Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose!
Barring a last minute miracle, Ruth Harley, with the Screen Australia Board’s blessing, has effectively ended my career as an Australia filmmaker for the time being. I will, I am sure, be able to pick it up again once Ruth Harley is gone (ASAP, please Mr Crean!) and when there is a majority on the Screen Australia board firmly of the opinion that the production of evidence should play a significant role when trying and convicting a filmmaker for crimes such as intimidation and placing members of SA staff.
This morning I have written to the international broadcaster informing it of my position vis a vis Screen Australia.
Dear XXX and YYY
Thank you very much for your interest in providing a pre-sale for ‘Chanti’s World’ and for all the time and effort you have put into viewing my ‘promos’ and discussing with me ways in which the resultant documentary might best suit your broadcast platform. Unfortunately, it is not possible for me to continue negotiations with you. A pre-sale from ZZZ, when we finally agreed upon a contract that served both ZZZ’s and my own creative ends, would only be of value if I were able to use it, in accordance with Screen Australia guidelines, to seek investment funds from that organization. However, in May this year Ruth Harley, Chief Executive Officer at Screen Australia informed me that the Screen Australia board had resolved that I would henceforth be unable to make applications of any kind to Screen Australia for development or investment funds. The reason given was that I had intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff. Ms Harley has provided me with no evidence at all in support of this contention – hardly surprising given that I have never intimidated or placed at risk any member of Screen Australia’s staff. My being effectively banned was (and remains) an act of spiteful retribution for my having been a public critic of the organization since its inception.
My apologies for not having informed you of this hitch back in May when it occurred but I had hoped that common sense would prevail and, when it became apparent to the Screen Australia Board and/or the office of the Ombudsman that the correspondence I have supposedly written does not exist, that I would receive an appropriate apology from the board and that the ban on me would be lifted. Alas, this has not occurred. The Screen Australia board, along with the office of the Ombudsman, have no interest at all in whether or not the correspondence exists, perhaps because both would have a considerable amount of egg on their faces if they were to ask that the correspondence be produced at this late date, only to discover that it does not exist. They could, of course, have asked to see the correspondence in May. They did not.
Again, thank you for your interest. There is a small chance that the situation vis a vis ‘Chanti’s World’ and Screen Australia might change before 19th Oct but I think that a snowflake in hell has a better chance!
The snowflake in hell possibility is that the Ombudswoman (Alison Larkins) might finally ask a few pertinent questions of Liz Crosby, Ross Mathews, Claire Jager and Julia Overton. My letter to her of 27th March speaks for itself:
Ms Alison Larkins
Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman
GPO Box 442, Canberra 27th March 2012
Dear Ms Larkins
Following on from my letter of 15th March and various emails copied to your office.
I do appreciate that I am very possibly engaged in an exercise in futility; that Fiona Cameron will never be asked to produce the correspondence she refers to; that no-one, up to and including the office of the Ombudsman, thinks that there is any problem in the fact that Fiona Cameron adjudicates complaints made about Fiona Cameron. If so, so be it. As mentioned before, the ramifications are much more significant than the matter in question – in which only the fate of one filmmaker is affected. My last email to the Documentary section of Screen Australia and Fiona Cameron speaks for itself.
Dear Documentary Section and Fiona Cameron.
My latest letter to the Prime Minister speaks for itself. I know that I will be repeating myself here but experience tells me that persistence often pays off and maybe, even at this late date, that the possibility exists that the Documentary section of Screen Australia and Fiona Cameron might apologize for the cockup that has occurred in relation to CHANTI’S WORLD. This is all that I have asked for this past 16 months.
If you did, Claire and Ross, actually view the promo that was the centrepiece of my application close to two years ago, why have you never said so? Have I been lying this past 16 months? If you, Liz Crosby, did not overhear Ross Mathews admitting that he had not viewed the promo, why have you never said so? If any of you have read the correspondence from me that Fiona refers to and which I claim not to exist why have not one of you admitted to it? Or, alternatively, admitted that you haven't seen such correspondence?
Why has no one at Screen Australia answered any one of these questions (along with many others) when it would have been easy, at any point this past 16 months, for you all to say, “James, of course we saw your promo; no James, you are mistaken in your recollection that both Claire and Ross admitted not having seen your promo and here, James, is the correspondence in which you make it clear that you had come away from the meeting with Ross and Julia Overton with the expectation that CHANTI’S WORLD had been funded.”
I don’t understand why, given the conspiracy of silence that you have all been engaged in, that you didn’t simply go one step further and totally discredit me by saying that all I have written in my many letters is lies. It would have been my word against the entire Documentary section of Screen Australia and Fiona Cameron. End of story. I suspect that the Documentary section of SA did not go down this path because you all know full well that it would have involved a good deal of lying. Whether it was integrity or the fear of being caught out lying that prevented you from taking the conspiracy to the next level I have no way of knowing. Certainly your collective silence has resulted in this matter dragging on for 16 months when it could easily have been resolved, and very quickly, at the time it began if the will had been there to do so.
Given that the Documentary section of Screen Australia has committed itself to such a long period of silence and, in the process, made itself an accessory to Fiona Cameron’s lies, it is hard to imagine that any of you are now likely to answer any questions from me or to apologize for what has happened. And this is the real problem here. One filmmaker being screwed by vindictive bureaucrats (Julia Overton played a significant role in all this) is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things. The entire Documentary section of Screen Australia being involved in a conspiracy such as has occurred here is, in the grand scheme of things, very significant – just as the significance of the Watergate break-in lay not in the break in itself but if what the subsequent cover up revealed about the corruption inherent in Richard Nixon’s White House.
It certainly seems that Screen Australia is going to stick to its guns; refuse to answer any questions; refuse to deal appropriately with my original (and easily resolved) complaints. All I ever wanted was an apology and for the record to be corrected to reflect truth and not Fiona Cameron spin.
Ms Larkins did not respond to or acknowledge receipt of this letter, sent over six months ago.