Australia/Oceania

 

Australia/Oceania is the world’s smallest continent and is composed of Australia, New Zealand, and the island groups of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Thousands of volcanic and coral atoll islands, many hundreds of languages (12%, well over 800, of the world’s languages hail from one single nation: Papua New Guinea), and an extensive colonial history as well as various impacts as the south pacific front in World War II make the area extremely diverse. Australia is the dominant economy of the continent and also one of the world’s most stable nation economies–the country boasts the second highest ranking on the HDI (behind Norway), 20 straight years of continued economic growth, low unemployment, and a financial system stable enough to be relatively unaffected by the financial crisis of 2008. Major industries for Australia ,also the area’s largest geographic nation and population (22.5 million), include services, natural resources, mining, and energy. New Zealand is also a highly developed nation whose economy has gone from agrarian to world market in the last half century and also boasts a very high HDI ranking (7), Meanwhile a majority of Oceania’s island nations depend upon fishing, agriculture (mostly sugar, cocoa, coffee, fruit, and sweet potatoes), forestry, and (recently) tourism–several of the smaller, poorer populations depend on sustenance farming. Many island nations have additionally been exploited for their supplies of phosphate and/or natural gas to the point of depletion in some cases (Nauru). The only nation to avoid the damaging effects of colonization and exploitation is the unique Tonga, a nation whose continued independence has made it one of the most well developed nations in the area.The most at risk nations on the continent are Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (both share an HDI ranking at a very low 157). Papua New Guinea, while growing rapidly due to its rich natural resources (petroleum and natural gas), has a vast number of poor–over a third of its extremely diverse population (over 6.5 million) live in extreme poverty (under $1.25/day). It is also considered on of the worst nations in the world for gender violence and sex trafficking rates.

 

The film industry for Oceania is concentrated Australia (and to a degree New Zealand), though even the total of feature films there are far outranked by almost thirty other filmmaking nations–Australia produced 43 films in 2011 (New Zealand, 25). Nevertheless Australia has produced some very popular films over the years which have grossed large numbers world wide. The most popular include the Crocodile Dundee (1986/88) movies, Australia (2008), Babe (1995), Happy Feet (2006), Moulin Rouge! (2001), and Strictly Ballroom (1992), While film has been present in Australia as long as film itself (the first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was released in 1906) and did experience a short boom in the first decades of the 20th century, the industry did not really make itself felt until the 1970s/80s when the Australian government began supporting film and arts financially, leading to a renaissance and the “Australian New Wave” film movement largely consisting of  “Ozploitation style” films–low budget, comedic, and action films which focus on the exploitation of Australian (read, indigenous) culture. Probably the most well known of Australia’s cinematic culture are the nation’s actors. Many well known movie stars hail from Australia including Mel Gibson, Geoffrey Rush, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, and many more. New Zealand’s film industry has recently been vaulted into world consciousness for its vast and majestic landscapes desirable to filmmakers: New Zealand is especially famous as the location where the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films were shot. A small number films have been produced elsewhere (mostly in Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga) in Oceania over the last half century.

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