MARCH 2004


National Library Film and Video Lending Collection

ACOFS AGM and Conference was held in Melbourne over the weekend 19th to 21st March. In an interesting two days the highlight was the Saturday Conference attended by over fifty delegates and observers. All states except S.A. were represented. The speakers who addressed the Conference were: John Smithies (Chief Executive Officer ACMI), David Boden (Deputy Director ScreenSound), who also spoke on behalf of the AFC, Tom Ruthven (National Library of Australia) and Ina Bertrand (Film Historian, Lecturer on Film History and author).

The overriding message was that everything would be O.K. and that we would not lose access to the Collection. Tom Ruthven stated that the Library would cease to be responsible for the Collection as of the 30th June. He could not see that the Federal Government would hand over the films to other than another Commonwealth body which would be ScreenSound, or in effect the AFC. Neither he nor anyone else would be drawn on the possibility of the two bodies becoming separate again in the future. I feel that this is a distinct possibility and we need to ensure that the films remain with ScreenSound in such an eventuality.

John Smithies stated that ACMI were very keen to continue managing the Collection, and if it changed hands there was no reason why ACMI could not continue to play its current role for the new owner. Several people from the audience stated that the service from ACMI had been excellent and wished arrangements to remain as they are now.

David Boden emphasized that neither the AFC nor ScreenSound intended to change the way in which the Collection was used, and that its future is as a lending collection. ScreenSound is at present studying the infrastructure required to set up a suitable lending service. Acquisition, Rights renewals, Cataloguing, are all being considered alongside the usual Bookings and Technical support required. He admitted that there is little time left to put this structure in place by the end of June. David also said that there had been no decision as yet to the ultimate location of the Collection.

The summary of all this is that there are two major decisions. One is a course of action for the rest of 2004, and then a permanent solution for 2005 onwards.

The point at issue is, of course, who is to pay, and how much is to be allocated for this unique service. It is not impossible, but unlikely, that the AFC/ScreenSound  combination may decide that the most efficient solution is to pay ACMI to continue the service as is at present done by the National Library.

All speakers agreed with questions from the floor that the situation is urgent, and that not only the programmes for this year are at stake, but the whole future of Film Societies.

In discussions after the Conference it was decided to write to each of the bodies involved in the decision and request a solution to be announced by the end of April. This has been done and if no decision is forthcoming then individual societies will be requested to make representations through their Federal Members to bring the situation to the notice of the Arts Minister and his counterpart in Opposition.

Ability to screen DVDís at your Society

To all film societies using or considering using DVDs at their regular screenings. ACOFS is in the process of negotiating agreements with all known DVD screening rights holders and their agents to allow film societies to screen their DVDs to their members - ie "non-theatrical" screenings at appropriate rates. Please let the secretary of ACOFS know of all DVD rights holders you are aware of and the DVD screening rights they "own", so that ACOFS can contact them and propose this agreement to them. In due course all information submitted, and collected by ACOFS, will be compiled and available to all film societies on request to enable the job of finding the "rights holder" much easier. 

Please send details to:

David Bruce-Steer
Tel/fax: 02 94116616


10 Shepherd Rd
Artarmon NSW 2064