FREMANTLE’S image as a rainbow haven is under fire over the council’s attempts to woo China’s discriminatory film industry.
On Wednesday the council adopted a Film Friendly City Policy, with an officer’s report saying Fremantle was strongly placed to capitalise on a peaked interest in shooting in Australia from “international markets such as China”.
The McGowan government also paraded a Chinese film delegation through Fremantle in February while they were in town to scout locations and sign a deal with a local production company.
But the communist superpower’s suppression of LGBTI culture in film and on the internet is very strict; male-to-male kissing scenes from the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody were edited out before it could be screened, while Brokeback Mountain never made the screen at all.
That has a local film-maker concerned Fremantle is giving tacit support to these policies by cosying up.
“No, no, I would not as an LGBTI person support the council doing that,” Neil Buckley said of adopting the policy.
“I would be calling for … the council to explore its wider LGBTI policy to see if this is in conflict with that.”
Mr Buckley, who’s group the Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence are regular marchers in Perth’s Pride parades, said suppressing minority groups reinforces “the stigma, discrimination and negative stereotypes”.
He said Fremantle should send out a statement outlining its position on censorship within the Chinese film industry to show its support for its local LGBTI community.
The council’s policy offers support to film-makers by waiving permit fees, providing parking spaces and a temporary admin space for the crew and providing letters of support.
Officers had initially included a rider that films that “defame, exclude or offend other community groups or individuals” would not get any council support, but that was at first taken out by the council’s finance, policy, operations and legislation committee then reinstated at the council meeting to only include films that “vilify” others.
The council wouldn’t say how it would respond to requests from Chinese film-makers to make use of its hospitality, saying only that each request would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“The film industry represents a significant economic development opportunity for the city,” the council said in a response.
“The provision of support through the policy is at the complete discretion of the city and we are under no obligation to provide any support if we don’t feel it aligns with our values.”
by STEVE GRANT