Studies in Australasian Cinema
Themed Issue 9.2:

Abstract submission to editors by: October 31, 2014
Article submission deadline for 9.2: April 1, 2015

Co-edited by Stephen Gaunson and Jeannette Delamoir

The 1927 Royal Commission into the Moving Picture Industry in Australia was
a massive undertaking, with 147 sittings in 18 locations around Australia.
Its 253 witnesses included filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, educators,
church representatives, journalists, and concerned citizens. Set up after
years of agitation by members of the film industry concerned about the
American film industry’s “stranglehold” on all levels of the industry in
Australia, the 1927 Royal Commission had four areas into which “to inquire
particularly”. All related directly to film business:

(a) The importation, production, distribution, and exhibition of moving
picture films;
(b) The incidence and effect of the Customs Tariff upon the importation of
such films and the sufficiency or
otherwise of existing duties of Customs;
(c) The sufficiency or otherwise of the existing income tax of the
Commonwealth in relation to persons, firms, and
companies engaged in the industry; and
(d) In connection with any or all of the foregoing matters, the income,
profits, expenditure and losses of such persons, firms, and companies
derived from or incurred in connexion with, the industry, and the amount of
capital invested in the industry. (Part 1, Introduction, to Report, p.1)

Today, films are financed from sources in multiple countries, and the idea
of national cinema is problematic and contested. Yet “Australian film”
still has strong emotional resonance, and is a significant trigger for
government investment. It is clear that, nearly 90 years since the Royal
Commission, the Australian film industry still struggles with issues of
financial and cultural viability. In spite of radical changes in
technology, marketing, audience access, and the “imagined communities” in
which spectators situate themselves, the solutions suggested in the 1927
Royal Commission—quotas, tariffs, subsidies—are frequently framed as
protections and supports for the current Australian film industry. Is it
possible the conceptualizations of problems, solutions, and “Australian
cinema” have not changed enough since 1927? That by looking back at the
Royal Commission we could better understand how those conceptualisations
arose, and how they continue to shape—or don’t shape—the Australian film
industry today? This snapshot of the film industry in 1927 also reveals a
young nation’s lifestyles, tastes, economic health, industrial
organization, political tensions and interconnections with local and global
culture. For this special issue, we invite you to use the Royal Commission
to explore themes including, but not limited to:

• the film industry in Australia in 1927/Australia in 1927/Australian
production/Australian exhibition
• national identity/British loyalty/cultural purity and contamination;
• Australian audiences;
• special interest groups (religious groups, women’s groups, educators)
• social organization of a city or town as revealed by the evidence;
• regional entertainment; differences between evidence given in city and
regional areas;
• attitudes to the film industry as an industry;
• border patrols (industrial, racial, moral);
• issues of sex and violence/censorship;
• the Commissioners and their political backgrounds;
• American distribution;
• Raymond Longford;
• Australasian Films Ltd.;
• Entertainment films vs. Educational films;
• Archiving the Royal Commission.

Email 250-word abstracts to [log in to unmask]

Dr Stephen Gaunson
Head of Cinema Studies
Lecturer - Cinema Studies and Creative Writing
School of Media & Communication
Design and Social Context
RMIT University
City Campus
GPO Box 2476
Melbourne, VIC
Australia 3001

To sign off Screen-L, e-mail [log in to unmask] and put SIGNOFF Screen-L
in the message.  Problems?  Contact [log in to unmask]