Cinema studies in Australia has conventionally focused on the national production industry, the government policies that sustain and protect it, and the films that it has produced. The role of the Australian audience in shaping the market for Australian films is less well understood, and yet assumptions about audiences and the benefit offered to them in terms of cultural learning and national identity are embedded in policy rhetoric, and are necessarily invoked in the critique of content which accompanies a textually focused approach to the national cinema. This article proposes that Australian cinema audiences, whatever they are watching, play a more significant role in the Australian public sphere than Australian films. Drawing on oral history research conducted among rural cinema-goers in New South Wales, the article considers some of the methodological challenges and theoretical objections to an audience-centred research agenda for Australian cinema studies, and argues that the Australian case brings to international research an expanded appreciation of the diversity and locality of the global audience experience.
ANZSRC / FoR Code
1902 FILM, TELEVISION AND DIGITAL MEDIA