Mia Wasikowska, George Brandis Make Marks

Minister warns on piracy and limits of legislation

HONG KONG – Mia Wasikowska will this week be named as “star of the year” at the Australian International Movie Convention (Oct. 14-17.) Her award is one of several lighter notes in a conference that otherwise takes on heavyweight issues of piracy, legislation, new media challenges to the film industry and engaging with audiences.

The four day event on Queensland’s Gold Coast delivers a series of alternating serious debates, movie premieres and more light-hearted sections. These include a golf tournament on Sunday before Monday’s official opening, Wasikowska’s prize and a movie quiz later in the week. Sunday night also included a gala screening of Tom Hanks-starrer “Captain Phillips.”

Proceedings kicked off on Monday with speeches by Rentrak’s Steve Ashmore; executive director National Association of Cinema Operators – Australasia, Michael Hawkins; and Mark Wooldridge, chairman of the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia.

In an opening keynote speech, Queensland Senator George Brandis, who is also Australia’s Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts, said that industry and government must both do their bit to combat film piracy and keep up with changes brought on by digital technology.

“We are all awaiting the Australian Law Commission’s final report on copyright which is to be provided to the government at the end of next month. The government will consider the commission’s findings and any recommendations carefully,” he said. “In times of turbulent change, industry cannot rely solely on government to fix all the problems that arise… Protection of copyright materials isn’t simply a matter of law or government intervention, it is importantly a matter of practice.”

Brandis also dropped a hint that Australia will continue to provide competitive levels of financial incentive to local and international film and TV productions that shoot in Australia.

“During the election campaign I undertook to keep the thresholds of the offset under review and I reaffirm that commitment today,” he said.

Wasikowska is in France shooting the title role in Sophie Barthes’ “Madame Bovary,” but her new film “Tracks” (pictured) directed by John Curran, will play at the AIMC to exhibitors and distributors.

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