry “I feel like we could be reaching a sort of critical mass where there’s an independent arts culture here, because until there is one, it’s kind of dead, it’s monolithic, stagnant, safe and politically correct”. He finishes by reinforcing “political correctness is the death of art.”
Of course Australian cinema is not alone with following the politically correct dogma, Hollywood is gradually pushing more social justice films. However since Hollywood is financed through private funds and needs to turn a profit it at least still manages to produce ample entertaining blockbuster films which makes sure the cinema seats are full. When was the last time Australia had a blockbuster film or one that had a lasting legacy in our nation’s culture?
We wish Retter the best of luck in his quest to change the Australian film industry, hopefully one day Australian consumers will see Australian films not because they feel the ought to, but because they want to and know they will be entertained.