Australian National Trust champions historic cinemas

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The National Trust in Australia wants more film money to be spent on saving heritage cinemas and less on making new films. They feel that the 20 surviving historic cinemas in New South Wales urgently need the money to keep them operating. Graham Quinn, advocacy manager for the National Trust, wants a rethink of the funding priorities. "The concern we've had is there's funding going to the production of Australian movies, but so often they don't even get a cinema release because the big chain cinemas aren't prepared to put in an Australian movie unless it's Animal Kingdom or something of that magnitude. It's a crazy thing to have taxpayers’ money going into those films but not have a few cinemas, particularly small or art-house sites, where they can be shown."

One cinema he cited is the historic Dungog cinema in a small rural town. "It is under threat of having to close because it can't afford the expense of transition to digital screening technologies."

Dungog has been very proactive in promoting the town and the cinema. The annual Dungog Film Festival, held in late May each year, is described as "The World's Biggest Festival of Australian Films.” This year they will rename four of the major streets during the festival in honor of Australian stars and filmmakers. There could be a (Nicole) Kidman Street, a (Hugh) Jackman Road or a (Phillip) Noyce Parade. Public voting is open for the renaming. The festival is extremely inclusive and includes features, television, documentaries, shorts and digital programs.

This year's Australian International Movie Convention will be held August 21-25 at Jupiter's Casino on the Gold Coast in Queensland. John Fithian, president and CEO of USA’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), will join delegates at this year's show as one of the international speakers. Bookings can be made at www.movieconvention.com.au.

Australian distributor Hopscotch Films was acquired by the international distributor and sales agent Entertainment One for $20 million. Entertainment One's president and CEO Darren Thoop said, “The Australian market presents an exciting opportunity for eOne, both to build on its existing operations worldwide and to acquire and exploit film titles for a larger group of territories.” The deal adds to eOne's operations in Canada, the U.K., Benelux and the U.S. The acquisition will also enable eOne to have access into the Australian market for the television titles produced by its TV business.

Sixty-three-year-old Australian actress Jacki Weaver has been entertaining Australian audiences for over 40 years on stage and TV and in many feature films. Her nomination for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Animal Kingdom has opened up international avenues for her great talent. She has just been hired for her first American feature, the Judd Apatow-produced Five Year Engagement. It’s great to see such success for a much-loved local actress.

E-mail your Australia/New Zealand news items to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.