Check out the 2011 2012 BOFA Film Festival

Big Picture Debate.

FREE Big Picture Debate 2013 – “Our screen addiction is destroying us”

Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 12.30pm

The innovative Big Picture Debate has become a feature of BOFA following its success  in 2011 and 2012.  In 2013 it is planned to take on the challenging issue of the impacts – positive and negative – of our addiction to screens in today’s society. Smart-phones, iPods, tablets, computers and TVs are wrecking our attention spans, triggering depression, and a sedentary lifestyle linked to heart disease, strokes etc. Video game and internet addictions create emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal symptoms. Screens are hammering the cinema and TV, with global content destroying national identity & local film industries. Digital books, magazines and newspapers are destroying traditional publishing.

BUT is it really so bad? After all, we are more connected to the world than we have ever been. Social media has the power to change public – and politicians – opinions. The best of the world’s entertainment is a click away. Digital books, magazines and newspapers have made access to information cheaper and more democratic. Screen based stories can now be made on DSLR cameras, even smart phones, making everyone a potential film maker.

BOFA gathers two teams of outstanding speakers to debate the controversial and topical subject “Our Screen Addiction is Destroying Us”. Team Against: Matt Deaner, Executive Director, Screen Producers Association of Australia; and Freya John, 18-year-old Scotch Oakburn College student, digital artist and blogger. Team For: Garry Bailey, media consultant and ex-editor of The Mercury ; and Cate Sinclair, CEO Cornerstone Youth Services Inc – lead agency for headspace Launceston and Devonport. The host will again be Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre, Sydney.

  • Sequence : Overview/scene setting/welcome, preliminary vote, then 10 minutes speeches with visuals per team, audience & panel interaction guided by moderator, then final voting (looking to see if there is a change of perception due to the debate)
  • The audience will be invited to support or question the speakers before the teams sum up
  • The audience votes on whether they feel, on balance, that our screen addiction is destroying us – or not
  • The debate is video-ed and will be broadcast by ABC1 on ABC Big Ideas in early 2014.(TBC)

Subscribe to the free BOFA newsletter to get updates as the programme firms up

Highlights from BOFA 2012


Big Picture Debate 2012

The 2012 topic social media does more harm than good was robustly discussed in front of a live audience at the Festival Hub, QVMAG Inveresk, with prominent Australian speakers like high profile comedian, author and broadcaster Catherine Deveny, who recently appeared on the SBS programme Go Back to Where You Came From and who is a well known user of social media. Other speakers included Lynden Barber, film journalist and leading thinker on the role of social media, Karen Pickering editor of feminist magazine Cherchez la Femme and  Paul Oosting, campaign manager of social activism group GetUp.

The discussion was hosted by Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre, Sydney.

Supported by news clips and other visual material, Simon Longstaff  used a hypothetical scenario to challenge the panel with the pros and cons of this powerful new channel for opinion and comment, which is affecting the way everyone interacts and thinks today.  The result was an engaging and entertaining hour of debate and discussion on an issue that is dividing opinion around the world.

Southern Cross and Telstra filmed the debate uploading it live to the internet via YouTube, identifying the panel discussion as from BOFA in Launceston, Tasmania. Hobart’s MONA  downloaded the discussion live at their Eros and Thanatos Room. Viewers had the opportunity to vote on whether they felt, on balance, social media was more of a force for good or causes more harm than good. Votes were by SMS making the event a true “breath of fresh air” in terms of audience participation world-wide.

The debate video is now available at the Big Picture Debate website to watch.

It is planned that The Big Picture Debate will also be broadcast early in 2013 across Australia and Asia-Pacific by the ABC, via ABC1, Australia Network and podcast. Specific venues such as Federation Square Melbourne are interested in screening the panel session in 2013 as well.

Big Picture Debate 2011

The 2011 debate – The Screen is Mightier than the Sword – was broadcast nationally via ABC1, internationally on the Australia Network and podcast on in February 2012.

Hosted by Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre speakers included:

  • Scott Rhodie – Digital Communications Manager for National Broadband Network Co.and an organiser of Digital Citizens
  • Major General (ret’d) Jim Molan– Coalition’s Chief of Operations in Iraq and author ‘Running the War in Iraq’
  • Jonathan auf der Heide – Actor, Writer, Teacher and Director (‘Van Diemen’s Land’ 2009. ‘Hells Gates’ 2008)
  • Trish Lake – Producer, Freshwater Pictures, ex-President of Screen Producers Association of Australia
  • Marcia Langton – Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne and actress ‘Here I Am’
  • Dr Natasha Cica – Director, Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society, University of Tasmania, social columnist on culture/politics

The Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival (BOFA) continues to push the boundaries of debate by integrating images and arguments in a new, visually striking form of ‘hypothetical’. Festivals are at their best when their own processes are as creative as those of the artists they showcase. That’s the reputation BOFA is forging in the world of ideas.

- Dr Simon Longstaff, Executive Director, St James Ethics Centre

This is what Simon Longstaff from the James Ethics Centre has to say