International Federation of Film Societies met in Tunisia for its 2013 AGM

Tunis, capital city of Tunisia

Below, a copy of the report and statement of support presented by the Australian Council of Film Societies (ACOFS) at the International Federation of Film Societies 2013 Annual General Meeting in Tunisia.

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Distinguished Guests,

The Australian Film Society Movement, represented by the Australian Council of Film Societies (“ACOFS”), founded in 1949, is very pleased and honoured to offer a brief report and statement of support at this historical gathering of the International Federation of Film Societies.

Thank you to Dr Reynolds for kindly offering to convey our notes to all our esteemed friends.

The Australian Film Society Movement over the last two years has moved decisively towards a more decentralised and democratic structure. Australia has 6 states and 2 territories.

One of the key hopes of ACOFS as the peak representative body of the Movement in Australia is to see that there is an independent, self-sufficient Federation in every state and territory of our nation.

Whereas in the past, the New South Wales Federation provided combined representation for both New South Wales and Queensland, there is now a new and growing Federation of Queensland Film Societies.

Whereas in the past, the Victorian Federation provided combined representation for both Victorian and South Australia, in the next couple of months the South Australians are expected to form their own independent Federation.

The energy and initiative for all this has come from individual film societies. It is not a top-down initiative of ACOFS. It was not forced by ACOFS. It is self-funded and energised by the individual film societies of each state of Australia.

However, it also true that ACOFS has consistently encouraged and welcomed this decentralisation and made it clear that it would view such a development as very much in the interests of a healthy, vibrant, creative, diverse Movement.

Curiously, the key arguments for moving towards decentralisation and local independence draws on some of the traditional, founding principles of the Film Society Movement, going back to the early 20th Century.

Those across the Australian Film Society Movement who argued for a more modernised, efficient, streamlined, managerial, top-down form of administration lost the debate.

Those who argued that autocratic structures are incompatible with creative institutions won overwhelmingly.

The Film Society Movement is one of humankind’s most sophisticated vehicles of imagination and free thinking.

It is where art, technology, morality, customs, philosophy, self-perceptions, and the comedies and tragedies of life meet and engage.

But it is more a marketplace than a battleground.

A place of creation and exchange. Not a realm of plunder and conquest.

The Movement has always been characterised by the spirit of dissent and has always been at the leading edge of every argument for individual liberty and for the pursuit of personal virtue and human happiness.

Yes, of course there may be — there will be — crassness and mediocrity and foolishness along the way. But for robust, confident cultures this is of no significance. Such qualities are always with us, are they not?

What matters is that the Film Society Movement brings into the equation of human existence the opportunity for every man, woman and child to discover the extraordinary and exceptional. In the world around them. Within themselves. Within their fellow man.

Show me a nation with a healthy, vigorous, independent Film Society Movement and I’ll show you a nation where spiritual, intellectual, and material growth flourishes!

And so, may the International Federation of Film Societies and the Movement it serves continue to project the Vision of Liberty.

May it continue to light the imaginations of restless minds and reach the true friends of free thinking across this beautiful planet.

Thank you all. Australia is honoured to travel this journey with you.

God Bless the Free Thinkers of Tunisia.

Prodos Stefanous Nicholaou Marinakis
Honorary Secretary, Australian Council of Film Societies

Background on Tunisia from the Heritage Foundation (USA):

Tunisia, birthplace of the “Arab Spring” uprisings against autocratic Middle Eastern governments, ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

After a series of interim leaders, Moncef Marzouki was elected president on December 12, 2011. Elections in October 2011 gave the formerly banned Islamist Ennhada Party the largest number of seats in parliament and a significant say in drafting a new constitution.

The economy depends heavily on agriculture, mining, energy, tourism, and manufacturing. An association agreement with the European Union has helped to create jobs and modernize the economy, but the EU economic slowdown has depressed demand for Tunisian-made goods.

The violent efforts of Salafi Islamists to destabilize the government, ban alcohol, and impose other Islamist goals have undermined foreign investment and tourism.