John’s MIFF bloggette – Glitches in the Matrix

A frustrating evening at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Monday as a strange confluence of wrongness occurs.

After all the delays, trailers, introductions, and big-ups to my homies, Dead On: The Life And Cinema Of George A. Romero hit what must be a new MIFF record, starting a full 45 minutes after the advertised time. Festival-goers planning to attend a nine o’clock screening had to choose whether to leave halfway through this film or arrive halfway through the next. It might have helped if they hadn’t decided to include an unlisted short film by Romero‘s daughter, Tina. Her short was hardly the worst thing ever, but it looked like the second-year film it is, and the audience response could best be described as “polite”. Surely if the film is both a) running late and b) longer than you have programmed for, adding short films is not the answer. (The film itself I would describe as “Brighton Grammar girls do Battleship Potemkin as a rock eisteddfod.” Do Americans have rock eisteddfods?). The documentary itself looked good, and I hope one day to see the end of it.

Over at Greater Union, the sensational Not Quite Hollywood was followed by some odd decision making when the microphones for the Q&A refused to work. The woman in charge decided to carry on anyway, getting inaudible questions from the audience so that the people at the front could say things no-one could hear. When the audience tried to tell her the microphones weren’t working she got indignant and shouted “I know that, I just need to get this started”. Um… what? I believe two of the participants were Brian Trenchard-Smith and the film’s director Mark Hartley, but sadly we didn’t get to hear the name of the third. Things seemed to be clearing up as we left, but after such an energising film it seemed a shame to end on a damp squib. Maybe next time they could take five minutes to fix the sound issues, THEN start the Q&A. A crazy idea… but it just might work!

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21 Responses to John’s MIFF bloggette – Glitches in the Matrix

  1. Dan Cardone says:

    No, American’s don’t have rock eisteddfods. I’ve just gotten back from a dance party where there was a ‘floor show’. Leather men posing awkwardly and a hilarious hip hop dance routine. After it was over I turned to my companions and said, “Well, that was a walk on the lame side of the street” and said it was like a rock eisteddfods, and was met with blank looks. But then, no one here understands what the hell I’m saying, anyway…

  2. Narrelle says:

    Oh MIFF people. Customer service. You’re doing it wrong.

  3. Chris says:

    Martin started a good 30 mins after it was meant to. George arrived late for the, what seemed a last minute signing. Great for fans with things to sign, not so great for fans that had something to see afterwards! I managed to get to my next screening albiet a little late and it didn’t seem I missed alot.

  4. Chris says:

    Another thing, kudos for George for getting out there with the fans.

  5. outlandinstitute says:

    The word “Kudos” always makes me think of that alien from the Simpsons.

    Chris: Yes, it was surprising to see George in the audience for the doco about him too – he’s such a real life human being, isn’t he? He seems like a genuinely nice guy, and no-one at MIFF has a bad word to say about him (not always the case with overseas guests).

    It does seem that this year’s MIFF is running later than usual….

    Mr Cardone: Surely this is your big chance – you could introduce the rock eisteddfod to the US! Honestly, what else do teenage girls do if they can’t choreograph a plea for world peace to the strains of Vanessa Amorosi? No wonder they have such high levels of teen pregnancy (probably).

  6. outlandinstitute says:

    Incidentally, when Tina Romero makes her first feature she should definitely quote me on the poster. “Hardly the worst thing ever!” – The Outland Institute. Yep, I can sell them.

    The ultimate selling quote for me is “Gong Li is the most beautiful woman on Earth, says Vincent Canby of the New York Times”. If it’s a good film I always imagine that as a voice-over on the trailer, regardless of what the film’s about or who’s actually in it.

  7. NQH was excellent second time round. A real crowd film. Are you seeing any more Aussie fare? I can’t recommend Son of a Lion enough; as an Aus/Pakistan co-pro of sorts. Just wonderful.

  8. outlandinstitute says:

    Hello Syms! I loved Not Quite Hollywood so much I’ve just spent 60 bucks on Ozploitation movies from the gorgeous Annie at the Umbrella DVD stall in the Festival Club – so look out for reviews of Chain Reaction and Long Weekend coming up soon! Or soonish. Or whenever. I’m not watching so much Oz content this year, and I’ve been writing a long piece inspired by NQH which might explain why. I did see the Tim Minchin doco tonight though, and it was very good.

  9. Erin Stapleton says:

    kudos to george for not smacking that chick in the Q+A session, first question, who started with ‘i’m a film student…’ (subtext, and a moron)

  10. Yeah I recently bought the Stone collector’s edition DVD, and plan to buy Madman’s reissue of The Man from Hong Kong.

    Is Annie gorgeous?

  11. richard says:

    Gee – you guys are tough. WE dont intentionally plan to make things run late you know – there will always be technical hitches particularly in the first few days of the festival and particularly when the response to this years program has been so overwhelming . Hopefully we are running more on time now that the teething problems are over. Got anything positive to say ?

    richard moore

  12. outlandinstitute says:

    Hello Richard! It’s a pleasure to have you here, although I’m a little surprised you sound a bit miffed (excuse the pun). Got anything positive to say? On THIS PAGE ALONE you’ll find:

    “The documentary itself looked good”
    “the sensational Not Quite Hollywood”
    “such an energising film”
    “kudos for George for getting out there with the fans”
    “a genuinely nice guy”
    “NQH was excellent second time round. A real crowd film.”
    “I can’t recommend Son of a Lion enough… Just wonderful.”
    “I loved Not Quite Hollywood so much I’ve just spent 60 bucks on Ozploitation movies from the gorgeous Annie at the Umbrella DVD stall in the Festival Club”
    “I did see the Tim Minchin doco tonight though, and it was very good.”

