By Brendan Swift

The editor of Australian classic Wake in Fright, Anthony Buckley, says the local film industry needs to remains true to itself if it is to continue carving out a niche among dominant Hollywood fare.

The comments were made last night alongside actor Jack Thompson who launched Buckley’s memoirs, Behind a Velvet Light Trap, in front of an audience of about 130 people at NSW’s Mitchell library.

“If we are able to recognise who we are then we have to be able to express ourselves in the lingua franca of the age,” Thompson said. “And this is a book by a man who has been at the heart of it.”

Buckley began his career as a film editor, and spent many years searching for the original Wake in Fright print (which was also Thompson’s first film). It has taken more than $250,000 in a limited re-release and has found widespread acceptance as an Australian classic.

Anthony Buckley signs a copy of his book for Jack Thompson

Buckley, who has also produced several films including The Oyster Farmer and Bliss, said the best Australian films remain true to themselves and their Australian accents. He highlighted minimalist feature Samson and Delilah as a recent success.

“You have to applaud that film and the people who got behind that film because it was true to itself and will probably be around for a long time as a classic Australian film.”

Buckley’s documentary Forgotten Cinema (1967) helped revive the local industry and sparked widespread public interest. It was screened for politicians and broadcast by Channel Seven after the most popular show at the time – The Mavis Bramston Show – and surprised many by rating well.

“The expression by everyone ringing the station that night was ‘we didn’t know’,” Buckley said.

Thompson said about 40 per cent of the people currently making the big budget Melbourne-based Hollywood thriller Don‘t be Afraid of the Dark are Australians.

“When you read the early chapters of this book you find out how unlikely that may have been,” Thompson said.

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