Do we really want to let tax law kill Australian documentaries? | Canberra weather

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We live in an interesting area. As with any significant event, what we record and capture today will become the basis for how future generations understand our present as their history. Documentary film has always played an important role in shaping our historical, social and cultural narratives – both as a mirror of contemporary society and as a historical document. But now the future of the documentary is in jeopardy. Last week, the Senate Standing Committee called an inquiry into legislation that will change Australia’s incentives for screen production. These incentives play a vital role in the documentary industry – providing crucial support for filmmakers to create and tell Australian stories. The proposed changes have the potential to decimate the documentary industry. By increasing the eligible budget threshold for support to $ 1 million and capping support for archives and overseas filming, we risk losing a third of Australia’s feature documentaries. Documentary feature films occupy a unique place in our cultural, media and historical landscape. They go beyond the headlines of the news – giving us the whole complex, nuanced and diverse story. Documentaries like Gayby Baby, Firestarter and Embrace allow us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, see what’s going on in our society, put a face to social issues and capture our cultural narrative. They take us to different worlds; climb Everest with Sherpa, visit the underwater worlds in blue and enter the mind of a musician through Mystify: Michael Hutchence. When our politicians debate this bill, they are deliberating on the future of our national voice. It is a turning point. These documentaries, which offer jobs and career paths within the industry, also offer excellent social results. They support the nonprofit sector, enabling organizations to raise awareness and fund. The documentary Backtrack Boys has raised millions of dollars to support underprivileged children in the bush. We rarely see these stories on our broadcasters in the age of wall-to-wall reality TV. READ MORE: Documentary industry asking for no additional support. The current guidelines aim to support Australian documentaries at a very low cost to the government. Feature documentaries have received an average of $ 9 million in support from Screen Australia through Producer Offset over the past five years – just 7 percent of the $ 620 million that has been provided to the entire film industry. . The cost of supporting feature documentaries is negligible, while the loss to the industry and to our national history would be significant. We ask that the current guidelines remain the same, so that Australian stories can continue to be made, told and seen. At the Documentary Australia Foundation, we see the passion and courage of documentary filmmakers. We see them making their films over many years, on small budgets, often without paying for themselves as they strive to make sure these stories are told. We also see the real impact of these documentaries – on the people involved and on the people who see them. As a documentary filmmaker myself, I saw this with my own eyes. When I did Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation in 2015, I wanted to challenge the narrative around poker machine addiction. I thought the film would be a powerful tool for activists and activists. What I didn’t realize was how much it would empower the people who had been through this story, who felt seen and understood. This film has been seen by over a million people. But his biggest impact on me came from an email I received from someone who told me it helped him stop playing. Instead of going to play the slot machines, he would watch the DVD. We find ourselves in a symbolic place – where the future of documentary storytelling in Australia could be decided by what is essentially tax law. It’s an age-old question: what is the value of art? In the case of the documentary, its value is clear. It is a historic record. It is our national history. It must be saved.

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