    That’s on one page alone – elsewhere on the site you’ll find positive reviews of Rock N Roll Nerd, I Think We’re Alone Now and The Bank Job, praise and historical information about The Forum and The Festival Club, recommendations of films to see, an attempt to turn the release of the Festival program into an event as important as Christmas, a reference to the MIFF audience as the nicest of any arts organisation in Melbourne and so much gushing obsessing over George A Romero it’s almost unseemly. And there’s more to come, including a long piece praising the Ozploitation strand. It’s hard to imagine how much more positive The Outland Institute could possibly be!

    The complaints on this page were not only fair, but also things MIFF has in its power to avoid in future. In particular, the Q&A at GU for Not Quite Hollywood was disrespectful to the guests, one of which didn’t even get introduced! If the organiser hadn’t panicked and taken two minutes to fix the sound she would have been able to introduce the guests audibly, rather than in mime. Surely feedback is a good thing, Richard? Don’t we all want MIFF to get better and better every year?

    So please don’t take this in a bad way. We all love you, Richard, and we all love MIFF. Do you feel that, Richard? It’s love. Feel the love. Because it’s for MIFF. And it’s for you.

  13. Chris says:

    Hey Richard

    Would you expect anything less when the slogan or the entire festival is “everyones a critic”!?

    I’m having a great festival this year although I’ve seen way to many docos so besides what I already have locked in I’m trying to just see features from now on. That being said I have 3 docos scheduled for today. Still, the doco Trumbo is my fave of the fest so far.

  14. Anne-Marie says:

    My only complaint is the bean bag that tried to kill me – (or was it just trying to embarrass me?) And the box office lad who didn’t know what the date was, and seemed unable to look at the machine in front of him that holds such obscure information.

  15. Janet says:

    There was also the Morgan Spurlock Q&A that went over by – well, you were there Richard – as I saw you on the steps of the Greater Union with Messrs Spurlock and Rush indulging in a photo opportunity as those of us waiting to get into see ‘Bastardy’ were stamping our feet, not in anger per se but just trying to get the sensation back in them after having waited so long. Not sure a technical hitch can be claimed for that one.

    Actually, I tell a lie, there was a slight touch of annoyance considering the ushers who were supposed to be keeping an eye on the line (as it was split in two so that people could move in and out) completely ignored the people who kept adding themselves to the first part of the line. Those of us outside in the second bit could see them clearly but I think the ushers were too interested in the photo op.

    And there is no excuse for allowing a Q&A session to go massively over time. There is bound to be someone in the audience with a watch.

    Like the rest of the commentators here I have to agree that the films and docos I’ve seen so far have been excellent. Revisiting ‘The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith’ and ‘Ashes of Time’ has been great. BUT no festival is perfect and as our host suggests feedback is a good thing.

    Might I suggest you reread this blog once the festival is over and you’ve had a couple of nights of really good sleep. You may see the entries in a different light.

  16. bigboy says:

    Bit of a contradiction here. You complain about sessions starting late, and then you have the nerve to berate some poor festival staffer/ volunteer for not taking five minutes to fix a sound problem which might have taken a great deal more than 5 mins to fix (who knows? I certainly don’t and neither do you). This would have delayed the next session – and possibly sessions after that – by at least five minutes. At whihc poitn you would have lobbed more invective at the festival for running late.

    Think before you spit out the sputum. Or perhaps you want a film festival in which nothing ever goes wrong. Try to going to a few outside of Melbourne and wake up.

  17. outlandinstitute says:

    Hi Lynden! Thank you for taking the time to drop in. If you go back and re-read you’ll see my complaint was the session starting a whopping 45 minutes late, due to factors well in the festival’s control. And the sound problem was resolved within 5 minutes, as the mics were working by the time we left, but it meant one of the guests was not introduced. So not mutually exclusive ideas. Also, any Q&A should already be factored into the time allowed anyway, they’re not the sort of thing a festival spontaneously holds.

    I’m hardly “spitting out the sputum”. I think any audience member who paid for Dead On would have the right to a refund as it was not possible for them to see more than half the movie if they had another session booked for the evening.

    As far as other festivals go, I’ve attended at least three dozen in cities across four countries, as audience member, worker or guest. I fully appreciate that won’t be as many as yourself, but it means I have seen many different models and I personally hadn’t come across a film starting that late before. I also think my post was remarkably sedate and reasonable – it’s also curious that this post is getting all the attention when all the praise I’ve been giving the festival (see above) has gone unremarked…

  18. Tim says:

    Hey “bigboy”, chill a little. There are loads of posts on this blog (and other blogs about film festivals) which describe the good and bad things that happen at such events, ie the reality of festival-going. Glitches and mishaps are part of the picture, and as worthy of being described as seamless triumphs.

    Attacking people anonymously for commenting reasonably on such things is akin to attacking freedom of speech. Next you’ll shout at people who dare to say they didn’t enjoy a film as much as they’d expected. How about balancing the books and posting something positive on one of the other MIFF-related pages?

  19. Janet says:

    I’m with Tim on the notion of anonymous attacks. Mr Moore, as thin skinned as he appeared to be, at least had the balls to give his real name.

    And, no offence, but if you wish your vitriol to be taken seriously why the soubriquet ‘bigboy’? Instant credibility loss there bigboy.

  20. Chris says:

    Hey, it just wouldn’t be the internet without poorly thought out anonymous postings full of impotent rage :)

  21. outlandinstitute says:

    Fair point, Chris.

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