How MIFF teach me setting up a film festival? Part 1


If you are obsessed with film as me, then you must go there in Melbourne from August 2nd to August 19th.That’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). I want to talk about MIFF, which is already 67-year-old, and how it helps me understand film festival.


Melbourne is overflowing with film festivals. People from worldwide join in different kinds of film festivals which spring up every week in Melbourne. You may ask, what is a film festival?


Film festival in Melbourne normally is a way for directors to test the water with a season of films to assess the audience potential before going for a full scale festival event at the outset. Some festivals even target certain key audience groups for example, Asian audience.


In August, you can see the posters of the 67th MIFF on Melbourne’s streets, subways stations and everywhere. MIFF is one of the most important film festivals in Australia and one of the earliest film festivals in the world. It is certainly a landmark event in Melbourne. Like many well-known film festivals, MIFF annually screens filmmaking from around the world and also including Australian films.


The world premiere of many Australian films is held at MIFF, and many topical overseas films will be screened in advance at MIFF before they are sure to land in Australia, such as the ’an elephant sitting still’ from China this year. As a result, MIFF is also a good opportunity to watch these films first.


How MIFF actually operate?

Large film festivals usually have multiple screening units, and MIFF is no exception. No matter what type of film you like, you can find movies for your taste in all major units. Some famous units include:

Accent on Aisa

Australian Showcase

Culinary (Gourmet Movie)



Next Gen

Seeking Refuge

Virtual Reality


There is a website for people who want to choose films to enjoy: going to the program page of the official website of the festival, and selecting the program you are interested in in the search bar on the left based on country, genre, or language. It has to be mentioned that only movies from non-English speaking countries will have subtitles.


If you prefer Asian or Chinese movies, don’t miss the Accent on Asia unit. The films selected this year include ‘angles wear white’, ‘ash is purest white’, ‘an elephant sitting still’ and so on. Also if you are interested in masterpiece, don’t miss the Headliners unit, which has the most popular finalists and award-winning films at the Cannes Film Festival this year, for example, the Korean film ‘burning’ with high topicality and high scores, and the award-winning film “climax” at the Cannes Film Festival. Besides these, Virtual Reality is undoubtedly an early adopter, featuring films from around the world for VR viewing experiences, offering a ‘full immersion’ viewing experience. In some sessions, there will be directors and guests asking questions and discussions.


The biggest distinction between major international film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, or Berlin, and MIFF, is that these major events are focused on the film industry. They have markets attached where films are bought and sold for theatrical and other forms of exhibition and distribution. This is in contrast to audience-focused festivals which seek to present a broad range of films to an audience which might not otherwise have access to such material. Distributors will attend market festivals to buy product for release internationally in the coming year. MIFF seek to cover both angles, attracting specialist buyers and sellers but also appealing to a large general audience with a particular interest in the documentary genre.

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