Tag Archives: acmi

Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) 2015

20 Jun

miaf 2015

So this may be the coldest couple of weeks of the year for us Melbournians, but one place you are guaranteed to be kept warm is within the weather-proof walls of the cosy ACMI cinemas. While you snuggle up in these seats I recommend keeping yours eyes open because then you will be blessed with this year’s MIAF which runs from June 21-28.

And it is a rather special one this year because I was lucky enough to join the big leagues with an early-bird trial screening of some sample films of the festival before the actual festival begins. Turns out being an obsessive volunteer has its perks. I can personally confirm, before the festival even starts, that it is going to be a memorable occasion for any one who listens to that playful voice in their head that says “go along, what have you got to lose?”

There are a couple of aspects separating this festival from the last few festivals. This year MIAF is screening quite a few sessions in ACMI’s Studio 1 which is a gorgeously informal yet intimate 70-seater space for some of the less popular, less majority-friendly showcases. More importantly this year commemorates the centenary of Australian animation. For those who love animation, for those who love film, and for those who love this amazing country should get along and support this momentous occasion with 6 dedicated sessions highlighting Australia’s history with the art form.

MIAF has reverted back to the 8-day-long festival but has not skipped on the content. Like all years there are the new films making up the competition sessions and all the festival favourites like Late Night Bizarre and the Kids Program; and the curated sessions with special focuses on a country, an animation technique, an animation college, or a particular filmmaker/production company.

This year’s new films submissions came to around the 3500 mark from every corner of the globe. With an International Competition session playing every day (except Monday 22) be sure to catch up with the most recent additions to this ever-changing world of artistic, auteurist animation. The curated sessions this year are intriguing to say the least. The main nation focus is on Slovakia. Personally I have never seen any Slovakian films, and I’m sure many of us in Melbourne can say the same, but after these two sessions; one on historic films and one on new films; we will instantly become more cultured and having something unique to talk about while hosting our next dinner party. My most anticipated curated session is on Japan’s Tama University. 2013 blew my mind with just how amazing auteurist animation in Japan really is with their session on Tokyo University of Arts. That’s right, Japan is not simply a hub for anime, they have a hell of a lot more to offer. Tama University specifically has already made its stamp on the world animation circuit by taking out the Ottawa International Animation Festival’s prize for the best student showcase on its first attempt. Furthermore there is a showcase on Ireland’s Brown Bag Films (responsible for recent Academy Award nominee The Secret of Kells), as well as several animation documentaries and Latvian-American, Signe Baumane’s independent hand-made feature film Rocks In My Pockets. Of course there is much more MIAF has to offer, the best way to see what’s on is to check the website here.


Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) 2014

20 Jun

Ahoy film fans! It’s that time of year again to celebrate the eclectic art form of animation. For the next 10 days animation will be filling ACMI cinemas in Melbourne’s Federation Square; and I’m talking REAL animation. The kind of animation you have not seen but absolutely should. This is a unique film festival in the way that the screening session are made up of a compilation of around 10-18 short films with a particular topic or theme. These topics can range from the competition films (which are in the running for the best of the festival), to national focuses (this year being France and South America), to studio focuses (this year being Canada’s Quickdraw Animation Society and France’s Sacrebleu Productions), to technique focuses, to a special screening for children (which I made an effort to see every year, being the big kid that I am).

Last night I attended the Opening Night gala screening, with complimentary sparkling wine. I felt so fancy. The purpose of the Opening Night is to get a taste of what the festival will be serving. The opening film was the incredibly beautiful Sonata directed by one of the festival’s special guests, Nadia Micault from France. Her film is a modern spin of the rotoscoping technique of animating popularised by Disney’s feature films. We then saw a couple of Australian films from the competition programme which are always so special to watch because contrary to what many may think, Australian animation is quite impressive and well worth a watch. Following these were some more foreign films, a film from the kid’s programme, the token abstract film, and some humorous CGI.

MIAF really is something special. It is supposedly the third largest animation festival in the world. Why not help it reach that number 1 spot? If it’s not as great as I’m making it sound, feel free to hurl abuse at me.

