So now I have seen the second program…

19 Nov

You may recall I said I regarded two this week as “must see”. Tonight’s was even more must see, in my opinion, than Monday’s, and by any sane standards or values far more worth while, far more substantial, far more significant than the much hyped Australia – though that I have not seen. I am just saying that in principle a campy fantasy Australia on which probably obscene amounts of money have already been spent is, when you come down to it, more than a little questionable. Yes, I know that will seem rather puritan, is a comparison of apples and oranges, and it may just be my passing mood. If I do see Australia I may well find much to enjoy in it.

It is a fact, however, that tonight’s A Well Founded Fear was not only a very well-made film, but an utterly devastating experience, which ought to be spliced into next week’s Howard Years as a balance to the same old same old that some will no doubt come up with. Indeed, imagine them running split screen! What a juxtaposition that would be!

The depths to which we fell in those years on the matter of refugee policy infuriated and shamed me at the time, but there were things shown tonight – let’s call it government and official duplicity and that is to soften things – which I didn’t know, and I am sure few of us did. Deporting people with false one-way passports to countries they hadn’t even come from, for example. And in case that is ambiguous, it was our Immigration Department involved in the false passports.

It was, fortunately, not only devastating. The sheer decency of those who care, who made the film or caused it to be made, and the sheer courage and decency of many of our rejects – all those gave cause for hope.

May people on the Opposition side like Petro Georgiou be strengthened in what they are doing, and may Kevin Rudd and company do even more – and they have done quite a lot – to undo this despicable legacy of the Howard Years.

I make no apology for the epithets I have chosen. They are the most accurate in the lexicon for the perpetrators and for their craven publicists and apologists in the media.

Another must see?

Little Fish (2005) is an Australian film which may well also be more significant, in real terms, than Australia – and it is a feature film too, not a documentary. I haven’t seen it but recall people who did praising it highly. It is on ABC on Sunday night. And it has Cate Blanchett, Sam Neill and Hugo Weaving….

Next day

I should add, too, that while A Well Founded Fear was harrowing and evoked some rage in me, as you saw, it was also very inspiring. Full marks to the Edmund Rice Centre and Phil Glendenning, just a marvellous human being. Go there and you will find you can do something about the issue!


4 responses to “So now I have seen the second program…

  1. Jim Belshaw

    November 20, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Not arguing a case, Neil,but despite its name cast and crime genre, Little Fish pulled $US3.2 million at the box office, $2.7 million in Australia (not bad by recent standards), most of the rest in the UK. I hadn’t heard of Little Fish until you mentioned it, so had to look it up.

    Leave aside the discussion as to cause, there does seem to be a pattern. I have been reasonably consistent in my views over time. Back in 1987 when I was in fact responsible for a brief period for some industry development aspects of the film industry, I argued to John Button that one of the industry’s problems was that it had become a game park for cultural lions!

    As happens when I get a bee in my bonnet, I will probably gnaw away at this one for a while until I at least have some of the issues clear in my mind. In my own case, I have gone from someone who once organised a film festival to celebrate the burgeoning of Australian film to someone who is reluctant to see a film if it is Australian.

    There have been some very good Australian films. Looking for Alibrandi comes to mind because it was a film I saw by accident and really loved.

    The reasons that I am suggesting for the decline are only part of the story. My hesitation about my own perceptions is that they are at best partial. I actually need a lot more evidence about what has really happened before I can know the validity of my own gut judgements.

  2. Neil

    November 20, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I haven’t seen Looking for Alibrandi yet, but will watch out for the DVD in Surry Hills Library. Mentioning DVDs raises another thing to consider too. I suspect that many are like me and tend to get their movies that way rather than in the cinema, especially when a public library like Surry Hills offers them at no cost! (I am sure rights are paid for each borrowing…)

  3. Jim Belshaw

    November 20, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Please do find Alibrandi Neil.I may be wrong, but I think that you will love it. It has so many elements that fit with the things that you argue about or care for.

    To begin with, there is a picture of eastern suburbs school life. Then it is urban. Then it is about a migrant community. And, overall, I think that is simply fun.

    You would argue, I think, that an Australian story does not need to fit within stereoptypes from the past. That’s true. There are so many Australian stories that are interesting because they bring out our diversity. But we lose them.

    Point re DVD’s noted.

  4. Neil

    November 22, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Sorry to note that Petro Georgiou is quitting politics at the end of his current term, apparently.

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