May 2006



AGM and CONFERENCE at HOBART April 31 to May 2, 2006

The 2006 ACOFS AGM and Conference was held this year in Hobart and turned out to be a very convivial weekend, with a good attendance, a sense of commitment from all and a good deal of food and wine consumed. Twenty two delegates and observers were present at most sessions plus David Boden and Elizabeth Jamieson from the National Film and Sound Archive who attended all sessions on Saturday. Friday and Saturday dinners were excellent and saw the involvement of several wives who otherwise spent the weekend increasing the tourist business in the markets and shopping malls. The only disappointments were the non appearance of any delegate from Launceston and also the late withdrawal of the ACMI representative.

A statement has just been received from ACMI indicating the process whereby organisations not based in Victoria can borrow 16mm and 35mm film from the ACMI lending collection. This statement is found on page 3 of this bulletin.

The long running items of business were dealt with quickly and it was good to hear that the web site is being used, also the Handbook is be revised and possibly printed or offered only electronically. One huge plus was the Projectionist Manual which Michael Lines-Kelly had painstakingly compiled and produced as a CD Version. The amount of work involved was immense and goes to show what one dedicated person can achieve in 12 months. There will be another society survey in 2006, aimed at finding out what each society is doing and how it has progressed since the last survey in 2004.

There was agreement to attempt to co-operate with the Sydney and Melbourne Travelling Film Festivals in order to get more film societies into ACOFS. Also the few S.A. societies are to be contacted with a view to restarting the Federation or joining another State. The History of the Film Society movement in Australia is moving along slowly and reports from each State Federation showed that membership is just about holding steady in all States. The Treasurer reported that the Balance sheet is still healthy despite another slight deficit and once again we were unable to send a delegate to the IFFS meeting in Italy in 2005.

One of the major topics for the weekend was the DVD Issue and much time was spent discussing this in all its aspects. The policy relating to screening of DVDs has been clarified. Screening of a DVD at a film society meeting can only take place where the rights holder has been located and an undertaking has been made to pay the agreed fee. Also, DVDs can be only used for a non-theatrical screenings

i.e. at a regular screening to members of the film society (any rules for guests may also apply). Any Film Society that deviates from this policy cannot be expected to be defended by ACOFS or their Federation.

There will also be more work done and results published as to which societies have titles they are willing to loan and also a guideline as to what equipment is at present being used by societies and its effectiveness in the auditoriums where it is installed.

Finally all of Saturday afternoon and a good deal of time on Sunday was spent discussing the Presidents Report alongside the address from David Boden Head of Outreach and Access Branch of the National Film and Sound Archive. Both of these documents highlighted the changes taking place in the delivery of the moving image. They also emphasized the challenges facing both organizations over the next few years to keep abreast with these changes.

My report is attached at the end of this bulletin. David outlined the structure of the Acquisition and Access Branches of the NFSA, and also the policies governing acquisition policies. It was heartening to hear that feature and short films are to be acquired both on film and digital format. It was even more encouraging to know that the number of restricted titles is to be reduced and that Australian features and shorts are to be targeted. Rather more controversial was the policy of probable withdrawal of rare and unique items for their protection, and the possible rationalization of Film Societies. Somewhat disturbing were the borrowing figures for the National Collection, these were well down on recent years and it is to be hoped that with the new acquisition policy they will recover.

Elizabeth outlined the structure of the Branch and quoted titles and genres which are being pursued for future acquisition. She also outlined how societies should contact the branch if they were not receiving the quarterly Bulletin and also if they had special requests.

David finally spoke about new technology and emphasized that NFSA and ACOFS should together explore the developments of digital cinema and how it can be delivered to remote and regional centres which rely on the Film Society movement for its screen culture. He spent some time explaining the gray area surrounding new distribution methods and the way in which our two organizations can cooperate.

Finally we broke up into groups representing Inner and Outer suburban societies, those located in regional and bush communities and others. Items discussed included Venue, Promotion, Screening environments, Budgets, New Members and a host of other related topics. This workshop will also be fully reported in the next Bulletin.

The weekend as a whole was a long look at the future and it is quite clear that the future is what we want it to be.

The executive for the next twelve months is John Turner (Vic) President, Diana Ross (WA) Vice-President, Richard Purdy (Vic) Secretary, David Bruce-Steer (NSW) Treasurer and Michael Lines-Kelly (NSW) Technical Officer.

Richard Keyes who has been Vice-President for many years did not stand for re-election and we thanked him very sincerely for his efforts over such a long period.

