CANNES FILM FESTIVAL AND AUSTRALIAN FILMS
Has the Minister for State Development and Minister for Arts received advice about the number of Australian films being invited to compete at the Cannes Film Festival? Is the New South Wales Film and Television Office supporting any of the entrants?
Order! I call the honourable member for Broken Hill to order. I call the honourable member for Granville to order.
I thank the honourable member for The Hills for his question and acknowledge the presence in the public gallery today of a number of students from schools in the honourable member's electorate.
Order! I call the honourable member for Broken Hill to order for the second time.
A record five Australian films have been invited to compete at this year's Cannes Film Festival. All five films have had substantial New South Wales connections and four of them have received direct financial assistance from the New South Wales Film and Television Office. That
reflects very well on the performance of the Film and Television Office and the programs that it offers. Honourable members will recall that the office also supported last year's runaway success "Strictly Ballroom". The four films that received direct Film and Television Office support are: "The Piano", directed by Jane Campion; "Frauds", directed by Stephan Elliott; "Broken Highway", directed by Laurie McInnes; and "Excursion to the Bridge of Friendship", directed by Christina Andreef.
And the winner is!
Order! I call the honourable member for Londonderry to order.
And the winner is each and every one of those films.
Order! The Chair appreciates the enthusiastic support for the Australian film industry but would ask honourable members to listen to the answer with more decorum.
The honourable member for Londonderry was actually making a very important point, and I thank him for his timely interjection. The winner is: the State of New South Wales. A fifth film is another winner: "Bedevil", another New South Wales film, directed by Tracy Moffatt.
Order! I call the honourable member for Ermington to order for the second time.
We are proud of all five films. Film and Television Office support was provided in a range of ways, in each case providing small but essential funding at a critical stage of development. It is a pity that in the case of "Broken Highway" the office was not, at that critical stage, able to provide strategic production investment and, as a result, the film was shot in Queensland. However, post-production was undertaken in Sydney, as was the post-production of Jane Campion's "The Piano". Sydney remains the pre-eminent post-production centre for the film industry.
The Government is determined to maintain Sydney's position as the overall centre of the Australian film and television industry. Honourable members will know that in recent years some market share has been lost to other States, notably Queensland and Victoria, and some projects have been lost also to New Zealand, which compete aggressively for any film that is coming on to the market. Our success in being invited to compete at the Cannes Film Festival demonstrates the critical strength of the New South Wales film and television industry. At present nine feature films are in pre-production or production in and around Sydney, and I believe they are splendid examples of the Government's assistance in restating Sydney's central role in the Australian industry.
Recent projects and those under way include "Crime Broker"; the low-budget feature, "The Roly Poly Man"; the telemovie and series pilot, "Singapore Sling"; and "Sirens", a new film based on the life of Norman Lindsay, starring Sam Neill and Elle McPherson. The Film and Television Office was allocated $500,000 in the current financial year for strategic production investment. That sum has been matched with a further $500,000 from the Ministry for the Arts, making a $1 million production investment fund. The results to date have been spectacular. According to the report of the KPMG Peat Marwick group and film industry analysts in Entertainment Business Review
, expenditure to date of $850,000 has supported six projects into production and a seventh getting under way, with total production costs to be spent in this State of more than $16 million.
This will eventually lead to an increase in New South Wales gross State production of more than $25 million and more than 700 new jobs, most of which will be not in the film industry but in associated service industries. These figures do not take into account profits, or tourism generated or cultural benefits. The benefits support a case for not only maintaining the fund but, if it is at all possible in our economic circumstances, increasing it. The national film industry is worth $1.3 billion each year and it delivers huge economic benefit to the local industry, even if there is not a "Strictly Ballroom" every year. Our State success at this year's Cannes Film Festival is extremely encouraging.
Are you going?
No. Just to be invited is an honour and distinction much like being nominated for an Oscar. Whether or not we actually win, we in New South Wales, particularly young Australians represented in the gallery here today, should be justly proud of the achievements of the Australian film industry, and the New South Wales industry's success in being invited to compete at Cannes this year.