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

Tired of Seeing Flimsy Films

Tired of Seeing Flimsy Films

Dear Bruce,

Having just read an article in Salient about the Fijian-entred international evening, I feel moved to comment. Although I was not present and thus did not see the film in question, I understand that this film was so appalling that it moved the Real Fijians in the audience to get to their feet to explode the touristy image of Fiji conveyed by the film. The organisers (an informal group of students and staff, by the way) were themselves displeased by the film and are making every effort to obtain better films for future international evenings.

However, in my mind, your article represents fair criticism and raises two points which I should like to discuss briefly.

Firstly, the contrast of the 'tourist myth' being propagated by the Fijian government, with the deflation of that myth by those who are clearly in a position to know the situation, is one of the aspects which I am pleased to see emerging through the International Evenings. These occasions are intended to bring together overseas and New Zealand students. How many Kiwi students would have been sucked in by the film's image of Fiji? Quite a few I guess. So to my way of thinking to show such a film and then destroy the image it presents can only be a positive step. This I feel is one of the benefits which can be gained from arranging International Evenings. Mixing overseas and New Zealand students cannot but be mutually beneficial since (to steal a line) 'communication is the beginning of understanding.'

Secondly, the writer of the article might do well to ask himself why this film was chosen for screening. The answer of course is that no other films on Fiji were available. In fact, tourist-orientated films seem to be the only ones New Zealanders can get hold of through the usual channels. Obviously, the 'usual channels' see no benefit in providing more realistic films: they couldn't afford to admit to the realities of life in their countries because, guess what? they'd scare those paunchy Yank tourists and the Good Keen Kiwis away from their shores. The availability of good films in this country is one of my grouches. Glance through any film catalogue (National Film Library. Unicine) and you'll find precious few films worth showing. On the other hand, how come the Wellington Film Society and the Sydney Film Co-op have catalogues which make you drool and quiver with jealousy because it's impossible or at least Extremely difficult to get hold of these films. These bodies are both independent of commercial distributors and the latter thus create giant hassles to attempt to prevent anyone from seeing their films. Read the Salient series of articles by Bruce Jesson and you'll see why.

Anyway, I'm tired of the dreadful stale of the film industry here. Good local film-makers are leaving because no-one here can use their services, and obstacles are being placed in our way to prevent our importing good overseas films independently of the commercial stranglehold. There are a few of us on campus who are interest in altering this situation at Victoria. If You too are tired of seeing the same old commercial trash, if You are disillusioned about the stale of films in this country, then call in to the Students' Association office and tell me about it. As your Cultural Affairs Officer, I need your support if I am to work on your behalf.

Barbara Leishman

(PS Where have all the Salient letters gone this year? Diana Ford, where are you?)