An Outsider's View ...

by Ivan Gaal

Till the age of 18 I grew up in another culture in Europe, under a communist government.

Coming to Australia at that young age and seeing mainly American films, the experience always left me "empty".

For me these films lacked any real "core" which I was used to seeing in films under the communist system.

I never had a chance to see any early Australian feature films, they were not easily available in the 1950s and 1960s in Australia.

As a result, I searched out European films in art house cinemas and film festivals.

The first film about Australia I saw was Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout. This film for me captured the Australian landscape, the loneliness and the loss of innocence of the Aboriginal people.

It said something about this country and it had a "core".

Then came Wake in Fright by Ted Kotcheff. It totally engaged me. I felt that the book and the film captured the Australian psyche, which I have experienced myself as a migrant.

Wake in Fright

Images from these two films are still with me and I consider them the best films about this country and the people who are living in it.

I think that today the filmmakers who make honest gritty films about us are the short filmmakers, animators and independent filmmakers. They are not controlled by bureaucracy and censorship from script assessors. They are free to experiment and speak their minds. I admire them for that.

Today's feature films in this country are too obsessed with entertainment, trendy issues, technical perfection and union governed crews. (To be fair, though, I do like Ivan Sen's films which deal accurately with contemporary and Indigenous issues.)

It's not easy to make films that make you think as well as entertain you.

Unfortunately the Australian Feature Film Industry is not on that road!

Ivan Gaal is a long time interdependent photographer & filmmaker.

Published March 27, 2018. © Ivan Gaal, March 2018