Sunday, October 14, 2012

As I sip my soy latte in the Screen Australia foyer...

Sitting in the foyer at Screen Australia’s Sydney office (wonderful view through the window) wading through marked up correspondence from me (handed to me in person by Ruth Harley) in search of evidence that I have intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff - these crimes being the reason for my having been banned. As I do so I am consuming a rather pleasant soy latte bought for me by Fiona Cameron and delivered by Nick Coyle. 

I’m not having much luck finding evidence of my crimes but then I would say that, wouldn’t I! Here are a few highlighted examples:

From my letter to Julia Gillard dated 29th May this year

I agree with Harley that if I am guilty of harassment, intimidation and placing her staff at risk, her banning me from having any further communication with the tax-payer funded organisation she heads up is not an inappropriate course of action.  Indeed, given the unpleasant images conjured up by placing her staff ‘at risk’ it would not be unreasonable for her to take out an AVO against me. Some evidence of the charges laid against me would be appreciated, however, given the draconian nature of the sentence handed down by Harley.

If being banned is not draconian, I’d hate to be on the receiving end of a draconian sentence handed down by Ruth Harley! Is the highlighted sentence here evidence of intimidation and placing SA staff at risk? 

And here’s one from letter to Ruth dated 30th May - close to three weeks after she handed down her fatwa:

How wonderfully simple and less time-consuming our legal system and conflict resolution processes would be if the Ruth Harley Star Chamber approach were to be adopted. There would be no need for evidence, no concept of the presumption of innocence, no right of the accused to present his or her case and no right of appeal. Indeed, no opportunity for the accused to engage in any kind of dialogue with the accuser...

It goes on. I’ll pick it up further into my letter: 

Perhaps, by implying that you might call off your fatwa, you were hoping that I might realise that my best interests would be served in ceasing to be a public critic of Screen Australia. Or, to be more precise, being a critic of the autocratic way in which you and Fiona run Screen Australia - the primary focus of Fiona’s attention being on the correct filling out of forms and not on the quality of the ideas or screenplays that the forms accompany in the making of an application. I should qualify this. The strict adherence to the filling out of forms, to the placing of ticks in the right boxes, applies only when senior management at Screen Australia chooses to apply it. The strict adherence to guidelines becomes much less strict, however, (and often abandoned completely) when it suits members of senior management  at Screen Australia. The playing field is not level and anyone who complains about this will have their complaint dealt with by someone (Fiona) who has demonstrated here lack of commitment to the playing field remaining level.

Can someone please explain to me how the highlighted segment of my letter to Ruth is intimidating and places members of Screen Australia staff at risk?

Here’s one to Nick Coyle, who recently handed me my soy latte:

Screen Australia’s contempt for the precepts of transparency and accountability never cease to amaze.

There are many observations that could be made about this and the highlighted segments above but do any of them warrant the banning of a filmmaker?

Here’s some more evidence given to me by Ruth Harley of my tendency to intimidate and place at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff - from a letter to Fiona Cameron dated 2nd Feb. 2011:

Of course this question, like all of my questions, cannot and will not be answered because you have decreed that it will be so. You have, to date, demonstrated zero commitment to the ideals of transparency and accountability but have revealed yourself to be a master of spin.”

And here’s part of an email to Julia Overton sent on 21st April, 2011, the intimidating parts highlighted:

In her Nov letter, Fiona writes: “Unfortunately it appears from your correspondence that you came away from that meeting with an understanding that your application for further funding for ‘Chanti’s World’ had been effectively green lit. This is not the case. Nor could it be.”

On several occasions I have asked Fiona to present me with evidence from my correspondence in support of her proposition that I came away from the meeting believing that ‘Chanti’s World’ had been greenlit. She has not done so.

Have you seen any such correspondence? Are you aware of the existence of any such correspondence?

For Fiona to suggest that I went into our August meeting with the expectation or hope that I would come out of it with ‘Chanti’s World’ greenlit is, by implication, to accuse me of being corrupt. To suggest that I came way from the meeting presuming that ‘Chanti’s World’ had been greenlit implicates you and Ross in corruption also or, alternatively,  desp[iter 40 years of ewxperience as a filmmaker, I am so stupid as to believe that yours and Ross’s declaration that I was eligible to apply for development funds could be construed as ‘Chanti’s World’ having been effectively greenlit.

What Fiona has written here is a form of professional defamation.”

One has to draw a very long bow (much longer than I am capable of) to find in these highlighted segments evidence of intimidation or of my having placed Screen Australia staff at risk! And, of course, it transpired, after 20 months of asking, when I was finally provided with copies of the correspondence in which Fiona claimed that I believed my 'Chanti's World' application had been 'greenlit' it contained (surprise, surprise!) no such references at all. But then facts play very little role in the way in which Fiona Cameron constructs her narratives. More worrying, neither Ruth Harley or the Screen Australia board have any problem with the fact and a demonstrable one, if anyone bothered to look at the evidence) that the Chief Operating Officer of the organization plays fast and loose with the truth.

And just one final example of the Alice in Wonderland thinking that infects the parallel universe that is Screen Australia. The following is an extract from an email to Liz Crosby on 13th Sept. Liz is a significant player in this soap opera because she overheard Ross Mathews, Julia Overton and Claire Jager all admit to having not seen my CHANTI'S WORLD 'promo' on mid 2009 – the point at which this long-running dispute began.

Dear Liz Crosby

Not only is my dispute with Screen Australia going to wind up in the Supreme Court of Nsw but it is highly likely (indeed, almost certain) that the pre-sale I have been offered for 'Chanti's World' will be withdrawn when it becomesd apparent to the broadcaster that regardless of the pre-sale, regardless of my having ticks in all the right boxes, Screen Australia will not invest in the film because I have, Ruth Harley claims, written intimidating correspondence to you, or Claire or Ross or to all three of you. I donpt know what I wrote or when because Screen Australia will not provide me with any information at all regarding what I have supposedly written and when that bears witness to my propensity for intimidation. You know full well that I have never sought to intimidate you in any way and it would be really handy, Liz, if you were to come out and say so. Or, alternatively, produce some evidence that I have intimidated you.

That the last two sentences should be presented to me as evidence that I have intimidated and placed at risk a member of Screen Australia's staff is extraordinary. Requesting of Liz that she produce evidence that I have intimidated her in my correspondence itself evidence of intimidation!

And the Screen Australia board accepts this (along with the other examples above) as grounds upon which to ban a filmmaker and effectively end his career! 

Rachel Perkins, what were you thinking!? 

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