The Art of Government: Khoa Do's The Finished People and the policy reform of Community Cultural Development

Scott Brook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the production of the independent feature The Finished People (Khoa Do, 2003) in terms of a key factor reviewers and critics chose to play down: namely, that the director sought to capture public interest in Cabramatta (a suburb in Sydney's south west promoted as Australia's ‘most multicultural suburb’) in order to lift a Community Cultural Development (CCD) project out of the suburbs and deliver it to audiences of art-house cinema. While the film's representational strategies clearly reflect a tradition of independent Asian Australian cinema that critically negotiates the identity politics of state-sponsored multiculturalism, the film's mode of production had less to do with the avant-garde agendas reviewers compared it with, and more to do with an enduring governmental regime of pastoral pedagogy dedicated to the correction of ‘at risk’ subjects. Furthermore, the project strongly anticipated recent policy reforms to CCD initiated by the Australia Council for the Arts in 2004. Under the flexible rubric ‘Creative Communities’ these reforms seek to steer CCD workers away from cultural development as a narrow target of government intervention, and towards a more open and flexible range of policy goals and objectives. A close reading of the film's context of production reveals how such a policy shift might be expected to increase opportunities for local content to move between fields of cultural production, even as it multiplies dilemmas of formal accountability and aesthetic evaluation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-193
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Australasian Cinema
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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