Arts minister asks filmmakers to take responsibility

MELBOURNE — Australia’s federal arts minister Peter Garrett told the country’s filmmakers on Friday that they must shoulder some responsibility for the industry’s failings.

In his first speech to the film biz since he was appointed minister of the new Labor government late last year, Garrett told delegates of the Melbourne Film Festival’s marketplace, 37 South, “It is time for the industry to re-examine the way it does business so it can aspire not only to cultural independence but also to new levels of financial independence, too.”

Despite state and federal coin at near record highs, as a proportion of all film funding, Australian films are not doing well at home or abroad.

It’s been two years since the low-budget portapotty comedy “Kenny” snowballed from obscurity into a mainstream hit in cinemas and ancillary.

No Oz pics have been selected for Cannes since 2006, when there were five, including Rolf de Heer’s Yolngu-language comedy “Ten Canoes,” which won critical acclaim.

Garrett promised new federal coin agency Screen Australia would be responsive to the industry.

Some bizzers, have damned it as overly bureaucratic and detached from the practitioners it is supposed to serve.

“You will be supported for developing productions that attract strong financial backing and are genuinely appealing to audiences,” Garrett said.

“You will be rewarded for writing scripts that excite leading Australian producers, directors, cinematographers and actors to come back to Australia.”

“The Australian Government has put robust and generous support mechanisms in place which allow you to build your businesses and realize longterm ambitions for growth through developing slates of projects, rather than struggling from one project to the next.”

Garrett’s speech at the Forum Theater preceeded the fests’s opening night screening of feature doc “Not Quite Hollywood.”

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