The experience of attending the opening night of CASFFA 2018

CASFFA (Czech and Slovak film festival) 2018 is taking place in Melbourne from 12th to 26th September. Before it, seldom did I have watched films from Czech or Slovak and knew less about their culture so this experience of attending the opening night of it leaves me some special impression and makes me think more about the meaning of film festivals.

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As is argued by Thomas and Kim (2011), the motivation of the audience attending the festival is the desire of watching quality films which could bring them a good and enjoyable environment. The films chosen to screen at the festival must be carefully selected carefully. Although the impression of the view of audiences may be subjective and hard to measure, some signs of audience reaction can help to reveal to some degree. For example, the film <The Hastrman> which screened on the opening night of CASFFA can be regarded as a quality one. The film tells a story of a nobleman who acts strangely returning to a village and the things he leads to happen, which is fulfilled the factors of romance, fantasy, suspense and a bit of horror.  According to the observation, audiences were attracted by the plot all along, laughing while the character acting ridiculously, exclaimed when the scary puppet dropped out of the cabinet.

 

According to Peranson (2008, p.23), one of the most important purposes of film festivals is ‘providing audiences with opportunities to enjoy commercially unviable films projected in a communal space – films that most communities, even the most cosmopolitan, otherwise would not have the opportunity to see’. The films in CASFFA may rarely have the chance to screen in the cinema to make the public known, but there must be many specific audiences being interested in them, and the festival gives them the access to. The coexistence of both circuits (cinema chain) and film festivals make the film industry more vivid and sophisticated and can attract more audiences.

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Apart from the film itself, the atmosphere that in the festival may be exceptional and irreproducible, especially for the opening night. In CASFFA opening night, drinks were offered which made the people attended feel relaxed and enjoyable to chat with each other. Before the screening, the creator of chief of the festival gave their introduction, including the artistic director Cerise Howard who has given a lecture in our class, all of them gave warm welcome to the audience. The festival is like a bridge for the audience and filmmakers or between film professionals, for them to have a chance to communicate (Peranson, 2008). After the screening, audiences could also take part in the post-film party, where live music played and people exchanged their feelings about the film and discussed the film plots. Different from watching films in the cinema that people just leave respectively when empty after the show, and the way of discussing may be chatting with people around or refer from comments online, the after party gave people the opportunity to share thoughts face to face with like-minded.

(By Jie Mei)

References:

Peranson, M., 2008. First you get the power, then you get the money: Two models of film festivals. Cineaste, 33(3), p.37.

 

Thomas, T. and Kim, Y.H., 2011. A study of attendees’ motivations: Oxford film festival. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences, 10(1).

Thoughts from the Korean Film Festival in Australia

The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) was held in Melbourne from 6th to 13th of September, and it was the ninth year of this festival. The films screened in the festival are various, including high-budget films, indie films, pop ones, which offers a platform to display the Korean culture.koffia2018-1

 

Compared with the international or local film festival, the Korean film festival may target on the narrower audience. The audience who it can attract may be the minorities, who are interested in Korean films or culture. Take myself as an example, the reason why it interested me is that, being a Chinese, we have the similar culture, and sometimes similar social issues, by watching Korean film may arouse sympathy and can have much understanding. Apart from that, I had done some research on Korean war films in one subject when doing the undergraduate course, so the film ‘A Taxi Driver’ attracted me by telling the story of the critical uprising event and political issues.

 

In the film ‘A Taxi Driver’, it portrays a period of distressing history. It tells a story of a taxi driver who in the beginning just wanted to earn much money by driving a German reporter to Gwanju to film and record the uprising, but finally witnessed the students and common people were repressed and the death of them which gave him the determination to assist the reporter to cover it and seek for help. The film itself is touching, and it makes people feel much sadder since it is based on the reality which has ever happened almost forty years before. While watching it, many people teared which shows that the charm of films is that no matter which country you are from or which culture you have, films can give people a chance to experience more and stimulate more sympathy, and festivals like KOFFIA are playing an important role of helping to realize it.

 

As de Valck et al (2016, p.186) assert that, ‘the art of film and its exhibition cannot be separated from its politics’, the film is selected to screen in the festival reflects that their attitude of facing up to history. Choosing this historical film to display on the overseas platform shows that directors of the festival want to express the national identity, and make use of the opportunity to describe the selfhood and humanity. They did not hide the scar from history or avoid speaking up about this, to the contrary, told frankly to the people who are too young to experience it or from the different culture that never heard about it. Making people reflect and rethink the history in the height of humanity may bring more social values.

 

Festivals like KOFFIA also creates people a feeling of being in community. The films in the festival have different themes, which may fulfill the different desires and interests for audiences from different ages, where the audience can enjoy the fun brought from films and think about social or historical issues under the topic of the same culture.

