“The Black Balloon” wins awards…but

This year’s winner of six awards at the Australian Film Industry event was “The Black Balloon”. It’s exactly the sort of film that is keeping audiences away from Aussie films. In my previous blog I gave my views on that and “The Black Balloon” only reinforces my opinion.

I wish that Aussie film makers would face reality and get beyond blue, for a change.

Here is a typical scenario of a potential cinema goer. It’s Saturday night and you decide to take your girlfriend to the movies. Would you choose a film about a dysfunctional family—aren’t we all dysfunctional, anyway? Would you want to watch autism tearing a family apart? Would you want to munch cheerfully on pop corn while an autistic adolescent is ranting and raving in public on the screen?

Would you leave the cinema feeling happy and romantic and perhaps hoping for more than a cup of coffee at her home? Or would you just want to sit in silence wishing that you had chosen a different film?

Autism is a reality and yes, it is a tragedy, but during recessions and people losing jobs and homes, audiences need relief, unless they are some sort of sado-masochists who get off on other people’s suffering.

During the Great Depression, the American musical comedy was thriving. People went to see Shirley Temple and Charlie Chaplin, just to experience some moments of hilarity in their gloomy lives.

Here we are in the midst of a recession or depression or whatever you want to call it and people are hurting out there. So what does the Australian film industry produce? Misery, guilt and tragedy. That should brighten up a date!

I’m amazed that Australian film producers don’t include a whip with every ticket sold. A few scarlet welts should guarantee a perfect evening, for some people perhaps, but not for the average movie-goer.

Perhaps these films are made to win awards rather than box office success. In that case, the producers have achieved what they wanted. Lots of pretty little statues in their display cabinets!


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