The Planning Skills of Film Festival from MIFF

Before attending the Melbourne International Film Festival, I thought the film festival was far away from my life. In the past, I only learned about film festivals through Internet or TV programs. However, by attending MIFF, I began to have new ideas about the film festival. In my opinion, the film festival is not only a grand gathering for filmmakers but also a platform for ordinary people to discover art and explore life. As the Kirsten mentioned in her book, the mission of film festivals is not to cater to the tastes of the public or the established interests of royal audiences, but to find audiences for movies of great value.

Melbourne International Film Festival is the first international film festival in Australia. It is also one of the most influential international film festival in the Southern Hemisphere. As a not-for-profit organisation, MIFF provides transformative experiences for audiences and filmmakers alike. However, in Kirsten’s book, we can learn that in the 1980s, MIFF experienced decline and faced many challenges. This situation did not recover until the 1985s. After reorganising the council, MIFF adjusted its specific objectives and program organisation in 1987s. The film festival recognises the importance of changes in audiences and decides to relocate MIFF. There is no doubt that MIFF has become a festival for audiences to provide different movie experiences since 1990s. But, more importantly, MIFF also provides a platform for publicity of Australian non-mainstream films and international films.

By attending the MIFF, I not only have a new idea of the film festival but also learn more strategies about the film festival planning. Firstly, the selection of the venue. In Kirsten’s book, she mentioned that in 2008, curator and critic Lynden Barber mentioned the selection of MIFF venues, noting:

For more than a decade MIFF has been blessed with an unusually well-placed series of venues, all within short walking distance of one another and in an area packed with cafes, bar and restaurants. All of this has helped to create that undefinable but infectious festival atmosphere that attracts audiences and make them want to come back.

It can be seen that the selection of venues is very important. The film festival I attended was held at the Forum Theatre. The Forum theatre has a long history and offers a rich cultural atmosphere for audiences. When I first walked into the building, I was fascinated by its unique decoration.

The entrance to the Forum Theatre
The hall of the Forum Theatre

Secondly, their special events. The documentary I watched in MIFF is called UNDERMINED: TALES FROM THE KIMBERLEY. Before the film began, the actors were arranged to perform a musical performance for the audience. To be honest, movie-related music enables viewers to enter the scene faster. Moreover, after the end of the screening, there was also a Q&A session. Obviously, the face-to-face communication between the audience and the creator can make the audience understand the film better.

The Q&A session

At last, souvenirs related to films. For example, when the event ended, the volunteers sent a small card to the audience.

As shown in the photo, the front of the card is the Kimberley landscape, and the back is asking people to take action. This card is not only a souvenir for the audience, but also a convenient message for people who want to protect the aboriginal culture.

In general, the MIFF gave me a lot of inspiration about the planning of the festival, which is very helpful for my future study.



MIFF. (2018). About MIFF.  Retrieved from

MIFF. (2018). Undermined: Tales From The Kimberley. Retrieved from  

Stevens K. (2016) A Festival for Every Occasion: Niche Programming, Event Culture, and Vertically Integrated Film Festivals. In: Australian Film Festivals. Framing Film Festivals. Palgrave Macmillan, New York

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