MIFF is the first film festival which I attended. To be honest, in my opinion, the film festival was some activities about Red Carpet, stars, actors, directors, awards, headlines of media coverage before I went to a real film festival. However, there is little news about audiences. In the MIFF this year, I watched a film called The Eulogy. It is a feature documentary, which for the first time unravels the truths and myths behind the life and career of one of Australia’s most brilliant, prolific and least understood concert pianists— Geoffrey Tozer. A live piano performance was presented and a simple welcome ceremony for special guests (family and friends of Geoffrey Tozer) before the movie was shown. After the screening, a Q&A with director Jannie Hosking and special guests was held.
Before going to the screening room, all audiences lined up outside the cinema. While waiting, I found that most of the audiences were middle-aged and elderly, I was very puzzled at that time and I did not know why young people are less. This situation was more obvious after entering the cinema. After a live piano performance and a simple welcome ceremony, the movie was shown. The film presented the bumpy life of Geoffery Tozer, many of the audience was moved, and I even heard the sobbing of the surrounding audience. Suddenly, I understood why so many audiences were the older. These audiences were the same age as Geoffery Tozer, and perhaps they knew more about him.
Many features of film festival can help to produce a sense of ‘liveness’, Q&A sessions and filmmaker appearances are one of them. These sessions also were held after the screening of the documentary. In fact, I hardly knew this pianist and so I could only listen quietly in this session. It cannot be denied that this session provides a better opportunity for audiences to understand the story behind the film and the life of Geoffery Tozer that is not familiar to the public. I have mentioned that most of the audiences are middle-aged and the elderly, I thought many of them knew about the pianist as well as appreciated him. Maybe they also can watch the documentary in other places or by other ways, but Melbourne international film festival builds its appeal as a special experience of film through the Q&A session and filmmaker appearances, which is not accessible elsewhere. Only when attending the MIFF, the audience has an opportunity to be closer to the film, to the filmmaker and the pianist. The film festival made some people who are interested in Geoffery Tozer get together and became a special place where the access to cinema and the world of filmmaking seems to ‘right there’. I found that film festival is not only a feast for films and all relevant workers, but also a gathering for ordinary audiences who may like, favor, or experience the same or similar things or persons. Something intangible brings people together and a special experience is presented to them.