Do you mind to watch an old movie at the film festival?

Talking about film festivals, you may imagine gorgeous stars walking along the red carpet while the flash bulbs clicking continuously. Actors and actress, along with directors and producers, bring their new movies to premiere. Well, for those top international film festivals like Berlin, Cannes, and Venice, this is true. But there are more small film festivals which only concentrate on a specific topic, and some international film festivals which are not so international. For these two kinds of film festivals, they do not have grand parades along red carpets, and they need some not so new films to fill up their event lists.

Take Melbourne International Film Festival 2018 as an example, it has an opening night ceremony, but you can`t find those Hollywood superstars. It has totally 444 programs to hold, with more than one forth films are actually not 2018 film. Specifically, there are 124 films screened in MIFF 2018 produced in 2017. 12 films are produced in the first 17 years(2000-2016) of the 21st century. 4 films are produced in the 1990s, 10 in the 1980s, 11 in the 1970s, 3 in the 1960s and 5 before 1960. The oldest film in the MIFF 2018 is the Australian silent film Those Who Love(McDonagh, dir. 1926). Couples of old films have “Selling Fast” or “Standby” label on the MIFF`s booking website, which means they are very popular. The number of it, comparing with new films, is quite proportionable. Hence it may show that audiences do not mind to watch an old movie in a film festival.

Films produced in 2018 are definitely new films, but those produced in 2017 and 2016, are actually natural and common to appear in a one or two years later film festival. The Long Tail phenomenon is the reason. It is used to describe the long sales schedule of less popular goods. For those products not so popular, the salers lengthen its sales time so that they may collect more profit in a long term. For those unknown or unpopular films, their producers bring them to the film festivals as many as they can, so that the distribution opportunities of the films are increased. From the other side, the films get more opportunities to be showed in front of different niches and audiences, decreasing the films` possibility of being buried.

But if a film festival is used as a place to show the films` long tails, it also shows that the film festival is not very mainstream in the world. Given Australia is an isolated and quite small market, it is understandable to see these films from one or two years ago screened at the MIFF. From the optimistic side, with MIFF Premiere Fund`s support, there are 6 premiere films at this year`s MIFF.

Reference:

MIFF Premiere Fund: http://miff.com.au/premierefund

Programs of MIFF: http://miff.com.au/program/films

By Jiaheng Zhang 28260252

Chinese mainland films in MIFF

If you go to Melbourne CBD, the abundance of Chinese faces among the streams of walking people probably will impress you a lot. You may also find a number of signs and posters written in Chinese occupying many boards and walls. The Chinatown Cinema screens Chinese films all the time, attracting the Chinese to watch stories about their compatriots. But this Chinese abundance does not appear in the Melbourne International Film Festival. This year, there are 9 Chinese mainland films screened among totally 444 films and events held in the MIFF. Given that China is Australia`s biggest trading partner, this number is by no means huge. Nonetheless, An Elephant Sitting Still(Hu Bo, dir. 2018) is voted as one of the Audience Award Winners: Narrative Features.

The history of Chinese films attending the MIFF is longer than most people think. Although Australia did not establish diplomatic relations with Red China until 1972, the first Chinese mainland film screened in MIFF was in 1956. Chinese Yue Opera film Butterfly Lovers(Sang Hu & Huang Sha, dir. 1953) is the first Chinese film that MIFF brought to Australian audiences. After that, couples of Chinese films landed Melbourne. In 1958, Chinese Silk(Han Hao-jan, dir. 1957) and Spring Comes South the Yangtze(Hao Chung-min & Chang Mengchi, dir. 1957) became the first two Chinese documentaries watched by Australian audience in the MIFF. New Year Sacrifice(Sang Fu, dir. 1956) is the first Chinese feature movie screened in the MIFF(1958). Adventures of a Small Carp(He Yumen, dir. 1958), which had won the silver award in Moscow International Film Festival 1959, is the first Chinese cartoon landing Melbourne. From the 1950s to 1970s, a few Chinese propaganda films were introduced to Australia through MIFF, which was almost unbelievable considering the ideological antagonism between two countries at that time.

With the time comes to the 21st century, more and more Chinese films come to the MIFF. This year, 9 Chinese movies are shown in the MIFF. Golden Lion winner Jia Zhangke`s Ash Is Purest White(dir. 2018) probably is the leading film among the 9. With his signature narrative, Jia`s new movie focuses on the ups and downs of ordinary people in the rapidly changing time. While An Elephant Sitting Still(Hu Bo, dir. 2018) maybe be the most attracting Chinese film: its director tragically committed suicide before the film won Fipresci Prize in Cannes. It is 230 mins long and the director refused to cut any part. The People`s Republic of Desire(Hao Wu, dir. 2018) is a very technological documentary, not only because it is about network live stream, but also the American production team gives it lots of visual effects to make it more interesting. Other films like Angels Wear White(Vivian Qu, dir. 2017), Girls Aways Happy(Mingming Yang, dir. 2018) and The Widowed Witch(Cai Chengjie, dir. 2018) also reflect Chinese current reality with a special concern of female perspective.

In general, although not many, Chinese films in the MIFF are distinctive and interesting. With Chinese cinema`s development, we may expect more and more Chinese films in future MIFF.

Reference

Search Result of “China” in MIFF Archive: http://miff.com.au/festival-archive/search?year=&title=china&director=&country=

By Jiaheng Zhang 28260252

Which country has the most movies in the MIFF 2018?