Check out the website for more info.

MIAF Day 2 – International Program #1; Focus on Belgium #1

22 Jun

REMINDER: The Australian Showcase is Saturday the 23rd at 4.00pm. Tickets will most likely sell out so make sure you get your ticket secured.

International Program #1

The first twelve assorted films in the running for Best of the Festival. Mostly consisting of European and Asian films, the first international program gave us viewers a good taste of what is to be expected from the films up for the grand prize. What is that expectation? Complete and utter randomness. CGI, scratch, cel, cut-out, stop-motion; it was all there!

Here are my top picks for this screening:

About Killing the Pig/ Dell’ammazare Il Maiale (Simone Massi, 2011) – Very dark charcoal-looking animation with little colour but plenty of style.

My… My (Lei Lei, 2011) Heavily inspired by video games, a man chases a moose-man through a glitch-ridden world.

Auntie Nettle (Svetlana Zueva, 2011) Russian cut-out animation with almost an expressionist look about it. A haunting little film; like the nightmare of The Secret Garden, complete with piercing string music and grotesque visuals. Arguably the best film of the session.

How to Eat Your Apple (Erick Oh, 2011) – Exactly as it sounds, but with a bizarre, humorous twist.

Focus on Belgium #1

Before this session I didn’t even know Belgian animation existed. I’m sure glad I gave it a go. The session consisted of a fine mixture of historic and contemporary Belgian animation. From this collection of films there seems to be a pattern or theme with Belgian animation – as cheerful as a film may seem, it will inevitably have a negative conclusion.

Un Voyage Imprevu (Albert Fromenteau, 1944) – Proof that Disney set the blueprints of animation to the entire world, this film from the 40s resembles the forest setting and singing animals of the American animation powerhouse. The key difference is this film is a little crazier than Disney and didn’t have much of a story to go with it.

Goldframe (Raoul Servais, 1969) – Hilarious tongue-in-cheek film about a filmmaker, Mr. Golframe, who must be the first to produce a film in 270mm. He attempts this by dancing off against his silhouette.

To Speak Or Not To Speak  (Raoul Servais, 1970) – What begins as a humorous piece of social commentary mohps into a straight-faced and blatantly political piece of propaganda.

Compartments Or “I Am Not A Monster” (Hannah Letaif, 2011) – Totally insane animation that grotesquely exaggerates everyday tasks. Will be repeated at the Late Night Bizarre session.

Melbourne Cinematheque: Samurai, Assassins, Rebels and Double Suicides: Masahiro Shinoda in the 1960s

17 Aug



After giving up the Wednesday night cinema at ACMI to the Melbourne International Film Festival Melbourne Cinematheque is back and bringing with it another three-week retrospective of a cinematic master. This time it is the films of the 1960s by Japanese director Masahiro Shinoda who is cited as one of the key figures in Japans New Wave. Drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese folk-law Shinoda combines this with Japans modern struggles- particularly in the aftermath of World War II- infusing the two to create timeless tales.

One such tale is that of Hachiro Kiyokawa in The Assassination (1964). Kiyokawa is a master-less samurai in 19th Century Japan who has been employed by the Tokugawa government to stop rebels from restoring the deposed Emperor. Playing both sides to further his own ends, Kiyokawa is the epitome of the rise of the dishonourable samurai of modern times. The Assassination showcases Shinoda’s continuously developing style; both thematically with the pessimism of lost traditions in a modern world, as well as visually with the film being shot in an aesthetically stark black and white.

To follow on is Youth In Fury (1960), the film credited as Shinoda’s break-out into Japanese New Wave cinema and with a score by the critically-acclaimed Toru Takemitsu. Focusing on the rebellion of modern youth, Youth In Fury presents Takuya Shimojo; a student who has become bored with the monotony of his fellow students’ seemingly ineffectual political protests and whose thoughts become darker and darker.

Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) – Be There!

