Unlike Louis Nowra, I love sitting in a movie theatre with no one around me. However, I agreed with much of his analysis of Australian cinema (‘Nowhere Near Hollywood’, December 2009–January 2010). There are some interesting bigger picture questions that should be considered alongside his essay. It’s not only in Australia that many films are failures. There are a lot of films made in Hollywood (and around the world) that are not successful. Does Nowra’s clear summary of the characteristics of our films suggest we should be looking at the funding bodies and those that work in them, asking if they need to take some responsibility for the situation the industry finds itself in? These bodies certainly seem to have lost sight of story and entertainment. So often, the Australian film (like the Australian novel) is asked to carry the weight of too many social problems. Is it any wonder no one goes to see these films in which issues dominate where story and people should?
Times have changed, as Nowra says, and perhaps Australian filmmakers need to understand that most Australians think of themselves as middle-class. They buy their furniture at Ikea. They go on holiday to Bali and Bolivia and Boston. They have plasma televisions. There is something deeply insulting about the way film-makers continually portray Australians as living in dark houses with op-shop furniture and bits of material nailed up over the windows. Not everyone, after all, is a bohemian.