From national to international, from award-wining to little-known, numerous brilliant films from 79 countries were screened in Melbourne International Film Festival (known as MIFF) from 2nd August to 19th August 2018, to celebrate MIFF’s 67th festival since it started from 1952 as one of the oldest film festival around the world.
Tickets of award-wining works were selling fast such as two of my favorite films Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters) and Happy as Lazzaro. Shoplifters is a Japanese film about a family living by shoplifting to get through poverty. Complex emotions and bond between people were explored through the director Hirokazu Koreeda’s exquisite storytelling. The applause lasted for a long time while the film finished. Another Italian film Happy as Lazzaro was also embraced by audiences. It is about a young innocent peasant Lazzaro travelling in time due to his loyalty to his friend Tancredi – a nobleman. Nothing make much sense in this fantasy film directed Italian female filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher. Though, internationally speaking, there was less focus on Asian films compare to European works. Walsh (2012, p.40) supposes that might because film industries in East Asia emphasis more about commercial side in recent years.
MIFF not only sees another side of film, but also sees another side of the world. Donbass, starting with a sophisticate absurd speech of a fraud, featured the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Unfortunately, I missed the first five minutes of the film. But still I can sense a piece of the ridiculous scene during a war while there is no rules to limit authority and the lose of humanity. It has been a long time featuring political themes in films. Film festival programmers select quality films not only about aesthetics but also films present the issues around the world, try to rise the public awareness among those issues.
Apart from the foreign films, there are also a number of glamorous Australia made films shined in this festival. Undermined: Tales From the Kimberley is a documentary featured the dilemma of aboriginal community in Kimberley region. During the Q&A session, I can see how audiences be aware of the indigenous culture by this film and wandering the way to deal with the issues.
One of the biggest importance of film festival is its role as a gatekeeper. It is believed films screened in film festivals are ‘quality’ works from the overabundance of choice of around the world. Reviewing the experience I had in MIFF, I definitely enjoyed many interesting films with diverse themes from different part of the world. Although, not all films can be appreciated by audiences. There were groups of people leaving the cinema during Experimental Shorts screened. Hard to say I enjoyed either.
In addition, MIFF also did well on film education. There were teenagers attended animation sessions organized by school. I heard students around me talking about how protagonist in Lu Over the Wall moved like ninjia and Japaness culture.
Reviewing my attendance of MIFF’s 67th festival, I clearly cognize how MIFF branded itself through diverse films with different theme made in different countries. It presents the world to Australian audience while presenting Australia to the rest of world.
Walsh, M 2012, ‘The 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival’, Metro, no. 174, pp. 40-45.