WHERE ARE OUR BRAVE EDITORS?

Melbourne Age contributor Traceeeeeee Hutchison—you may have encountered her previously—asks: Where are our brave filmmakers?

Probably in hiding, Tracee, in sympathy with our brave cartoonists. Let’s hear Tracee out:

It’s easy to love George Clooney at the moment. Not that it was ever terribly hard, but there’s a lot to be excited about a charismatic, intelligent man with a creative brain who isn’t afraid to use it.

Imagine fearing the use of a creative brain. Not a circumstance ever likely to trouble Tracee, but still.

As the ethical and moral stocks of the US continue to languish, Clooney’s less-than flattering celluloid assessment of the American Way is a comforting reminder that a significant part of the population didn’t want George Bush re-elected to the White House.

That significant part of the US population voted for John Kerry, and many subsequently sought psychiatric treatment. Next time, get treatment before voting.

Simultaneously, in Britain, the seemingly fearless Michael Winterbottom is continuing the heat with his latest offering, The Road to Guantanamo, which tells the story of three men from the English Midlands who end up on the wrong side of the tracks in Afghanistan and spend two years in US military detention in Cuba for their troubles.

“Seemingly fearless”? What’s Winterarse got to be frightened of? A bad review from Tracee? Not likely.

That the four actors who play al-Qaeda suspects in Winterbottom’s film were detained by police at a British airport this week on their way home from the festival and questioned under anti-terror laws says a lot about the level of hysterical paranoia that’s been whipped up around the globe …

They were briefly questioned. It’s the sort of thing you might reasonably expect following suicide bombings on buses and trains.

Perhaps that’s the reason Australian feature filmmakers aren’t making films like Good Night and Good Luck or Road to Guantanamo.

Because they don’t want to be asked questions at airports?

It’s a convincing enough argument …

If you say so.

… but I’m not sure it’s the right one because this is precisely the time we need our filmmakers to be telling rigorous and fearless stories about the Australian condition. It can’t all be the fault of the newly enshrined sedition laws that we’re not seeing them.

Please click over to Opinion Dominion for a smackdown on this particular point. Tracee, her synapses crackling and fizzing like damp fireworks, next outlines the Australian films she’d like to see:

The revelations of the Cole inquiry, the show trial of terror suspect Joseph Thomas, the detention of West Papuan asylum seekers on Christmas Island. Cronulla. Scott Parkin’s deportation. Great feature film scripts, all of them.

So go ahead and write ‘em, Tracee. Cole inquiry? I’m thinking Wheat! The Musical! Show trial of terror suspect Joseph Thomas? That’s got to be Jihad Jacking to the Maxxx, plus a contempt of court sentence for Tracee and her editor. The detention of West Papuan asylum seekers on Christmas Island? Already subject to a Hollywood bidding war, no doubt. Cronulla? Er, sure. A feature on Scott Parkin’sdeportation? You’d need 89 minutes of backstory to pad that sucker out to an even hour-and-a-half.

At least Phillip Noyce had the conviction to tell a chapter of the “stolen generation” story in Rabbit-Proof Fence in 2000. His was a tiny budget, no-name cast, self-produced triumph.

The budget for Rabbit-Proof Fence was $A10.2 million, which may or may not have included a marketing budget “to befit its status as an international production with a leading Hollywood director.” That’s about double the cost of an average Australian feature. No-name cast? The film starred Kenneth Branagh plus three well-known local actors. Self-produced? Not exactly; the film had three producers, including screenwriter Christine Olsen.

So why are our filmmakers not rising to the same political challenges? We are definitely not bereft of the intellectual rigour or creative talent to make it happen.

Tracee talking about “intellectual rigour” is like Stephen Hawking talking about white-water rafting.

Or perhaps we just don’t care enough or have the courage to embrace our stories, warts and all. Perhaps it’s easier for us to watch the way we fall in love or scare ourselves to death on dark, lonely highways than look ourselves squarely in the eye and see what kind of country we have created.

At last, she makes a good point; we’ve created the kind of country where Tracee Hutchison is paid to write factless gibberish. Look away. Look away!

Posted by Tim B. on 02/27/2006 at 07:59 AM
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