“Film festivals are the most prominent alternative exhibition context for film” (De Valck, 2006, p.27)
Last week I attended MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival) on Flinders street and watched the documentary undermined：tales from the Kimberley from the director Nicholas Wrathall. This film last for more than one hour, which explored the confliction between economic development and the original ecological environment of Kimberley. They focused their attention on the contradiction between indigenous community residents’ living conditions and the local government. From the perspective of ethical concern，they explored the fairness and justice from social events.
MIIF undermined：tales from the Kimberley venue
After I entered the venue, there were four parts to the event. The first one is welcome to country section: film director, producer, and Kimberley musician/activist Albert Wiggan explained the background, their aims and goals, and the theme of this film. Then, followed by a beautiful musical performance, the lyrics are also tightly related to Kimberley aboriginal culture and humanity ethics. After more than one hour of screening time, there was an activity of Q&A held, which is an interactive section with both filmmakers, film jury and audiences, this part makes me rethink about the film festival. Through experiencing the interaction of films and audiences in MIFF, I understood the importance of the festival settings integrity for audiences which enable them to understand the aims and goals of the production.
I participated in the event group of our film festival, and I found that the attendance of MIFF taught me how to be assigned to an event group as a part working with film festival activities. Not only the opening and closing ceremonies, but also the art activities related to the theme of the festival, and the interactive communication all are elements we needed to be aware. In the first week of class, I learned that the film festival contains not only red carpets, movies, but also media tools and springboards functions to promote movies and producers, which allows film itself and social events, politics, and art to engage with the public.
In week 2, I learned the relationships between film festivals and films self. Do the film festivals exist as springboards for movies or as gatekeepers? On the one hand, MIFF as a film festival in Melbourne helped the documentary undermined：tales from the Kimberley to be promoted and infiltrated in public. For example, through the filmmakers explored their theme and aimed at the beginning, audiences started to carry questions of the aboriginal problems while watching. After the film ends, audiences and the interviewer ask questions about the social problems and ethical concerns which brought by the film, then a more in-depth discussion succeed. In this process, the prestige and social attention of this documentary improve.
On the other hand, film festivals screen movies which are appropriate for their festival theme, so, the information obtained by the public is the outcome set already by the film festival. Filmmakers will also consider the proneness of a film festival for their both economic and political concern, and interests of target audiences (Stringer, 2001). For example, Kimberley’s representative values are suitable for Melbourne’s ‘festival image’ (Stringer, 2001).
Stringer, J. 2001, “Global cities and the international film festival economy”, Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context, pp.134-144.