Banned film sees light of day after 30 years

A film that was banned by Lismore City Council 30 years ago and subsequently presumed lost forever has been found and will now be publicly screened in Lismore next year.

At Tuesdays Lismore City Council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to approve a public screening of A Place in the Sun, which was made in 1978 to promote Lismore as a tourist destination.

Cr John Hampton was enthusiastic about the showing.

I cant wait to see it. Is it R-rated? he enquired.

Cr Jenny Dowell said it was a quaint film which the ABC had been interested in, thinking it might be controversial.

But it was too tame for them, she said.

Paul Joseph, a member of the collaborative filmmaking team, said the film was a time capsule showing scenes from the fledgling Channon Market, the Lismore races and Lismores then signature event September Fest. It also contains a segment showing the beauty of local forests and their tourist appeal at a time when Paul says they were merely considered a resource to be logged.

With this film we were trying to coax the Council and the local community to believe in the value of the forest as a tourist asset, he said. I believe that was one of things they reacted to.

He thought the film, which Lismore City Council had funded to the tune of $14,000, had been lost forever after the only copy disappeared soon after Council held a closed viewing and then decided they wanted it banned.

However, when he mentioned it to Cr Jenny Dowell late last year, she made enquiries at the Richmond River Historical Society and it was found in their archives.

Cr Dowell said she spent five hours going through 14 volumes of Council minutes, but failed to find any mention of the Council resolution to ban the film.

The town clerk says there was a resolution to ban the film, but also a resolution not to record it, she said.

However she said the minutes made fascinating reading, talking about the unclean people living within our midst.

It was a time of great upheaval, she said. It was the time of the new settlers and the move to multiple occupancies. Then there was The Channon Markets with its public nudity and unsafe food handling practices. There was a growing discomfort with the hippie image of the film, which led Council to ban it.

Paul said despite the fact they also tried to show the traditional side of Lismore, the film was seen as promoting hippie values in its attitudes towards protection of the environment (the film was made a year before the now-famous Terania Creek protests which saw a bitter stand-off between loggers and conservationists) and the new settlers, as depicted in scenes at The Channon Market.

Lismore proudly proclaims itself to be the birthplace of eco-tourism, he said. This was the seed of that. Lismore was the first place to develop communities on collectively-owned land and the first site of successful action to protect rainforests in the history of the planet.

When putting forward the motion for Council to approve the showing of the film Cr Dowell acknowledged that subsequent councils were not bound by resolutions made by previous councils.

However this motion removes any doubt that somewhere Council has declared that this film should not be shown, she said.

Keep an eye on The Echo next year for details of the public screening.

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