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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 6 April 10, 1975

Subsidising British Films

Subsidising British Films

Sir Robert isn't the only man in the film industry afflicted with pro-British sympathies. Anglophilia is endemic in New Zealand, and even if Kerridge-Odeon hadn't shown a preference for English films they would have been forced to show them anyway. In 1928 a British quota was introduced, at the prompting of the United Kingdom stipulating that a growing percentage of the films shown had to be British made. The percentage from 1940 1940 on was to be 20%, which mightn't sound much but it was about all that the British film industry could manage. This quota didn't have to be enforced because the exhibitors voluntarily met it - which they will probably continue to do even if the quota is removed as a result of Britain entering the EEC. English films have also paid less customs duty than films from other countries (Commonwealth countries have shared these privileges since 1953, but haven't supplied a significant quantity of films.)

Cartoon of a toliet with intestine like system

The idea of these measures was to help salvage the film industry in Britain from the wreckage left by American competition. Similar, but more expensive, measures are in force in Britain. Their main effect is to encourage American companies like Rank, which still makes the occasional film, the bulk of English film-making is done by the Americans. This isn't completely to the advantage of Britain - they at least have a film industry of sorts, which is more than we have.

This discrimination against 'foreign' films means that the casual movie goer isn't even aware that films are made in places other than the United States and England. As a matter of fact countries like India and Japan make more films than Hollywood, and among the world's most respected directors are: Ray (India) Ozue and Kurosawa (Japan), Janese (Hungary), Godard, Bresson and Rohmer (I ranee) Bunuel (Mexico-Spain), and Bergman (Sweden). And brilliant feature films are made in Cuba and other Third World countries

New Zealand culture consists of an English base and an American overlay; New Zealanders are gradually becoming aware that there is more to the world than this. However the cinema chains are more English and American than they are New Zealand, and so can't be expected to share this developing awareness.

The chains are old-fashioned, as well as anti-'foreign', Films that are unusual, controversial, political or that require a little thought are inclined to be ignored. Kerridge-Odeon in particular is very conservative in its taste in films. People who work for them say that Sir Robert knows everything that is going on and makes a lot of the decisions. In which case the best that can be said for him is that he has the taste of a Mother Grundy.