Wednesday, January 16, 2013

for Glen Boreham, Chair, Screen Australia Board

Glen Boreham
Chair, Screen Australia Board
Level 4, 150 William St
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                     17th Jan 2013

Dear Glen

It appears that there is not one member of the Board, yourself included, who believes I am entitled to be provided with evidence of the crimes for which I have been tried and found guilty - effectively brought my career as an Australian filmmaker to an end. This was, of course, Ruth Harley’s intention in writing her draft letter of 9th May last year – a letter whose contents your Board endorsed within 24 hours, leading to my being banned.

As you know full well, I have never intimidated or placed at risk any member of Screen Australia’s staff. Ruth’s reason for implementing the ban lies in her desire to punish me for having been a public critic of her management style, characterized by a lack of commitment to the precepts of transparency and accountability and by her tendency, when it suits her purposes, to play fast and loose with the truth.  In holding out the possibility that the ban on me might be lifted (see 10th May letter), but without giving me any clues as to what I must do to have it lifted, Ruth hoped that the termination of my career would have the desired effect of silencing a critic. In this her hopes have been dashed.

Let me ask you, Glen, given that you and the Board have ratified Ruth’s letter of 10th May, what must I do to have the ban on me lifted? You will not answer this question, of course, just as you have refused to answer any question put to you this past two years whose truth answer would rely on demonstrable fact and could not be dismissed with the kind of  ‘spin’ that Ruth Harley specializes in.

The ban on me is, as you know, nonsense. Reading a screenplay of mine or viewing a promo  for one of my documentary projects places no member of Screen Australia’s staff at risk. How could it? No, Ruth’s ban is an act vengeance; of spite. Yes, it makes my own life more difficult but it also, in the case of THURSDAY’S CHILD, robs my co-writing and co-producing collaborators of the opportunity to be further involved in the project.

It may well be, as a result of Ruth Harley’s thirst for revenge, her implementation of tactics developed and refined by the Mafia, that a quintessentially Australian story, based on a famous Australian eccentric, will be transposed to the US. If the script for THURSDAY’S CHILD is second-rate, if a film made from it is unlikely to find an Australian audience, its loss to Australia is of no consequence. What is of consequence is that Screen Australia, in banning me, has effectively banned THURSDAY’S CHILD; that Australia’s peak funding body has, at its Chief Executive, a woman more concerned with punishing a filmmaker she dislikes than with the quality of the film projects he is involved with.

It must be as blindingly obvious to the Screen Australia Board as it is to the rest of the industry that Ruth Harley is the wrong person to be the Chief Executive of Screen Australia. The mystery to me, and for many of my fellow filmmakers, is why the Board (and, indeed, the Minister, Simon Crean) not only tolerates but seems to endorse the kind of behavior that allows any filmmaker to be banned on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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