Last week, I attended the Melbourne Film Festival with my friends. It was my first time taking part in an international film festival. The Melbourne International Film Festival is Australia’s first international film festival. It is the most influential film festival in the southern hemisphere, which has facilitated a close cooperation between Australia’s film workers and foreign filmmakers, contributing to the film industry in Australia. In this event, I experienced the Australian film culture. More importantly, this experience enabled me to better understand the the details film festival.
Retrieved from: http://miff.com.au/
The film we watched was “Undermined: Tales from Kimberley,” which focuses on the conflict between the original natural ecological environment of Kimberly and the development of the local economy. In this documentary, the director uses an objective perspective as well as simple and unadorned cinematography to present the story of Kimberley to the audience. The team surveyed the actual development costs of Kimberley where large scale mining and pastoral development not only threatened the pristine environment, but also undermined the sacred beliefs of the locals. Before the film was shown, the film director, the producer, explained the purpose and meaning behind the film and the background of the story. Albert, a musician from Kimberley, also gave the audience a musical performance, in which the lyrics are closely related to the daily life and culture of Kimberley. There was a question and answer session held at the end of the film. This was an interactive event where the audience could ask the director, producer, and creative team questions.
This experience gave me a new understanding of the setting of film festivals. I also learned more about the theory of film festivals in the lecture. Film festivals and their workers act as “gatekeepers” who are able to control the access to film and film culture (Stringer, 2001). The films screened by the festival need to conform to the theme of the festival, since with the selection of the film, the film festival staff should also consider whether the film is in line with the political orientation of the film festival. Take the Berlin Film Festival as an example. The Berlin Film Festival played an important cultural and political role in the convergence between the East and the West (Rüling and Pedersen, 2010). Looking back at the “Golden Bear” films since 2000, many of the award-winning films are consistent with the political orientation of the Berlin Film Festival. “Bloody Sunday” (2002) is on the subject of Northern Ireland and the “Bloody Sunday event.” “In this World” (2003) describes a nightmare journey and the fear of stowaways. “Gegen die Wand” (2004) reveals the confusion and struggle of a new generation of Turkish immigrants through the fate of the characters when they are faced with a conflict between reality and tradition. The jury acts as a gatekeeper, taking into account the political principles of the Berlin Film Festival.
Stringer, J.2001,’ Global cities and the international film festival economy’, Cinema and the city, vol.2, no.5, pp. 26-42.
Rüling,C.C. and Pedersen,J.S.2010,’ Film festival research from an organizational studies perspective’, Scandinavian Journal of Management, vol.26,no.3,pp.318-323