The Melbourne International Film Festival, as its name suggests, has hundreds of movies from all over the world. All the continents except Antarctica(as penguins don`t like cinema) have movies screened in the MIFF 2018. But do you know which country provides the most movies for the MIFF 2018? How many European and Asian movies are involved in the MIFF 2018? The following is a manual statistics about the MIFF 2018 in terms of nations.

Before we start, the standard of the statistics should be clear. Nowadays, more and more movies are the products of the international collaboration. Take the Ash Is Purest White as an example, it was filmed in China and directed by Jia Zhangke, but French producers also participated in its production. Hence it is regarded as a China-France co-production. In the following statistics, as long as a country`s producers participate in a film`s production, it counts once as this country`s film. Hence there are some overlaps in this statistics, for a co-production film can be counted more than once. The number shows the amount of the films that a country is totally involved in.

America totally contributes to 113 films for the MIFF 2018, well ahead of second-place Australia. Among the 113 films, there are Hollywood productions, independent productions, and co-productions as well. This reflects the status of America in the world`s film-making market. As the host, Australia participates in 80 films and events in the MIFF 2018, but a number of the events are not film screening but panel discussion or Q&A of the film producers. As Australia`s biggest “neighbour”, New Zeland contributes to 7 films.

As the birthplace of the cinematography, Europe totally participates in 221 films` production, very ahead of the second-place continent North America(totally 131 with Canada contributes to 9, Mexico 8, and Dominica 1). France contributes to 47 films, which is the first in Europe. UK and Germany are the second, with both 25 films. Belgium(15), Italy(14), Poland(12) and Spain(10) all have lots of co-production. The other 24 European countries together participated in 73 films, most of them are co-production. Actually, Europe is the continent that loves to collaborate on films most. A number of films are made by more than 3 European countries.

The Melbourne`s increasing Chinese population may make you overestimate the number of Chinese movies. But actually, there are only 9 movies from Chinese Mainland in the MIFF 2018, even not the most in Asia, unless we add Taiwan(5) and Hong Kong(1)`s amount to China. Japan(10) has the most contribution to the MIFF among all Asian countries and regions. South Korea, Iran, and Qatar each have 6 films, although all the Qatari films are co-production.

Brazil(12) has the most films in South America, followed by Argentina with 5. South America totally has 33 films.

Africa(totally 17) is almost a desert regarding the number of films. South Africa and Egypt each have 3 movies, while Tunisia has 2.

In general, America is undoubtedly the Big Mac in the international film market. Australia, though second, largely benefited from being the host nation of the MIFF. France, UK, and Germany are the three strongest countries in European cinema. Asian and South American filmmaking is not yet comparable in size to that of Europe and America. And Africa is now the least developed continent regarding film industry.

By Jiaheng Zhang 28260252

My experience of the MIFF 2018

This year`s Melbourne International Film Festival is my first time to participate in a film festival. As an ordinary audience, its a pleasure and a joy to​ have the opportunities to watch movies from all over the world with the MIFF. Thanks must go to people who work for the MIFF, especially more than 400 volunteers whose public spirit is admirable and essential to the MIFF.

I have watched 12 movies with different genres from all over the world during the MIFF. If I can, I want more. MIFF is indeed international and cosmopolitan. By movies, it provides a window for audiences to glimpse people, scenes and societies of different countries. I saw a romance in Poland in the Cold War; I saw the difficulty of the poor`s life in Japan in the Shoplifters; I saw the tense conflict between different races in Lebanon in The Insult. Film festivals like MIFF are truly the bridges to bring narratives and realities of foreign countries to the local audience.

The Chinese documentary People`s Republic of Desire is a good example. As a Chinese, I should say, although I know live streaming is very popular in China, I didn`t know it is such a big deal of money and participants. Millions of U.S. dollars are involved, and that`s only for one host in the annual ceremony. If I couldn`t imagine, neither could the non-Chinese audiences. After the screening, I heard a few people talked about the relationship between Internet life and the real life, but much more people were discussing: why Chinese people are so crazy about live streaming? To be honest, I don`t know neither. I believed some Australian people were thinking about how to find their own opportunities in the Chinese live streaming market, or how to use the Chinese experience for reference to help the Australian live streaming market. Among all the 12 MIFF movies I have seen, the People`s Republic of Desire evoked the most discussion. Here the foreign documentary brings a different reality to the local audience, help them to build a quick but superficial impression of the foreign society.

If MIFF is a bridge, some movies are the deluxe coaches, some are the normal bus, some are just pedicabs — different movies attract different amoung of audiences. The awarded movies, especially those won awards or reputations in Cannes or Berlin, always had the longest queue. That`s what happened at the Cold War(Best Director movie of Cannes), the Shoplifters(the Palme d`Or movie) and other famous movies. They were sold out very early, screened at the big theatre without any spare seat. They are the “deluxe coaches”. Everyone wants to see how good they are. When the Bulgarian movie Ága was about to screen, about one-third seats in the cinema are unoccupied. And when the Iranian movie Ava was wrongly screened instead of Ága due to the staff`s mistake — because the two names are too similar! For real — the audiences protested, and when the error cannot be corrected, the audiences left, without any interest of the Ava, which is also a MIFF movie. I guess Ága and Ava are the pedicabs, some people are interested in, but not many people, not much interest. There are surely more than one reasons to decide how popular a movie is.

You should really see how many people laughed when they were watching Nicolas Cage`s new movie Mandy. As a horror film, it seemed that Australian audiences had found many punchlines in it. Or maybe it is because people expressed their deep love for Cage by the laugh. A superstar like Cage, or a famous director like Jia Zhangke is definitely an important reason for people to gather at the cinema.

Here is my watching list of MIFF 2018:

My MIFF watching list

By Jiaheng Zhang 28260252