Urban Cinefile
"It made me sick.."  -Sam Neill on his act with the axe in The Piano
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 11, 2018 

Search SEARCH FOR A FEATURE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

AFI AWARDS 1997: TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

The AFI Awards in Melbourne last week mark a watershed: in 1998, the Awards presentation moves to Sydney, after three years in Melbourne. But there is more at stake than geographical one upmanship. It’s a chance to change, to exercise Australian creativity. Urban Cinefile editor ANDREW L. URBAN opens a debate on the awards and the presentation.

There’s nothing wrong with the Oscars. It’s a night of American celebration, done in American style. American film stars are the world’s most recognised people, most glamorous people and some of them the most talented people in cinema. The talent pool is 250 million people deep. Many if not all awards presentations around the world have copied the ancient Oscar recipe, in a poverty of imagination that flatters by imitation but pales in comparison. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a legitimate and proud history of magnificent achievement in cinema, and globally recognised (and loved, admired, respected, shunned, hated) people whose mere presence as a person, not acting or otherwise engaged in their profession, delivers megawatts of live and televised oomph.

It hardly matters, in that scenario, what you do. It is enough that these people appear on stage, in a collusion of intimacy with the live audience and you, the viewer.

This can not be said of the AFI Awards, a copy of the Oscars in style if not substance. It is astounding that a society so enamoured of its individuality and a profession so dependent on fresh ideas has so far failed to come up with something more innovative than a mere copy of a foreign format. I say this with no ill will, but a degree of impatience.

"The focus is on ‘celebrity’ not so much the films."

The structure and style of the award presentation is inappropriate for Australia, partly because the focus is on ‘celebrity’ not so much the films. Yes, there are clips (but not for every category, such as original music, for example) and there is a brief piece of patter for every category, borrowed in style at least from the Oscars. The emphasis is on who presents the awards, not who has been nominated. The focus is on which presenter ‘name’ will attract more interest, not which of the film and television achievements propel our screen culture and entertainment. (Even so, many presenters are chosen by misguided criteria: as in design, form should follow function.)

This is the industry that shouted ‘Make it Australian’ 20 years ago; this is the industry that speaks our voice, has our unique accent, tells our own stories.

It should now find its own way of honouring its achievers.

Email this article

Kiss Or Kill

"Many if not all awards presentations around the world have copied the ancient Oscar recipe"




Doing Time For Patsy Cline

"It is astounding that a society so enamoured of its individuality and a profession so dependent on fresh ideas has so far failed to come up with something more innovative than a mere copy of a foreign format."




The Well

"The emphasis is on who presents the awards, not who has been nominated."




Black Rock

"This is the industry that shouted ‘Make it Australian’ 20 years ago"




See AFI Winners in NEWS







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018