Still Staying Away In Droves

Here We Go Again!

Pleiades sent in this link today. It’s the aftermath of the AACTA Awards.

The Australian Academy is, by all reports, the brainchild of cherished Australian actor and current Australian of the Year Geoffrey Rush. It emerged from a review of the AFI conducted last year. Among its many laudable goals are celebrating the craft and skill of filmmaking, enhancing public interest in Australian screen culture and, perhaps most importantly, rescuing the annual awards ceremony from the increasing irrelevance it was sliding towards under the old AFI structure.

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. The AFIs were dowdy and unpopular. Australian film seemed perennially to be in the doldrums. No one wanted to watch the films that won prizes, or the prize night itself.
And so the new awards were moved to the January-February window, to take advantage of Oscars fever in the US.

As the AACTA’s website relates:“In line with international best-practice models, AACTA draws upon some of the well recognised and understood elements of the AMPAS (USA) and BAFTA (UK) models, while tailoring these to meet local industry needs and traditions, and to ensure that the AACTA organsiaton model and the AACTA Awards remain distinctly Australian.”

A new TV deal was signed with the Nine Network. Hollywood A-list stars were lured back to our shores to present awards — or at least to an accompanying US-based event, where they could be beamed to the Sydney Opera House on the night to show their long-distance support. No effort was spared to spruce up the glamour, and put back a little razzle-dazzle.

Judging by the ratings, however, it didn’t work. The AACTAs largely failed to catch fire with Tuesday night television audiences, attracting a desultory 314,000 viewers nationally for a delayed 9.30pm telecast. That’s a little bit better than last year’s AFIs, but well short of what Nine would have been hoping for.

Why the hell would you watch it? I don’t even understand why people watch Awards shows like the Golden Globes and the Oscars so it escapes me what possible benefit there could be in watching an Awards show built around Australian film & TV content. I know it’s curmudgeonly to say it, but it’s true. Awards shows suck. The concept of handing out industry awards – in general – suck. Look, if they were handing out an award and they gave it to me for my film effort, I’d take it. You’d be a mug to turn it down, but it doesn’t change the fact that an award for a film is a bit like a derivative of a derivative of the film, with no immediate connection to the value of the film itself. So apart from the people who are actually there to feel like they’re in the running for a statue, what on earth could possess any entertainment value? And what if you just didn’t care about the people or the films being talked about? – because let’s face it, the Australian public sure as hell don’t care. Why would there be an audience for an Awards show for a a film industry people didn’t watch? Explain me that, Batman! 🙂

So naturally this is the bit that I beg to differ:

It is possible that Australia is on the cusp of a new golden era of cinema, if only we’re prepared to recognise what it looks like. The future of media in general is likely to be split into ever more and smaller niches, and in a sense this levels the playing field to allow small-budget Australian films to compete at festivals such as Sundance. In contrast, cinema in its big-budget manifestations may well have had its day, at least in the dominant sense of blockbuster mass-market culture.

If it were, I did not notice. I’m not being gratuitously mean; I’m just being as sanguine as I can be.

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Filed under Cinema, Film, Movies

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