21 Jun

By Michael De Martino

From June 19-26 the Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) will be running at ACMI in Federation Square. Over 400 films will be screened at this ever growing animation event. Come and witness animation from all over the world and experience an array of visual and aural styles you never thought possible.

MIAF is my number 1 pick of all the film festivals available to us Victorians. It is easily accessible, tickets are very reasonable (especially the season pass), you are able to meet the filmmakers, and it focuses purely on hand-made cinema: animation, where the possibilities are limitless. There is so much variety that everyone will be able to appreciate certain aspects of it.

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the Gala Opening screening where we were given a taste of what to expect from the collection of themed sessions. These films ranged from the themed nation – Poland, other international films, some classic UPA films, films from the UK’s Royal College of the Arts, some cut-out films as a part of the themed style, and films from our own back door. If I could judge the rest of this metaphoric book by the cover I witnessed last night, then I’d be saying this is gonna be one damn good book.

With an eclectic assortment of screenings to attend, the one I am most anticipating is the Australia Showcase which will be screened at 4:15pm on Saturday the 25th. Last year’s Australian Showcase blew me away. I was truly astounded at this nation’s ability to create magnificent animation. If you have ever doubted Australia’s artistic abilities, prepare to have your faith regained because animation is where so much of Australia’s talent has been hiding, and I believe it is damn well time that more people realised this. At the end of the Australian session there is a meet & greet where the audience is introduced to the filmmakers. I’ve already got my spot booked!

If you get the chance at all this week you absolutely must make an effort to see at least one screening of this festival. It is one of the only festivals dedicated to animation in the country. You have my word that it will be a memorable experience. These Australian animators need your support and this is the way to show it.

For more information head to the MIAF official website or the ACMI website:



Melbourne Cinematheque: The Garden of Forking Paths: The films of Alain Resnais

26 Apr

We head back to Europe at this week’s cinematheque with Alain Resnais being the focus for the next three weeks. The left-bank French director has been influential since the 1950s, focusing first on short films and documentaries, and later on feature films. Cinematheque has chosen to highlight the first twenty-five years of Resnais’s career with the first screening including Hiroshima Mon Amour, Nuit et Brouillard and La Guerre est Finie. Continue reading

Film Review: Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York

15 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

There has got to be something more to the world of high fashion than what is presented in Robert Leacock’s superficial documentary Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York or else everyone involved lead incredibly empty lives. Never exploring the myriad of issues that lurk beneath the surface of the industry, Leacock’s 1996 film is pointless and as vapid as its central subject.

Leacock follows Christy Turlington through the spring fashion shows in Milan, Paris and New York over a period of three weeks. Exploring the relationship between model and designer, the documentary looks at the shows of Versace, Armani, Galliano, Gaultier, Langerfield and Mizrahi and how models like Moss, Campbell and Bruni work under pressure.

If the director believed he chose an intelligent supermodel to be the focus of this documentary, then one must question his sanity. Christy Turlington is not a character capable of leading a film and her stunning beauty is quickly forgotten after a barrage of vacuous and yawn-inducing moments. It is distracting that everyone else featured is more interesting than the protagonist. The then up-and-coming Kate Moss or sardonic Carla Bruni would have been a much better subject – they both understand their place in the world.

Leacock’s uncertain camerawork and disjointed alternation between black and white and colour footage add to the frustration. His timid direction is minutely saved by his employment of Malcolm McLaren to score the soundtrack but this is momentary salvation from a 95-minute documentary that is half an hour too long.

It is ironic that designer Isaac Mizrahi is featured in Catwalk; he was the focus of Unzipped, a far superior documentary released a year before in 1995. Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York is not the hard-hitting expose for fashion enthusiasts but proof that watching even the most beautiful women can become boring.

Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York is playing at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on Thursday 17 March 2:30pm.

Picture Me: A Model’s Diary

11 Mar

By Jess Lomas

In a society where fashion reins supreme, where models earn the big bucks for wearing the small sizes, and where negative body image is an issue that will seemingly never be resolved, the prospect of an insiders look at the world of modelling is enticing.

