“MIFF has found a place to call home”

Since the end of 1990s, Melbourne International Film Festival (referred to as MIFF) became the largest and most important film culture event in Australia (although it was established in 1952). On the MIFF 50th anniversary in 2001, a publication of a short history of the event was titled A Place to Call Home (Stevens 105). As the question, ‘what does home mean to MIFF’, was asked in Stevens’ article (105), this title has also caused my curiosity. This blog therefore would discuss two aspects – MIFF talks and the catalogue of the festival – in terms of 2018 MIFF, also, exploring the relationship between the meaning of home and MIFF. All arguments will be based on the Stevens’ article about crisis and recovery at the MIFF, the topic of film festival as event (the topic of seminar 3) as well as my personal opinions.

Two things are worth noting, given my understanding of the development of MIFF. The first one is MIFF talks, which is normally a 60 or 90 minutes talk with speakers who are professionals active in the film, television or music industries. Themes of talks are various, from talking about the greatest soundtracks of a certain movie to things in front and behind the camera, or from urban design and film to pop culture and science. Art of the Score: Blade Runner 2049, for example, is one of the talks was held on 4 August 2018 at Dockland library. Within a small (probably only 5 rows of seats) but warm room, three speakers talk about the soundtracks of Blade Runner 2049. More than 90% audience have attended the talk have saw the film, this small space thus created a special atmosphere where the ‘access to filmmaking world seems to right there’ for particular audiences. On the other hand, the festival as an event provides some ‘extra’ elements which are not accessible in other places.

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MIIF Talks: Art of the Score: Blade Runner 2049
Speakers: Andrew Pogson (left); Dan Golding (middle); Seja Vogel (right)

The second interesting thing is about catalogue of film. Early in the Melbourne Film Festival (MFF), it is said that the organization limited film selection to marketable films. But the result seems to not positive enough (Stevens 115). By restructuring, to expand films catalogue is considered one of the most effective strategies to MIFF’s success. 34 categories have been set up in today’s MIFF, including not only animation, documentaries or history uncovered, but moreover has been catalogued by country (such as Australian, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa). Furthermore, some activities such as MIFF talks or MIFF festival lounge (virtual reality) are among the category, either. Through the growing category, it is evident that MIFF now connects with the local culture context (aboriginal, multicultural and even immigrant) to develop.

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Special Event: CARRIBERRIE (a documentary of indigenous Australian dance and song) with a live dance performance

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An unique cinematic experience: audience lied down and watched on the 180° hemispherical dome screen

Based on such situation, some scholars questions MIFF lacks ‘secure internal identity’ (Stevens 134), whereas Stevens argues that the past experience of MIFF demonstrated that a closed film festival would separate audience from the event so that couldn’t sustain (134).

Going back to the relationship between home and MIFF, MIFF focus more on customers/personal experience which means people will have their own version of the festival (Stevens 132). In other words, both local audience, immigrant and international film lovers who are in Melbourne are all elements of MIFF’s audiences. Hence, when saying ‘MIFF has found a place to call home’ (Stevens 136), it says that MIFF is a home for all film-loving audience in Melbourne, as well as says the festival has an own home (i.e, success) in Melbourne.

Reference:

  • Stevens, K. “Between Success and Failure: Crisis and Recovery at the Melbourne                        International Film Festival.” Australian Film Festivals: audience, place,                          and exhibition culture, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, pp. 105-136.

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