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Changes to federal government film funding could cripple production of historical documentaries

By September 16, 2021films, news, Uncategorized

Image: Daryl Dellora introducing Harry Seidler-Modernist at its Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House, 2016.

A recent article by Film Art Media’s own Daryl Dellora explores the changing landscape for funding documentary feature films, and the impact of federal government changes.

Without government support, some iconic Australian films would never have been made. But less glamorous documentaries are often forgotten. They, perhaps even more than their feature film cousins, need investment to survive.

This week a host of changes were presented to parliament by the Morrison government dealing with how our film industry is funded.

Unfortunately documentaries have fared poorly in two respects. Firstly, most feature documentaries will no longer be eligible for the same level of generous tax rebates that the rest of the film industry still enjoys. The Documentary Australia Foundation has been vocal about this already, saying, “[t]here is a significant risk that the 58 per cent of Australian documentaries being made with budgets less than $1 million will not be made at all, if these proposed changes … are brought in. To put this in perspective, the award-winning documentaries Backtrack Boys, Gurrumul and In My Blood It Runs would not have been able to be made” under the proposed legislation.

The second issue has not been so widely acknowledged.

It is that any documentary films that substantially rely on archival materials will now be restricted in the amount of archival material used as the government has placed a cap on Australian-held copyright being eligible for a rebate. These are the crucial historical films that tell our Australian stories over the 120 years since federation. Incorporating archival film into a documentary isn’t simply an easy option that requires no creativity and creates nothing new.’

This article is available in full at:

Changes to federal government film funding could cripple production of historical documentaries