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The 2nd Video Mayfair

5 May 1978 7 May 1978

Video MayFair

Sydney Filmmakers Coop

5-7 May, 1978

The Second Video Mayfair was run at the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op over Friday 5th to Sunday 7th May, 1978.

The call for videotapes, film, written information, speakers, ideas and discussion went out by April 1978. The programme intended to cover four current issues

  • Abortion: following the change of law in New Zealand and its implication for Australia.
  • Rape: highlighting an increase in rape and rape-and-murder in 1977 in Australia.
  • Queensland: focussing on the loss of civil liberties following the anti-demonstration laws enacted in Queensland in 1977.
  • Uranium: focussing on the implications of the Federal government's 1977 decision to export uranium.

The following article is a review of the MayFair weekend that appeared in Access Video, vol.4, no.3, Winter 1978, p.4

The 2nd Video Film MayFair

Susan Lambert

This was the third "weekend" of independent video exhibition that the Sydney Filmmakers Co.op had organized - together with SOAP and Paddington Video Access. We decided to programme around current political issues and look at the way video and film were being used in these areas. Discussions were also planned on how video lends itself as a political tool, the differences between the use of video and film in this regard and an analysis of how they can be used more effectively.

Essentially, however, it was the public presentation of new material on the issues that was the main concern of the weekend. Discussion was seen to be very important, as was the breaking down of the producer/audience split. After each session speakers and the tape/film makers were present and the audience encouraged to participate with criticisms, questions and suggestions.

The weekend was divided up into four three-hour sessions and launched by a video party on Friday night. Saturday at 3 pm was Queensland. Jeune Pritchard's recent tapes1 on the demonstrations in Queensland against the loss of civil liberties and the right to demonstrate were received with great interest. Speakers from Queensland explained the present political situation up there and the process that had led up to it. A lot of basic information was exchanged. Other tapes in that session were Fascism and Technology by Max Steiner and Queensland Passion Play by Glen Lewis.

The uranium session on Saturday night was badly attended compared with the 60 odd people of the afternoon. Tapes and films from Australia, New Zealand and West Germany were screened. Bob Dooley's Civil Liberties, The Nuclear Police State and the Fall Flow of Information created a lot of interest. It is basically an information tape that highlights the implications for civil liberties of the Fraser Government's decision to export uranium. It is also an up-to-date coverage and explanation of the struggle to stop uranium mining and export in this country. A good example of how video as opposed to film - because of its low-cost production, availability and simplicity of the equipment, less arduous editing and no dependency on any form of laboratory processing - can be used to inform, examine and promote issues during the actual time of the struggle.

Sunday afternoon was abortion and rape, the highlight of which was a film called Come On by Elizabeth McRae and Joanna Horsburgh. The discussion after the screening involved about 80 people and continued for four hours. It is a 10 minute drama that looks at the constant harassment and verbal abuse of women by unknown men on the street - another form of rape. It was followed by a tape by Terence Johnson called Fantasies from Marlborough Country - his first tape - in which he tries to come to terms with the notion of rape and his own attitude towards women.

Sunday night the place was packed with approximately 100 people for the unemployment programme. Julie … Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough provoked a discussion not only on unemployment but also on the effectiveness of video as a medium of social change. Video enabled Susan Varga and Rod Freeman, the producers, to record Julie's life and her attempts to find a job constantly for two weeks. The result is that the audience has the experience of intimacy with someone else's situation - in this case unemployment.

The Myth of the Dole Bludger is about the media and the way it is responsible for the misrepresentation of political issues and people's own situations. In this case it was Four Corners and their representation of "unemployed youth". Myth of the Dole Bludger is an attack on that misrepresentation and Western Access Video Centre with Liverpool CYSS have used video to give the right of reply to the kids that the ABC producers carelessly manipulated.

Throughout the weekend "distribution" was presented as extremely important and problems of how to get tape material "out" examined. Since then many rentals of the tapes screened have taken place through the Co-op video library plus a number of sales.

1These tapes were the unedited reels that Pritchard had been gathering on several trips to Queensland to cover the demonstrations and get interviews with civil libertarians and unionists. They were eventually assembled into Queensland Dossier which was released about 18 months later.