The film – Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley is a documentary about the cost of developing in the famous north-west corner of Australia and the conflicts between the government and indigenous people who live in there. This film was shown at the Melbourne International Film Festival 2018, and I am fortunate to have an opportunity to view it at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
The event I went was on August 11th, at the beginning the procedure of entering a film festival I experienced was no different than going out for a movie at the theater. After we finished watching the film, the host of the festival brought the film producer and subjects on the stage and had a wonderful Q&A session with the audiences who came to the stage. I didn’t stay until the very end of the session due to another up-coming event on that day but the experiences I had on that day have changed my view of the film festival.
I never attended any types of film festival before, my only memory and knowledge of the film festival are from news reports and television. I used to think a film festival is like a big conference which invites a lot of famous directors, actors and critics to leave comments on newly released films, or like a fashion gala for celebrities. In fact, the function of the film festival is way beyond what I thought before. According to the book “Film Festival: History, Theroy, Method, Practice” by De Valck, Kredell and Loist (2016), film festivals resemble a classic public sphere for not only men in production, distribution but also create an open arena for people to debate about the film, explicating their thoughts and ideas. As Haaink and Yong-sook (2018) discussed in their paper, the annual film festival was started in Europe 70 years ago and the major purpose back then was to boom up and promote local film industry, this phenomenon still exists in today. For example, the establishment of Busan International Film Festival due to economic reasons because Busan needed a new industry for regenerating its economy. BIFF doesn’t have a very long history, but it achieved enormous success and it plays a vital role in showing Asian films to the west (Haaink, R and Yong-Sook, L. 2018 pp. 939-940).
However, the operating pattern for MIFF is similar to the A-list film festival which favor “art films” competition rather than budget-based Hollywood films. In this case, “Undermined” is a documentary created based on the controversial government development on the north-west corner of Australia. The director illustrates a reverse angle of how civilization damage the pristine environment. The MIFF provides audiences who purchased this ticket a chance to listen and understand the meaning behind each scene and filmmakers’ perspective toward the topic. Moreover, the documentary raises everyone including the government’s attention to this topic. The festival itself is neutral and unbiased but the films it presented to us is not just playing a role of exchanged commodities but the interactions among thoughts (De Valck, Kredell, B and Loist, S. 2016 pp. 93-95). The journey to the MIFF inspired me on how to prepare my own film festival.
De, VM, Kredell, B, & Loist, S (eds) 2016, Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice, Routledge, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.
MIFF. (2018). UNDERMINED: TALES FROM THE KIMBERLEY. Retrieved from http://miff.com.au/program/film/undermined-tales-from-the-kimberley
Hassink, R, & Yong-Sook, L 2018, ‘Exploring international film festivals from a co-evolutionary perspective: the cases of Berlin and Busan compared’, European Planning Studies, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 933-949. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2018.1446912.