Melbourne International Film Festival 2011: Program Launch

5 Jul

Waiting for MIFF (Film: Little Furniture)

The 5pm launch of the Melbourne International Film Festival launch was held at the Toff in Town today. We managed to sneak past the 3 bug-eyed publicists (is there any other kind) on the door and straight into the packed room. If they had of stopped us, we wouldn’t have had a problem (because we were totally invited) but I think at that stage they had relinquished to the pushy molasses of black that knew they should be there. Because they were totally invited.

Robert Doyle and Geoffrey Rush both made excellent speeches, highlighting the value of festivals such as this to the cultural life of Melbourne and individual development of its artistic souls. Geoffrey Rush made the telling observation that 3 of his top 10 films of all time, he saw at his first MIFF, in 1972 for those who are counting, and all 10 were seen at festivals. An experience that rung a bell with this writer: Symbol, Funky Forest and Bibliotheque Pascal being 3 of my favourites. All seen at film festivals. None of which were released in the theatres.

Geoffrey is celebrating his 60th birthday this year, as is MIFF. To celebrate the occassion a many tiered cake was rolled out and the media and industry crowd sung happy birthday – in the typically cool way you’d expect from a Melbourne artistic crowd. Still it was nice. Robert Doyle’s preceeding speech highlighted his love for the festival, and misperception of Melbourne as sports mad town, where our top 2 festivals are the Melbourne International Film Festival and the event we we’re all gathered there to enjoy the bar tab of.

MIFF's 2011 Artistic Director, Michelle Carey.

Richard Moore steps aside as festival director this year, making way for long time programmer, and dorkily beautiful, Michelle Carey. Its first female director we wonder (too lazy too Google). Michelle is perhaps known for her taste for films exploring whimsical and explosive nature of youth, such as in her spirited advocation of UNMADE BEDS a few years back (which we did and did not enjoy). We can probably expect a different direction from MIFF in the coming years, though Richard Moore’s solid stewardship will be a hard act to follow. Regardless, it’s likely to continue to offer an irresitable offering of strange, mundane, vibrant, sanguine, controversial, tradtional, factual, fictional films as it does every year. Perhaps a blessing or a curse, MIFF comes late in the film festival cycle, off the back of Sundance, Sydney, Cannes, Toronto -some of the less edible pieces of celluloid have been weeded out by the time late July rolls around.

Michelle Carey’s top 5: Love, Play (Sweden), Project Nim, Jess + Moss and one other that escapes our brain.

Here’s what to expect at MIFF this year:

  •  TELESCOPE: 12 daring films from Europe, culminating in a European Union award of some sort
  • MADE FOR TV: Michelle Carey argued the dilineation between film (good) and TV (bad) had broken down over the last few years on the back of quality long-form narrative from HBO, AMC etc. This new section will explore this and includes the first two episodes from Christ Tsiolkas’ TV adaptation of his novel THE SLAP – cast and crew will be present. The point is valid, yet to be convinced by the need for this new element. Isnt TV to be enjoyed at home? You don’t watch THE WIRE at the cinema. Too many Pee breaks.
  • A number of discussion forums. Some containing Jennifer Byrne. Others containing awkward silences.
  • OUR SPACE is back. Exploring architecture and urban space on film.
  • To look back at the 60 years of MIFF: 2 programs of vintage shorts have been curated, digging out the vaults of ACMI, NFSA and other film archives no doubt. Keep an eye out for SUNDAY IN MELBOURNE, a fascinating early portrait of our little town. There is also a retrospective of a number of MIFF films from the first ever Film Festival back in ’52. On top of this ACMI is hosting an exhibition exploring the festival decade by decade, including vintage posters of the festivals dating back 60 years. Finally, there is a commemorative book for those who can’t wait for the 70th MIFF celebrations.
  • SPOTLIGHT: 6 international films looking at crime on film.
  • NETWORK: films exploring technology and online culture.
  • THIS SPORTING LIFE: 5 films exploring the drive and psychosis of winning. Not just for sports fans.
  • Local premieres include: I AM 11, FALLING FOR SAHARA, X and a new documentary from Australia’s number 1 documentary director, Tom Bradbury, documetanting Paul Cox’s recent troubles. There is also a doco about the recent Tote kerfuffle, and a portrait of deceased Birthday Party member Roland S Howard.
  • David Stratton, Mark Spratt and others will be heading up a lively and tasty discussion on Australia’s censorship culture. Hopefully they’ll put the boot in where necessary.
  • 3 Masterclasses: Compostion, Documentary, and editing. $12 – $15
  • Many TALKING PICTURES events – free @ the forum
  • The 50th MIFF short film awards – Bob Connolly among the judges.

The speeches ended with some trailers of LIFE IN A DAY, EYE OF THE STORM and others. Unfortuntately the Toff was a hopeless venue for this – a third could see the rest of us had to imagine what delights lay on the other side of the collected media scrums head.

Still, we’re excited.

4 Responses to “Melbourne International Film Festival 2011: Program Launch”

  1. Debbie July 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Yes, you should have googled before punting that Michelle is the first female director of MIFF. There have been others, including Sandra “45k” Sdraulig.

    • Editor July 5, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

      ’twas a tentative punt!

  2. deborah July 5, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    what is the opening night film?

    • Editor July 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

      ‘The Fairy’ – a Belgian film directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy.

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