Former teen model Sarah Ziff sets out with her boyfriend, a documentary film maker, to take us into the unseen world of modelling; the gruelling schedules, sexual advances, bitchiness, constant pressure on body size and clear skin. What her boyfriend doesn’t film Sarah herself captures on a pint-sized camera that she takes with her on the road and backstage at some of the biggest fashion shows on the global tour.

Using a combination of diary style entries, as well as interviews with other models – Sarah’s friends, and catwalk footage – Picture Me at first appears to be an engaging expose of the truth behind the glamour. Where the documentary falters, and begins to lose its audience, is when it fails to deliver its promise – we don’t see a side of modelling we haven’t seen before, and this “inner world of modelling” the film promotes isn’t anything you can’t see in many films that have come before it.

If the fashion world intrigues you, Picture Me is worth your time. The backstage footage alone will make many an enthusiast long for the opportunity to rub shoulders with such illustrious designers and such stunning beauties. If, however, you’re wanting to see an in-depth exploration of the lifestyle and moral and emotional costs of being a high fashion model, avoid disappointment and avoid this film.

The issue of the age a female model should begin is handled quite masterfully as the “older” models (being in their early twenties) discuss the impact on their careers as twelve-year-old girls snap at their heels.

While sexual advances and favours are discussed in the film, and one model even manages to muster a few tears, the intimate filmmaking style doesn’t allow for such a serious, and interesting, topic to be further investigated. So too is the case for the overall affect modelling has on these women, we are instead given a message that the money is great but the work is hard and ultimately once you hit a certain age you’re yesterday’s news.

Picture Me: A Model’s Diary is playing at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (acmi) on Sunday 13 March 5.30pm and Tuesday 15 March 2.30pm.

Tim Burton: The Exhibition (Australian Centre for the Moving Image)

23 Jun

Man et Art

Today saw the unveiling of the latest in the Melbourne Winter Masterpiece series: TIM BURTON THE EXHIBITION at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and I was lucky enough to be there. The exhibit is made up of over 700 pieces from throughout Burton’s lengthy career, sourced from various private galleries, studio archives and even Burton’s own home. It truly is an intimate look into the mind of a man with a very specific and recognisable artistic vision.

The Batmobile sits in the acmi foyer, guarding the entrance to Gallery 1 (where the exhibit is displayed). It’s appearance is shiny, sleek and polished; three words I wouldn’t use to describe any of the works of art deep within the gallery itself. After walking through the entrance, (a large ghoulish mouth,) a bright red glow lights the stairwell and gives the impression we’re descending into the depths of something sinister. At the bottom, a podium had been erected, presumably for the purposes of the unveiling. It was surrounded by items from one of Burton’s most popular films, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, including the character’s Gothic outfit, a topiary stag, and one of the actual ‘scissorhands’. It was here that the likes of ACMI Director Tony Sweeney and Museum of Modern Art’s Ron Magliozzi introduced the exhibit and highlighted some of the statistics behind both Burton’s films (ALICE IN WONDERLAND is now the fifth highest grossing film of all time!) and the exhibit’s original run at MoMA in New York (it’s the third most attended retrospective behind only Picasso and Matisse!).

Continue reading

Event: Fan Boys Q & A: 5th of June

2 Jun

While we didn’t give this film the most favourable review here at AFR, this recent press release from ACMI caught our attention.

Attention Fanboys and Fangirls:

The first 20 individuals to come in Star Wars costume to the 9.00pm session on opening night, Friday 5 June, will get free admission for themselves into that session. 

The first 5 individuals to come in Star Wars costume to the 7.15pm session on opening night, Friday 5 June, will receive a limited edition Fanboys poster.

Opening night will also feature some of your favourite Star Wars characters ready to pose for photos with you. Arrive 30 minutes before the 7.15pm or 9pm sessions on Friday 5 June to have your photo taken with Darth Vader or a Storm Trooper, courtesy of Melbourne’s The 501st Collective. BYO camera


Sounds fun Non?