Thursday, May 15, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER TO CLAUDIA KARVAN. Why have you banned me for 4 years?

Claudia Karvan
Board Member
Screen Australia Board
Level 7, 45 Jones St
Ultimo 2007   

15th May 2014                                                                                    

Dear Claudia

Evidence, please, that I have ever once intimidated or placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff – the ostensible reason for the ban you, Rachel Perkins, Rosemary Blight, Richard Keddie and your fellow board members placed on me two years ago.

If I am guilty as charged perhaps your ban is warranted. If I am not guilty your ban is an abuse of power and questions arise about the honesty and integrity of the Screen Australia board. My guilt or innocence can only be determined if Screen Australia releases evidence of my crimes – an easy task given that all the evidence is to be found in correspondence SA has on file. You, along with your fellow board members, have adamantly refused to provide any evidence in support of your ban for two years now. Why?

In extending the ban on me by two years the charges of ‘intimidation’ and ‘placing at risk’ have been replaced by ‘humiliating’ and ‘damaging’ the reputations of Screen Australia staff. What about the damage to my own reputation in being accused of intimidation and placing Screen Australia staff at risk – serious accusations that, in other contexts, could lead to AVOs being taken out against the person so charged?

Glen Boreham asserts that I complained, in correspondence, that I had not received funding for CHANTI’S WORLD. This is not true. It is a lie. Glen Boreham knows it to be a lie. If I call Glen a liar this is a statement of fact. If this is damaging to Glen’s reputation, the damage is well deserved. The Chair of the Screen Australia board should not lie when providing reasons for any decision reached by the board.

If Glen is telling the truth, of course, if I did complain that I had not received funding for CHANTI’S WORLD, it is quite inappropriate for me (and perhaps defamatory) for me to call him a liar.  Indeed, it is me who is the liar. It would be quite appropriate for me to be referred to as a liar in public, or online. This would be both  humiliating and damaging to myself but I would have only myself to blame.

It is three and a half years now since Fiona Cameron made this same assertion – namely that I had complained about not receiving funding for CHANTI’S WORLD. Fiona was playing fast and loose with the truth, being parsimonious with the truth. Or, to call a spade a spade, lying. This became apparent when, after 18 tortuous months of asking, she finally identified the letters in which, she insisted, I had complained about not receiving funding. Even the most perfunctory of glances at the letters reveals that Fiona was wrong (I am trying to be polite here!) but such facts were of no importance to the Screen Australia board. You decided, collectively, that if you said it often enough (“James complained about not receiving funding”) that the statement would eventually become accepted as the truth.

You, Claudia, know that both Glen and Fiona were lying about my having complained about not receiving funding.  So do your fellow board members. You have latched onto this lie, however, because it casts me in a bad light, as a sore loser – wingeing and complaining because I did not get the money I asked for. This tactic has worked because no-one within Screen Australia, no-one within the Ministry of the Arts and certainly not the office of the Ombudsman has been prepared to ask for the evidence.  

As the lie is repeated, endlessly, and as I ask for evidence, endlessly, the stakes get higher and higher. There is now no gracious and credible way for the board to extricate itself from not just from this lie but from those pertaining to intimidation and placing at risk. You must  keep repeating it and hope like hell that no-one within the media ever asks, quite forcefully, to be provided with evidence of my crimes. To date no-one has.

I wonder Claudia if you actually believe it to be appropriate to ban a filmmaker? Perhaps you do not. Perhaps you have, this past two years, consistently voted against the ban and been outvoted each and every time by your fellow board members? If this be the case, if you feel that an injustice has been perpetrated, you could register your protest at the obvious breach of natural justice involved here by resigning from the board in protest; as a matter of principle. If, on the other hand, you have, this past two years, consistently voted in favour of the ban, could you please explain to me, as a fellow filmmaker, why you have done so? Could you please have the professional and personal courtesy to provide me with the evidence you believe warrants my being banned for four years?

If any truly independent arbitrator/conciliator were to look at the correspondence now and declare “There is no evidence that Glen Boreham is correct in his assertion that James Ricketson complained that CHANTI’S WORLD was not funded or that he intimidated staff,” serious and quite justifiable questions would be raised about the honesty and integrity of the board.  This is why you have refused my many suggestions that the dispute be placed in the hands of someone with no vested interest in the outcome of an investigation and who relied on facts alone to arrive at a determination as to who was lying – myself or senior members of Screen Australia staff. I suggested this in Mary 2012:

It could be argued that my being banned is of no great consequence, other than to myself. The reason why it is important, in my mind at least, is that all of us working in film and television want and need a Screen Australia board that is transparent, that is accountable in its decision-making and does not lie about the reasons it gives for decisions it makes. My being banned in the absence of evidence makes it abundantly clear that we do not have such a board. And the recent ICAC investigations reveal that when there are large amounts of tax-payer dollars at stake, a lack of transparency and accountability leads to corruption. The blackballing of one filmmaker on the basis of lies (in this case me) is evidence of a minor act of corruption. The same could be argued about the $3,000 bottle of wine Barry O’Farrell accepted as a gift. The wine in itself was not the problem. His acceptance of the wine was symptomatic of deep seated problems about the way politics in NSW is carried out. I believe that there are lots of questions that should be asked about the way funding decisions are made by Screen Australia.

I imagine that you will ignore this letter, as you have the other letters I have written this past two years. So be it. In doing so please don’t be surprised if my posting of it online is damaging to your reputation. And please don’t try to blame this damage on me when all you have to do is provide evidence that I am guilty as charged and it will be me whose reputation is damaged; me who is humiliated in public. And quite rightly so.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Bashing your head against a brick wall, Ricketson. Screen Australia has decided to crucify you and no-one is going to come to your rescue. You'r ein this alone, buddy!

  2. If it is true that you never complained about not being funded James it is not surprising that Screen Australia would be scared shitless of any independent person looking at the facts. God forbid! And if you did complain, bad form, but hardly a reason to ban you. It will be interesting to see which filmmaking members of the board get funding in the next few months!

  3. It's very disappointing that you have been coldly dismissed James. Thoroughly callous. Had this happened to anyone on that, an accusation made then no evidence put forward...they would be angry ,humiliated and hurt. It is only natural to feel like that. As it stands, I refuse to trust them about the issue and they look dodgy. I won't be touching their product until they do the humane thing. I will be explaining to people why I think they are being unjust. Screen Australia you look mean and unfair. Mishy Godard , canberra