Film festivals and social responsibility

On August 8, I watched a premiere film screening of MIFF, and it is also the first festival I attended in my life, which really impressed me. The movie I watched is Undermined:tales from Kimberley. This movie is directed by Nicholas Wrathall who is an award-winning director and producer known for Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia which opened to acclaim at Tribeca Film Festival.

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Undermined is supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, and mainly focuses on development issues in Kimberley. Despite the huge economic costs, mega-mining and pastoral developments threaten not just the pristine environment but more than 200 Indigenous communities and their peoples’ sacred links to country. In this film, Indigenous people talked about that they are desiring a meaningful negotiation. Facing directly to the battle between the Australian government and Indigenous people. The government wants to make Kimberley ‘the future economic powerhouse of Australia’, which are making Indigenous people homeless and nothing to rely on.

Different from other boring documentaries, Nicholas spends much of his film on the strong emotional string between Indigenous people and Kimberley, such as documenting the daily lives of Indigenous people in farms, scenes of they fishing on the coast, and people assembling at ancient rituals, which made the film contains strong humanistic feelings, and improved the entertainment.

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Before the film began, a musician named Albert Wiggan who also starred in this film performed his lyrical country song. Speaking of his inspiration for this song, he talked about his hometown and his life in the countryside. This is a part I really love in this screening, because it made the premiere more informative. From a big fan of live music’s perspective, it is a lot more engaging and enjoyable to hear a movie song live before watching the film. To some extent, if I saw a live session in the promotional materials of screening, it would make me more interested in watching that screening. Realizing this point may benefit the future festival we are going to host, because the film festival requires planners to attract the audience as many as possible. With more audience attending, economic income can be improved, which make the later work of the festival move more smoothly.

The inclusion of this realistic documentary film in the MIFF screening list reminds me of one thing that the importance of social attribute and motivation of film festivals. Film festivals are a social activity, which has mass influence. The Indigenous issue in Undermined may lead the public to pay attention to the plight of Indigenous people. It is the basic requirement that film festivals should take the responsibility of maintaining social legitimacy and having good impacts on mass. The theme of our group’s film festival is ‘immigration’. We should consider whether our festival can have a positive effect on the worldwide immigration trend and popularize the mental activities of the uprooted.

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