SBS butchered my film and I can’t do anything about it

A friend contacted me this week to say she saw my film sleeping Beauty on SBS World Movies last weekend. “Oh no,” I said. “They always butcher it.”

For some ungodly reason – well, tax reasons – the majority of publicly funded broadcasters see fit to mix commercials into feature films. It’s a barbaric practice that would never fly in other countries. A 2015 Get Up petition collected around 60,000 signatures in protest, to no avail.

Emily Browning in Julia Leigh's 2011 film The Sleeping Beauty.

Emily Browning in Julia Leigh’s 2011 film The Sleeping Beauty.

We all worked so hard to make it sleeping Beauty. Thousands and thousands of hours have gone into creating this indescribable flow of image, sound and story. Pretending isn’t easy.

The film had significant public funding. The task was to make a valuable cultural contribution. We delivered. Our artistic efforts have been recognized worldwide. The film was nominated for the Palme d’Or and the Golden Camera at Cannes in 2011. (At that time there had not been an Australian film in competition for 10 years). It was distributed in about 60 countries.

SBS seems intent on ruining all this good work. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the carnage again, but here’s what happened the last time I saw the film on their platform.

At around 20 minutes running time, I was thrown out of the film and into the world of Sammy, a project coordinator who enjoys playing live-action role-playing games Brave heart at the local oval: She spruikte at the private health insurance company Medibank. Then along came Keith, whose car had broken down in the country and wished he had AAMI roadside assistance. Next came the climate propaganda of the oil company Shell. Then some kids were playing with a soccer ball and smiling at Cold Power Laundry Detergent. Most recently was an internal promotion for National Indigenous TV.

Director/writer Julia Leigh with Emily Browning at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

Director/writer Julia Leigh with Emily Browning at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.Credit:

The second set of ads, about 20 minutes later, took me to a beach where sunscreen was liberally applied. Coles presented a gift certificate. The University of New South Wales introduced the Star staff in their engineering department. Then a man sat in a backyard meditating to heavy metal music, Medibank again. Finally, another guy in hi-vis gear loaded something onto a truck to advertise an employment agency. Back to Sleeping Beauty.

Another 20 odd minutes went by and I found myself back in the backyard with the headbanger. Then, thanks to Nicorette, came a man climbing in a gym; a bright orange animation for T2 tees; and a Christmas family reunion for Bing Lee. SBS butchered my film and I can’t do anything about it

Jaclyn Diaz

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