Film depicts downside of corporate culture

A NEW Australian film due for national release in early Septem-ber explores the groundswell of anti-corporate sentiment in Australia.

The Bank, with a budget of just $5 million, follows the plight of a mathematician who’s developed a system to predict the stock market, and a regional family who take on their bank following the collapse of their business and a family tragedy.

However, the film is less an attack on Australia’s major banks than a comment on the ruthless pursuit of profit to the detriment of good corporate citizenry.

When director Robert Connolly started working on The Bank four years ago he harboured some concerns the anger (then) being directed at banks could dissipate by the time the film was launched.

But far from fading away, the focus on banks is still intense and the rise of anti-globalism and ethical investment suggests consumers now expect major corporations to be more account-able.

“I think there has been a shift that has been seen and corp-orations have become more answerable to shareholders,” Mr Connolly says.

“Four and a half years ago when I started this project people were always warning me the subject could change … back then there were moves for the banks to embrace customers.”

If anything the focus on the banks has intensified over the last four years with mounting concern about the spiralling fees recently prompting an inquiry by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into credit card interchange fees.

The banks have become the target of stinging criticism from consumers, who feel increasingly alienated from major corpora-

tions including banks, insurance companies, and from govern-ments.

“I would like the film to have an anti-corporate punch but I didn’t want to lecture to people,” Mr Connolly said.

The Bank is a political thriller which also explores the intricacies of predicting the stock market and the machinations of a major corporation.

The film renders a fairly bleak picture of big business and the unconscionable behaviour of the larger-than-life chief executive officer, actor Anthony Lapaglia.

“I think with The Bank the film is about what you do as an individual at the hands of a corporation,” Mr Connolly said.

“I just hate banks,” says actor David Wenham’s character, a mathematician who has developed a system for predicting the stock market.

Mr Connolly is probably best known for his role as producer with John Maynard in The Boys, directed by Rowan Woods. The Bank is his first feature film as a writer/director.

The film was pre sold to Italian distribution company Fandango, which arranged to have a sales agent in the UK, Axiom Films.

The Bank was financed by the Australian Film Corporation and produced with the assistance of Film Victoria.

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