(By Jie Mei)

References:

de Valck, M., Kredell, B. and Loist, S. eds., 2016. Film festivals: History, theory, method, practice. Routledge

 

The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) 2018, ‘The Korean Film Festival returns for 2018 bringing the best Korean films down under’, viewed 10 September 2018, http://www.koffia.com.au/

To see the role of film festival

Film festivals may bring the audience numbers and various films in a period of time. Take MIFF as an example, there are more than 400 films showing within 18 days (Mills, 2018). Normally, most of the films released in the cinema are commercial ones produced by big companies or starring famous actors/actresses. Film festivals can provide the platform for films other than commercial ones being noticed by the public, like independent films, low-cost films, and so forth. The documentary ‘Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley’ premieres at MIFF to raise more people’s attention on the issue of overdevelopment in Kimberley and the Aborigines’ lives there, the topic of which people may ignore at ordinary times. Besides, different from the films released in the cinema need to be censored, the films showing in the film festival are invited by the programmers after their submissions (Winfrey, 2016). Therefore, the category, topic, content of the films in film festival may be broader since the criteria of screening is relative flexible.

 

Furthermore, for the international film festival like MIFF, more foreign films can be available. It is not only for the audience that can have the chance to appreciate exotic culture, the producers or filmmakers can have access to different ideas of filming and to communicate with each other. In the interview on ABC RN with Michelle Carey who is the director of MIFF, she mentions that the festival would provide an opportunity for Australian filmmakers to have an international mind. Apart from the professionals, for those who want to devote in the film industry in the future, film festival offers work opportunities like being the volunteers of it. Refer to the experience of attending MIFF, volunteers can be seen everywhere around the event site. Doing the voluntary work in the activities alike may bring some experience and the access to get closer to the film industry.

 

Except for attracting the audience and the film professionals, film festival can also help the social activists to realize their appeal. For instance, the main character Albert in the documentary ‘Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley’ conveys his thoughts and emphasis after the screening, which may leave the audience more impressive feelings that joints the connection of the art (documentary) and the reality. To some degree, people’s desire of protecting the environment and the culture there may get more intense. After the cinema let out, the audience would get the promotional card of the documentary which has the slogan that appealing people to take action to support the campaign in Kimberley.

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Overall, the film festival provides a great chance to integrate film resources which benefits for the audience, the professionals in the film industry and even some other relative industries. The role it plays may not be limited to the film area but influence in the social sphere.

 

References:

Mills, N 2018, ‘MIFF: The top films at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival’, The ABC News: news, viewed 20 August 2018, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-02/best-films-at-miff-2018-melbourne-international-film-festival/10051056

 

Winfrey, G 2016, ‘How Film Festivals Decide Which Movies to Accept’, Indiewire: Film, viewed 20 August 2018, https://www.indiewire.com/2016/06/film-festivals-moma-sundance-tribeca-movies-1201700469/

Experience the ‘liveness’ of the film at MIFF 2018

The 2018 Melbourne international film festival took place recently, and the experience of attending one of the screening films leaves me some special impression.  It is a documentary called ‘Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley’, telling that how the development of mining and pastoral from the government is affecting the environment and the lives of Aborigines and their communities in Kimberley.

 

Different from the normal film screening in cinema, the process of watching this documentary may bring the audience more ‘liveness’. The production team (the producer, the director, and the main character) had a brief introduction of the documentary in advance, and after showing it they did a Q&A with the audience. The documentary itself reveals some issues like the overdevelopment of mining and other natural resources forced the aborigines to leave their community; people there living rely on the agriculture and fishing and passing on from generation to generation are facing the extremely urgent dilemma; drugs and alcohol are affecting the young people in the community but the government barely takes action to deal with it; some cultural traditions are gradually disappearing since it becomes hard to inherit and so forth.

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Albert Wiggan, as the indigenous and environmental activist, is the main character narrating throughout the whole documentary, in the Q&A section, he repeated the theme to the audience. What he emphasized is that, the things happening in the film are not storytelling, they are the current situation, and they are not the things going to happen, they are taking place right now. To make a clearer explanation, he said that they are not rejecting the industrialization process, but feeling concerned about their home, culture, and tradition are being eroded by the excessive industrialization. Finally, Albert appealed that people who have families or friends in Kimberley should keep in touch with them or come to their home from time to time so that people can be closer to aborigines lives and care more about the issues.

 

Although the section of Q&A between the hostess and the production team was not lasting long, it was an opportunity for them to convey their idea further and deeper to the audience face to face. For example, since the documentary was filmed in a former specific period, the director now can update and add more information about the current situation and the progress they made. The ‘liveness’ the audience feeling in this way can also bring them the sense substitution in the documentary. According to Rhyne (2009), the liveness can be witnessed but cannot be reproduced. All the content that the director and the producer talked about and the audiences’ experience of witnessing Albert appeared from the screening to the reality will not be accessible somewhere else.

 

References:

Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF), 2018, Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley, viewed 15 August 2018, http://www.documentaryaustralia.com.au/films/4065/kimberley-project/people

 

Rhyne, R. ed., 2009. The Festival Circuit. St Andrews Film Studies.