By Amanda Diaz
Award-winning Australian director Gillian Armstrong has criticized Australian broadcasters for not investing enough money in local drama.
The director, whose documentary Love, Lust & Lies, was shown on the ABC in September, also criticized the national broadcaster for failing the local industry.
“It’s been shoddy and appalling, the amount of Australian content on the ABC,” she said at a government announcement that Sydney had qualified as a United Nations' "City of Film".
She said there was a need for more local drama on Australian TV, citing law series Rake as an example of the kind of quality the industry should be striving for.
“The best writers and actors in the US are doing breakthrough television drama,” she said. “I would like more money to go into Australian talent.”
TV drama expenditure fell sharply last financial year to $286 million, due to a fall in children's production, according to Screen Australia data. However, total expenditure was in line with the three-year average of $295 million.
Armstrong attended the "City of Film" announcement alongside several other well-known screen industry icons including producer Jan Chapman and actor Barry Otto.
Arts Minister Virginia Judge said that the new United Nations' title would place Sydney firmly on the international film scene, calling Sydney "the new Hollywood".
“Sydney is home to leading writers, producers, actors and designers,” the Minister said. “As well as providing content for us to enjoy, the industry brings jobs.”
The local industry is facing a dearth of international productions shooting in Australia due to the high level of the Australian dollar – a situation which is not expected to change soon.
Sydney is only the second city in the world to be crowned with the title after Bradford in the U.K.
Armstrong also suggested that Sydney should have its own local film centre, which would rival Melbourne's Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) – a suggestion backed by the Minister.
“We want an exciting film centre and now’s the time to get on that," Armstrong said.
Armstrong is on a committee that hopes to establish a centre in Barangaroo, Darling Habour.