Monday, February 3, 2014

To Caroline Fulton, Director, Screen Industry, Ministry for the Arts, 31st Jan

I have put a good deal of effort into finding a just resolution to my dispute with Screen Australia, to no avail.

On 11th Nov 2013 I suggested the following to new Chief Executive Graeme Mason:

If none of the suggestions I have made to resolve this matter appeal to you (one being:, there is one more I would like to make. It is that you and I and Fiona Cameron meet to discuss whatever evidence Screen Australia believes it has in support of the ban. If Fiona can point to anywhere in my correspondence where I suggested or even implied that I believed CHANTI’S WORLD had been greenlit and if either of you can point to even one phrase in my correspondence that places the intended recipient at risk or which is intimidating, I will accept my ban and say no more.

If, on the other hand, Fiona cannot identify where in my correspondence I expressed my belief that CHANTI’S WORLD had been greenlit and if neither of you can identify anything in my correspondence that is intimidating etc. the ban should be lifted. This could be done with a minimum of fuss and could be announced by SA along the lines of: “The dispute between James Ricketson and Screen Australia has been amicably resolved and the ban on him has been lifted.” We could agree that neither I nor  Screen Australia will comment further. That will be the end of the matter and I can get back to simply making films and stop fighting for the right to be able to make them unencumbered by the Screen Australia ban.

It would appear that a resolution of any kind is out of Graeme’s hands. It is up to the Screen Australia Board. Given that the Board has never provided me with any evidence of my crimes, it clearly can’t lift the ban without explanation looking more than a little foolish for having implemented it in the first place.

So, there will be no peaceful resolution! A pity:

to Carolyn Fulton

31st. Jan 2014

Dear Caroline

I am filming in Cambodia and so unable to post a letter to Senator Brandis. I have, however, sent it electronically. I am doing so again, via yourself, just to be sure that it does arrive on the Minister's desk. No doubt, once it has officially arrived, you will be asked to deal with it. There is actually not much to deal with any longer. Ruth Harley's ban has had its desired effect - making it impossible for me to make films in Australia. I am taking one of my films to the US and will re-write another of my screenplays in which there is interest as an American story.

Whilst I am abandoning Australia as a place where I can make films (impossible with the current Screen Australia board and ban in place) I am not abandoning my efforts to have my name cleared of the allegation that I intimidated and placed Screen Australia staff at risk with my correspondence. You know that this is nonsense. The Screen Australia Board knows that it is nonsense and yet neither yourself nor the Board has seen fit to either (a) present me with evidence of my crimes or (b) lift the ban and apologise  for imposing it in the first place.

As I made clear in my letter to Fiona Cameron in Nov last year (attached), in a fair world she would be sacked. In a fair world the Screen Australia Board would be sacked if it could not provide evidence in support of the allegations that led to my being banned. We do not, of course, live in a fair world. As far as Screen Australia is concerned, this peak funding body,upon which all filmmakers are reliant, has resorted to tactics to silence critics that are reminiscent of those used by the mafia and autocratic regimes such as the one I am filming in right now.

Yet again, given that no-one else will answer the question, can you please, Caroline, provide me with the evidence that has been presented to yourself in support of the proposition that I have intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia's staff in my correspondence? If you have no evidence, please acknowledge this. If you do, please provide not just myself but the journalists copied on this email with it. If you have such evidence they will (and should) expose me as a liar and a fraud for having gone to such lengths to deny in a very public that such evidence exists.

The real issue here has never been about the banning of one filmmaker but about the inappropriateness of having senior management at Screen Australia, along with the Screen Australia Board, singling out certain filmmakers for punishment and others to receive preferential treatment. That this is so is is so blindingly obvious to everyone in the industry that it must be obvious to you and to whatever Minister happens to be overseeing the Arts portfolio. Why Are there no checks and balances to see that this does not occur? Why is there no independent complaints process whereby disputes such as mine with Screen Australia can be resolved quickly and fairly and without being reliant on a decision made by the Chief Operating Officer - in this instance the very person being complained about.

A great deal of time and energy has been wasted by many people as a result of this absurd dispute and the even more absurd ban placed by the Board in attempt to resolve it. In May 2012 the appropriate way to resolve it was on the basis of facts, not spin. In Jan 2014 the appropriate way to resolve it is on the basis of facts, not spin.

I am copying this to Rachel Perkins, despite her no longer being a member of the Screen Australia Board. She, along with the other filmmakers on the Board, have revealed themselves (regardless of their other considerable talents) to be lacking in integrity and honesty by maintaining an undignified silence in response to my requests for evidence of my crimes. 

best wishes

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