John’s MIFF blog: No Place (part 2)

August 12, 2008

Yesterday I presented my Melbourne International Film Festival wrap-up, and also gave room for some our regular Institutees to speak. Last up is the glorious Syms Covington (who normally lives here). He rants exclusively for The Outland Institute.

This year’s MIFF was an interesting one for me. It was the first time I had attended the fest in three years, having been stuck in Sydney town for that period, and also because I could directly contrast it with my experiences at SIFF about a month earlier. The two festivals are vastly different, and I have Richard Moore to thank for that. The Sydney Film Fest is strutting off in its own direction with its big blue prize, eyes firmly on everything but Australian film, while MIFF had the tenacity to not only program some of the best Aussie arthouse films around (as well as new genre surprises like The Horseman and Acolytes) but to devote a whole strand to the ‘drunken uncles’ of the Australian film industry – the ones the more ‘respectable’ contingent of the industry has been actively ignoring at the parties for years – the filmmakers who made what is currently being referred to by the trendy Tarantino-coined moniker of “Ozploitation”.

Indeed the Ozploitation bent of this year’s MIFF was the thing that pushed me over the edge to travel south. I’d had the opportunity to see Not Quite Hollywood previously at a closed screening, and fallen in lust with it. I was terribly excited by the possibility of attending opening night just to experience the film again in a room filled with not only the genre benders profiled in the film, but the very film industry snobs that had blacklisted many of these films originally. For me, the film and opening night shenanigans were well worth the trip down. The only thing that would have made it better was if there had been screens either side of the stage filming “reaction shots” – like at the Oscars – of the old snobs shuddering in their hush puppies and sensibly ironed fawn slacks. I am seeing it again with a crowd of industry folk at the AFI Awards Screenings night in Sydney, so hopefully someone will have acted on this idea by then.

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John’s MIFF blog: There’s No Place Like Home

August 11, 2008

And so another year’s Melbourne International Film Festival draws to a close. The rubbish is strewn across the turf, the drunken young women have collapsed on the trams, and the vomit is being hosed down from the VIP tent – no, wait. That’s the Melbourne Cup. Let’s start again.

Ah, MIFF. You come, toy with our affections, then leave in the night. Yet every year we come back. You mock us, yet we want you so. You temptress. You seductress. Both dominatrix and mother to us all.

Like all art, film is subjective. Our response to film is not only based our our preferences and tastes but can be altered by our surroundings – would I have enjoyed Let The Right One In more if the gentleman next to me hadn’t spent the whole film munching through a box of popcorn larger than his head? Probably. Would I have enjoyed My Winnipeg less if I hadn’t been so exhausted from chasing horses all day that I was more than willing to fall under it’s hypnotic spell, like the sleep-walking residents Guy Madden describes? Maybe. Am I now aware that even the most deserved criticism of the festival is likely to bring on the fury of The League Of Festival Directors, like a Marketing Team descending in the night? Oh yeah.

So here is my completely subjective take on the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival (after all, if you didn’t want my opinion you wouldn’t be here, would you?)

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