Report from the Australian Council of Film societies
AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF FILM SOCIETIES
ACOFS is currently celebrating fifty four years of operation, and has seen many fluctuations in its membership and activities over that period. There are four state federations covering the six states and Northern Territory, and approximately one hundred and twenty societies as members of these federations. One of our problems is that there are probably thirty or more bodies calling themselves ‘film societies’ which are not members of state federations. It has long been our ambition to get these bodies into our organization and thus to create federations in the two remaining states.
The state federations operate independently, and delegates meet once a year at the ACOFS Conference and AGM to set policy for the coming year. The membership of Australia’s Film Societies varies between 1000 plus to less than 50, and in some outback areas probably 20 to 30 is the norm. ACOFS itself provides publicity, education and information, but its main role is to keep the film society movement to the forefront when government policy and self interest pushes the many non commercial, fragmented Australian film bodies to the fore.
Australia has a world renowned collection of 16mm feature and short films which are available to film societies for a handling charge only. There is also an Archive of mainly Australian films which again are available for screening. Protecting these two invaluable resources has been one of our main activities over the past few years.
The state federations on the other hand have a more hands on approach, and provide insurance policies, preview feature and short films, run film weekends and generally help the smaller societies to stay afloat year after year.
We receive no government funding, although from time to time over the past twenty five years we have received small amounts for specific projects. These have now completely dried up and the money goes to producing Australian films, few of these government funded films are ever be seen outside major cities even if they get so far. Our greatest regret is that this situation has remained after all these years of lobbying to have our network funded for screening these titles.
ACOFS has remained a supporter of IFFS over the past thirty years in which I have been Treasurer or President. We only get to meetings infrequently and have provided even fewer jury members. However as we have now all reached the age of retirement and freedom this situation could change.