John Turner


How to Borrow 16mm & 35mm Films from ACMI if you are not Based in Victoria.

Reflecting its status as a Victorian Arts Agency, one of the requirements for either an individual or organisational membership of the ACMI Lending Collection is a Victorian residential address. This doesn’t mean that interstate borrowers are unable to access the Collection; it just means that it’s done a bit differently. Interstate educational institutions, cultural organisations, government departments and film societies can initiate borrowing 16mm and 35mm feature films from the ACMI collections by first going to ACMI website and completing a registration form found at You will also find here a link to the catalogue of available 16mm and 35mm titles.

You can also contact ACMI Lending Services directly by email with a request for information. You can speak to an ACMI Lending Services Officer by calling (03) 9929 7040.

Unfortunately we are unable to extend registered borrowing privileges to interstate individuals. Registered interstate borrowers can access 16mm and 35mm formats only. VHS and DVD formats held in ACMI Lending Collection are not available under these arrangements.

Members of NFVLS will note that terms and conditions of borrowing are similar for ACMI 16mm and 35mm titles as those they are accustomed to with NFVLS.

Once you are registered as a potential borrower the following conditions apply:

• A minimum of ten working days notice is required to process and despatch a booking request once you are a registered borrower
Bookings made with less than ten working days notice will attract an expedite fee
There is a standard handling fee of $27.50 per 16mm title requested
There is a standard handling fee of $33.00 per 35mm title requested
ACMI despatches titles via Australia Post courier and pays freight costs to deliver to client
Client arranges return despatch of titles to ACMI and pays return freight costs

Please be aware that titles held in the ACMI 16mm and 35mm collection have been acquired in a variety of ways and hence screening rights licensed to ACMI as the lender may differ with each title. Potential borrowers should note that depending on the title they book, they may be required to seek screening permission from the Australian distributor of that particular title. Borrowers are advised to explain the type of screening they have planned at the time of booking, in order that the rights available with the title can be clarified before the booking is confirmed. If screening permission is necessary for a particular title, a booking will not be confirmed until ACMI receives written permission from the relevant distributor. It is the borrower’s responsibility to seek permission to screen the title.

ACMI is currently reviewing aspects of its Lending Service so there will be some changes ahead. All members of ACMI Lending Collection and registered borrowers will be notified before any changes take effect.


Cinema is about to join the rest of the communications world by coming to terms with the 21st Century. Whilst other mediums of recording, presenting and transferring data and images has moved rapidly through the spectrums of high speed, high resolution and high definition the film industry is still labouring under the weight of traditional film stock for almost every presentation. As we know this has everything to do with preservation of copyright and little to do with efficiency of distribution.

All this, we are informed, is about to end and film will disappear from the cinema at an even greater rate than it is being moved from supermarket displays to the specialist photographic retailer. Film Societies, traditionally, were wedded to 16mm films, a few embraced 35 and 70mm, to be branded by many of their peers as being quasi-commercial. Originally dedicated to education and instruction, most societies quickly learned how to entertain whilst at the same time improving the level of understanding of the cinema experience, extending the boundaries of acceptance and heightening the awareness of many different cultures around the world.

Whilst the above objectives were central to the origins and development of Film Societies, the movement had great influence on the censorship laws, introduced two International Film festivals in Melbourne and Sydney, founded the AFI, aided in the set up, development and continuation of the only major free Film Study Collection in the world and played a major role in setting up an independent Film and Sound Archive.

These are only a few of the achievements over the past 50 or so years, not bad for a bunch of volunteers with little or no government funding.

So how are we going to fit into the new scenario which awaits us, it is no use resting on our laurels and dwelling on past achievements. We are slowly embracing DVD but is this enough? Is DVD the ultimate answer and if not can we change direction again when the time comes? Who comprise the audience we are trying to attract now and in the future? Our traditional patrons are ageing, younger members, and societies organized by young people are difficult to find and exist in well defined areas. As a general rule anyone under 35 years of age has little concept of the term ‘Film Society’ and anyway is not concerned about joining any organization which works in 12 month slots, much less turning up to Committee meetings and volunteering to stand on the door and check membership cards.

We do need to embrace the new culture both technically and philosophically or we will quickly become irrelevant. In order to achieve this we need to set in motion plans to attract new and younger people throughout our organization, not only to screenings but to ACOFS. I feel that we need to set this in motion this weekend and the first hurdle is to overcome the difficulty of getting feedback from Federations and individual societies and circulating new ideas and initiatives. I hope we will have plans in place before we break up on Sunday and disappear for another year.

John Turner President 14/3/2006