The Australian Film Finance Corporation (FFC) has been forced into releasing a statement confirming that it is Catriona Hughes' own decision to leave her job when her second contract as chief executive expires this year. The move was prompted by the publication of several articles implying she is being forced out.
"Any suggestion that she has been 'pushed' out of the job is false and mischievous," said FFC chair Geoff Levy. "Ms Hughes decision to leave is her own personal choice and she will be greatly missed. The board of the FFC has nothing but respect and admiration for her stewardship of the FFC and for her contribution to the film industry as a whole."
"I am very disappointed the way it has blown up and I believe it is very unseemly," Hughes told Screendaily. "I formally told the board last year that I did not want to extend my contract once it expires in June this year, subject to anything else coming up such as their failure to appoint a new chief executive. In such a circumstance I would be happy to stay until December."
She said she has a personal and professional conviction that it is proper and appropriate that organisations such as the FFC need renewal, and has been telling anyone who asks that she does not intend to stay on. In June she will have headed the FFC for five years, via a two-year then a three-year contract. She was one of the architects of the FFC, which was established in 1988.
Her pre-departure priorities include deciding how to disperse the extra funding to be provided for television drama from July 1, and getting a decision on whether the unconnected Film Licensed Investment Companies pilot scheme, set up several years ago as a way of attracting private investors, would be extended. The FFC is the vehicle through which the Federal Government invests about A$50m per year into film, television and documentaries.