2018 Melbourne International Film Festival—A Cultural Exchange

2018 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF for short) witnessed my first time to participate in a film festival, which is unlike the Cannes and Berlin Film Festival where lights, red carpets and celebrities come together in crowds in my impression. MIFF is more like a cultural symbol of Australia and important role on the national and international cultural map. It is a nonprofit organization that has been operating since 1952. Therefore, it is not only the most important film festival of Australia, but also one of the oldest film festivals in the world, which facilitates people to get close contact with art culture.

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The theme of this film festival is “see another side of film”. The film festival was held from August 2 to 19. There are many types of films on display, and people can choose the type that they are interested in to buy the ticket on official website. My partner and I chose an animated film titled “On Happiness Road” in the category of “show me love”, which is a groundbreaking animation presents the chronicle of a young woman’s coming of age through the sweeping swirl of social change in Taiwan. Director Sung Hsin-yin presents a unique and heart-wrenching hand-drawing visual feast based on personal experiences. The film tells an exclusive story in Taiwan that has never appeared in media. As it is a maiden work of Sung Hsin-yin, the lack of fame made it difficult for the film to get show times in France. However, due to the continuous praise on social media and the audience during Annecy International Animated Film Festival, the French side finally included the film into the schedule in advance, so that the film can be presented to French people.Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 9.58.59 PM

Australia is a country of immigrants with diversified cultures intertwined and mutually integrated. At the cinema, there were not only many Asian Chinese, but also many people from all over the world who have different cultures. It is one of the few Chinese movies I watched in cinemas in Melbourne. I thought I could easily understand the whole movie, but I didn’t expect most of the dialogues in this movie from Taiwan are in Southern Fujian Dialect. Therefore, I had to interpret the whole film through English subtitles and laughed and shed tears like other audiences did. Before watching the movie, I specially searched and watched the director’s speeches at other film festivals. He explained different age groups’ different definitions of happiness and also introduced different people’s different definitions of happiness. I think this is the charm of a film festival. What it shows is not only the film itself, but also the thinking about the theme and the deep understanding of different countries’ cultures.

By the depiction of individual growth, the film condenses decades of Taiwan history into a two-hour animation. Later on, the return of the protagonist to Taiwan after living and working in the United States also shows Chinese people’s self-identification and exploration of “root”, which is the thinking of Taiwanese to break away from American-oriented idea. As I am also an overseas student, I was also lost in thought. However, as the film is associated with political issues, it may not be released under China’s current political system. Through this film festival, I had a chance to learn about the history of Taiwan from a different perspective and indirectly understand different views of people in other countries on Chinese history, which is a meaningful experience.

 

References:

MIFF 2018, About MIFF, viewed 22 August 2018, http://miff.com.au/about

Gary, R. (2018). MIFF 2018: Asia in focus at the Melbourne international film festival, Retrieved from https://thereelbits.com/2018/07/11/miff-2018-asia-in-focus-at-the-melbourne-international-film-festival/

MIFF, 2018. MIFF. [Online]
Available at: http://miff.com.au/program/film/on-happiness-road

 

By DI JIA (28240979)

 

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