MIFF and film festival circuit

The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is an annual film festival, founded in 1952. It is the largest film festival in both Australia and the southern hemisphere. MIFF can be seen as an Australian cultural icon which is an essential part to put this cosmopolitan city on the national and international cultural map. This is why I decided to attend this film festival. Meanwhile, I felt fancy and excited because this was my first time to attend film festival. When I was browsing the film lists showed on the official website of MIFF. I was attracted by the documentary of a celebrity, thus I chose to watch Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist which is a story about Vivienne Westwood fighting to maintain her brand’s integrity, her principles and her legacy. This film is the first time to encompass the remarkable story of one of the true icons. The film was screened at Forum Theatre, where I felt a retro sense when I was seated to watch the film.
According to Dina (2009), “through festivals links, a film from an obscure source can be picked up by a succession of festivals and shown consecutively in various localities, thus getting truly global exposure and a wonderful subsidized exposure”. After watching the film, I found that the documentary film, Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, after premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival which can be seen as a “dominant centre” (big festival), except Melbourne International Film Festival, the film was showed at various subordinator peripheries (subordinate festivals) such as Toronto International Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival and New Zealand International Film Festival. When showing the film between different nations and regions through various film festivals, the film festival circuit forms. This circuit achieves a “proliferation and distribution of such events around the world, establishing a new core-periphery relation” (Julian, 2011).Nowadays, due to limited spatial and time of film festivals, it is necessary for filmmakers to send their films to various film festivals continuously, aiming at attracting more potential audiences around the world. Thus add-value is consequent on the popularity of the film. In this way, the film festival circuit is not only a good exhibition platform for filmmakers, but can be a revenue steam for the film.
Since film festivals have become an important networked global distribution, the “long-tail effect” becomes significant for this alternative distribution network (Skadi, 2016). It is necessary for Melbourne International Film Festival to consider its niche market. Apart from mass culture what most audiences are interested in, MIFF as a multifarious film festival tries to reach more specific audiences or “minor genres”. The documentary, Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist was showed to attract target audiences who are interested in watching documentaries or like sub-culture or fashion elements. This action indicates that MIFF aims at building parallel circuits while also being interconnected with the general network. On the other hand, the film festival circuit is not inherently networked due to unstable supply chain. Thus it is vital for MIFF to cooperate with other film festivals, trying to establish a steady supply chain.


Dina, I. (2009), “The Film Festival Circuit”, Film Festival Yearbook 1: The Festival CirCuit, Scotland: St Andrews Film Studies 23-39

Julian, S. (2001), “Global Cities and the International Film Festival Economy” , Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context 134-44

Skadi, L. (2016), “The film Festival Circuit: Networks, Hierarchies and Circulation”, Film Festivals: History, theory, method, practice, NY: Rutledge, 49-64

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