What makes a city? How many cities do we only know from cinema? And how many of those cities are American, European or Asian?

Which Australian suburbs do we know intimately from cinema, and which if any cities? And what about our landscapes – how often are they the star?

We see more and more Hollywood productions made here, and they tend to depict cities in a generic global – read: American – form. How does this erase what’s culturally distinct about our cities, their architecture and their people?

And in thinking about how our suburbs change over time, where do we draw the line between urban, suburban, inner-city, outer-suburban and regional? How does a suburb make a city?

On 14 August I facilitated Australian Cities on Film, a Melbourne Conversations event as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival with location manager Pia Emery, writer/actor/director Paul Ireland, and critic Lesley Chow.

Our discussion spanned cities and regions, landscape and architecture, the all-too-white look and feel of too many films produced in Australia, the closure of the ABC’s drama studios and the impact on production that genuinely respects and reflects Australia’s cultural diversity, and the newly released Diversity Arts Australia report Shifting the Balance. A fast-paced conversation to a sell-out audience that got the whole room talking. Recording available soon via the Wheeler Centre.


IMAGE: Pia Emery, Paul Ireland and Lesley Chow. Photograph by Esther Anatolitis.