The discussion of film & film festivals’ social responsibility

If we use the public sphere theory to explain the function of the film festival, Film festival should be a long-term and continuous process of social formation and regenerate the public sphere to make a voice for different groups of people.


Due to various political pressure, it is hard to make a discussion about a lot of sensitive social issues during the film festival in China. However, recently, a film called “Dying to Survive” which directed by Wen Muye made it and won the Golden Deer Award for Best Movie in 14th Changchun Film Festival. This film is created based on a real-life story of Lu Yong who suffered from leukemia. In 2004, the legal medicine is too expensive to afford among cancer sufferers in China. Countless people dead since there is not a mature medical insurance system but the legal medicine cannot be afforded by the majority of people. Lu Yong then smuggled relatively cheap cancer medicine from India to help 1,000 leukemia patients, but this kind of medicine didn’t get permission from the Chinese government and was accused as the smuggler. The movie has engendered a heated discussion about Lu Yong’s smuggler action and made a positive impact on the reformation of the health care system in China especially for critical illness. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also cited the movie to call for a price cut down to embody health care in terms of critical illness.

The Golden Deer Award of Changchun Film Festival leaves me a place to rethink the significance and the what really mean by a success of a film and film festival. “Dying to Survive” won seven nominations at 14th Changchun Film Festival, Zheng Xu who act as the lead role in the movie won the Golden Deer Award for Best Actor. As what Zheng Xu’s speech in the film festival, the award encourages him to figure out what is the significance of the best actor and a successful movie. A good actor should devote himself to making more filming that promoting social change and transformation regarding different social issues. The Occurrence of “Dying to Survive” identifies that Chinese film industry begins to more focus on the social issues rather than keen on pursuit commercial profits, and this is all Chinese people would like to expect in the future.

KOFFIA functioned as a medium help to trigger a sense of national identity

When it comes to the question that what is the function of film festivals, the first thing emerged in my mind is to celebrate the success of the film industry. According to our lecture, the film festival has three main characteristics that can’t be ignored: To make contributions in achieving certain goals in the political, social and economic sector; To provide a place for filmmakers to discuss, exchange and boost new thoughts upon various issues; To raise and collect voices for subaltern groups. These narratives were highly convinced After I attended the 9th Korean film festival in Australia.

The first movie I chose to watch in KOFFIA was A Taxi Driver, a great movie which tells a devastated tragic story happened in Gwangju, South Korea 1980. The movie was created based on true historical events which are a period of distressing history. A political movement occurred in Gwangju after the president was assassinated at that time. When the authority was turned over to a high-rank military officer, they began to carry out a series of rules which was brutal. The country becomes a mess, the people’s life was awful and miserable. Any public or student protest even the news report about the event at that time will get suppress, shot and violent responses by the governor. A taxi driver who witnessed this unfair and brutal violence decided to assist a German reporter to cover and record the event and find an opportunity to send it out of the country. The film is touching and thought-provoking. Forty years have passed since the event happened, many people still tore especially when they saw people’s crying and shouting on the screen. The nationality can’t be the dividing line in feel touched by the movie, and this is the charm and function of the film festivals which it should continue to stay on.


As what referred before, the function of the film festival is to make contributions in achieving political, social and economic goals. The art of film and film festivals cannot be separated from its politics. A Taxi Driver was exhibited to show their attitude of facing their history although it is distressing and ruthless. They did not try to hide or avoid mentioning this event but show it globally what they experienced and learned in their history. To display it on a global screen identifies KOFFIA hope to express their national identity and the selfhood under the political press. In my opinion, this highly triggered people’s independent perspective upon the history, rethink and discuss the history from the perspective of humanity will undoubtedly bring about more social issues.

Overall, KOFFIA has successfully engendered the national identity of Korean and trigger a huge discussion of the film and the social issuer behind it which can be regarded as the key factor considered as a successful film festival in my personal perspective.

The power of documentary in MIFF

The significance of a film festival is that it screens movies that not merely for commercial purpose but try to arouse some profound thinking culturally or socially behind the lens, and this is what makes film festival glamourous and unique. After attending the film premiere of Undermined: tales from the Kimberley, I have got more than expected.

Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley is a documentary focus on the real investigation of the world-famous Kimberley development by director Nicholas Wrathall. A large-scale mining and livestock development projects not only threaten the original environment there, but also threaten the sacred connection of more than 200 indigenous communities and their people to the country. The film then start to interview many local residents about their thought of government’s decision. The answers are always no to against changes in their hometown. It is not hard to see from the documentary that the indigenous people’s life in Kimberly is primitive. People who live in Kimberly are away from the bustling city and modern civilization. This perhaps is the reason why they can’t understand government consist to destroy the natural land which mainly aims to provide more resources to people who living in the city. In their perspective, Kimberly is hometown, they will never leave this place and will undoubtedly protect the natural resources forever.

For movies like Undermined: tales from Kimberly, its living space is not as big as a commercial movie in national film industry market, or in another word, it is hard for niche art films or documentaries to survive or make profits in such an era of rapid consumption film market. Therefore, this is what a good film festival should do to help this kind of movies to make a voice, to create an atmosphere to inspire more people pay attention to documentaries on the demand side. Acting as an educational tool, Undermined: tales from Kimberly which aims at attracting an attention of indigenous people’s living dilemma and arousing a discussion about the solutions. It exclusively speaks for a certain group – Australian indigenous people. A good film festival must support this kind of documentary and expand its influences among the people.

In my perspective, the MIFF here acts like a business card with various people from different cultural backgrounds gathered in a same festival. The film festival should be considered as a breakthrough window which screens movies have cultural implications to inspire people’s thinking and discussion. After the screening, my friends all tried to pay attention to Kimberly’s event on social media, and I think this maybe the influences and power which only can made by a film festival through creating a spectacle and paying respect on it.



MIFF information from Melbourne International Film Festival Official Website:

What does MIFF impress me?

This is my first time participating in a film festival. In my conventional perspective, films festival must include awards ceremony or red carpets like what Berlin and Cannes International Film Festival did in every February or May each year. But Melbourne International film festival is different and unique. Unlike the well-known Cannes International Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival and other famous Competitive Feature Film Festivals, the Melbourne International Film Festival is not a competition-oriented film festival, the film festival is more focused on the films itself and the cultural, political and humility implications it conveyed.


Every year, MIFF screens a wide range of films to celebrate the brilliant achievements made by films and filmmakers. The festival features approximately 357 films in 18 days, presenting the latest trends in the Australian and international film industry, including feature films, short films, documentaries, cartoons, experimental films and multimedia films. Different types of films are shown at film festivals lead a cultural collision, bloom, and fusion in Australia. As the Australia’s first international film festival and one of the most influential international film festivals in the Southern Hemisphere, the main purpose of the festival is to firstly understand the basic situation of film industry around the world, to construct a public space and sphere to attract people discuss the implication of the films which undoubtedly promote the close exchanges and cooperation between Australian and foreign filmmakers, and the bloom of the film industry.


As what Iordanva (2009) states in research, a film festival is not only significant in the economic effects it brings but also it brings together outstanding films and filmmakers to communicate and promote the development of film industry. In the 21st century, the film festival is more profound to also speak for politics and culture. Start in 1952, MIFF is always trying to position itself as “an Australian cultural icon which has had an essential role in putting Melbourne on the national and international cultural map”. The movies screened in MIFF is not all new edition, some of them are old movies which are classic and thought-provoking that deserves to appeal people’s attention and discussion. The main difference between the film festival like MIFF and commercial theaters is that films in the festival are not screened as part of a business undertaking, but are considered valuable or worthy to be shown. In other words, festival screenings only serve for the cultural purpose, rather than the economic one.


What MIFF impressed me a lot is the way it chooses to screen films that produced by different countries which serve to the same purpose – to make film industry more valuable in a cultural collision way rather than aims at generating huge profits. Because of that, MIFF has taken a crucial role in shaping Melbourne in a multicultural and creative city.



Iordanova, D., 2009. The filmfestival circuit. Film festival yearbook 1: The festival circuit, pp.23-39.

MIFF information from Melbourne International Film Festival Official Website: