When I looked through the list of Melbourne-based film festival on Internet, I was surprised to find the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne( IFFM) which only shows Indian films. Because based on my superficial understanding of film festival, it is hard to imagine a film festival just includes films from one country, furthermore, the language of many of these films is not English. With curiosity and confusion, I attended the special events of IFFM which was held on Federation Square.
The special events on August 10 are Indian independence day celebration and Bollywood dance competition. Although it was rainy at that time, the atmosphere was lively and boisterous. The crowd includes Indian people, local Australian people as well as a few tourists from other countries. In the centre of Federation Square, with the raise of Indian national flag, the crowd burst into cheers. Bollywood dance competition is also impressive for me. All of the performers dressed in traditional Indian clothes, with the classical Bollywood style accompaniment music, they made exciting performances. Many audiences held up phones to record the performances. For me, it is a quite fresh as well as memorial experience to taste Indian culture in a Melbourne-based film festival.
According to De Valck( 2016: 3), “ When discussing film festivals’ outreach one should not only consider the way in which festivals differ in their appeal to international, national, and local audiences, but also take note that certain festivals target specific communities or demographic group.” In this respect, to develop a comprehensive idea of film festivals and further discuss them, it is necessary to pay attention to the film festivals which focus on particular communities. De Valck illustrates that these kinds of event could be referred to as “ identity-based festivals”. As for IFFM, since all of the selected films are from India, in addition the special events I attended which are mentioned above, it could be considered as an Indian-based festival to some extent. The target audiences of IFFM are mainly divided into Indian people live in Melbourne and local Australian people who are interested in Bollywood film. In addition, since Federation Square is a cultural center of Melbourne city, the special events could be able to attract more attention for IFFM. In this perspective, more people live in Melbourne are encouraged to have a taste of Indian culture.
“ The governmental, nongovernmental, independent, commercial, and transnational natures of film festivals also create different relations to public power and private interests within which public spheres emerge.”( Wong cited in De Valck, 2016: 91). It means that film festivals could address particular communities and recreate publics and discourses. In this perspective, on one hand, IFFM could be seen as a public sphere which gathers Indian people in Melbourne and facilitates the recreating of discourse within this particular community. On the other hand, for all the other people in Melbourne, IFFM gives access to have a taste of Indian culture.
De Valck, M( 2016). Film Festivals: History, theory, method, practice. NY: Routledge.