Crocodile Dun-don’t: confessions of an Australian film critic abroad

‘Australian art cinema' is a concept many overseas programmers have a hard time understanding – or even believing.
A Wild West myth of Australia persists even now. Image: Paramount.

Without a doubt, the oddest-looking entry in my professional writing CV involves an American venture called Eye International in 1986. It was a magazine devoted to the arts and popular culture, but it didn’t get terribly far: the only issue that ever emerged was a pilot, prominently numbered ‘Volume Zero, Number Zero’ on its cover. I was once asked, in a job interview, whether this phantom publication constituted a hoax on my part.

A hoax, no: but managing to be a part of issue 0.0 was quite an ordeal. The US editor contacted me and, with effusive praise, invited me to contribute a piece on ‘trends in contemporary mainstream cinema’. I swiftly accommodated this rather broad and vague request, only to have my text even more swiftly returned to me with an exasperated note: ‘We didn’t mean you could talk about American and European films – only Australian ones!’

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