Sunday 11 September 2016

Sydney - Cosmopolitan City of Cinema...or Not...

I have had a few comments about a piece written by Gary Maddox for the Sydney Morning Herald which had the centre pages of the weekend Spectrum a couple of weeks ago. You can still find it online if you click here. The hardcore cinephile community were simply outraged at what they saw as simplistic stupidity in trying to suggest that Sydney was cinephile heaven.

Needless to say I assumed that nobody would be bothered to do anything about it, including moi. The Sydney Morning Herald, only recently the avenue for us to read Alan Ramsey, David Marr, Mike Carlton and more is now a cheap and tawdry publication so who cares if this puff is what it is reduced to. That was moi speaking again....

But up to the plate stepped Sydney's supercinephile Barrie Pattison with a letter to the editor. Needless to say the paper did not publish. Here it is in full.

Congratulations to Gary Maddox for his discovery (“It’s the Reel Deal” SMH 27 Aug.) of a parallel universe where the local film scene is thriving. 
Unfortunately the rest of us inhabit the one where things are at an all time low. With the Turnbull cuts to funding, the National Film Lending Collection has been run down and venues established for decades like the Chauvel Cinematheque and the WEA Film Study Group have evaporated as did the National Film Theatre, repertory cinemas and the MCA screenings before them. SBS has banished sub titles to the small hours to make way for ratings boosters like Apocalypse Now and Reanimator.

Yes, it is nice to have a few film makers spruiking their latest product but this activity, like the retro screenings, is all hitched to profitability. If live theater, poetry, classical music or gallery art were handled with so little understanding, the ABC and the Sydney Morning Herald would be ablaze with indignation.

We are told that local film making (and preservation) should absorb all the funding but not told that the point where credible Australian productions came to a halt in the seventies was where serious enthusiast activity here, with it’s screenings, magazines and commentators, was wiped out.

In France, when their Cinematheque started pre-WW2, their films began their on-going domination of  the international Art Cinema scene. Now every day seven Paris screens are filled with “curated” programming and Sydney, which they want us to believe is significant cosmopolitan centre, doesn’t have one. Someone should tell Canberra that!

No seriously, someone should tell Canberra that.

Barrie Pattison

Don't look for Ti Lung and David Chiang on SBS any more - or at least not before 1:00 am

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