A love letter to the Melbourne International Film Festival


I love you MIFF. You have just given me a most memorable two weeks. With you I travelled the world, learned about love and sorrow, grieved for lost futures and saw the shifting diaspora of people torn away from their homes.

We became great friends, you and I. We hung out every day and I saw you at your best and at your worst. Please understand that what I am about to say in no way undermines this new and sparkling friendship, it will just make our love all the stronger.

Your best attributes:

  1. Your volunteers. Every single one of them greeted me with a smile, no matter what time of day or how cranky the queue was. They were always polite, even when wrestling a spare seat in a sold out session from someone very fond of their coat and bags.
  2. Your choice of films. Okay, I picked some duds. It’s so hard to get a good sense of a film from a short synopsis but of the 46 sessions I attended, I rated 29 of them 3.5 stars or more. That’s 63%. The films I saw changed my view of the world, made me cry and laugh and love others just a little bit more.
  3. Member priority queuing. The best thing ever. It took all the stress out of finding a seat as I could breeze in, claim my favourite seat and then nip out to the loo or to grab a snack. The extra time in the cinema also meant opportunities to strike up conversations with fellow tragics and seek recommendations on what to see.
  4. The MIFF app. It didn’t always work perfectly but I was very happy to have no printed tickets to carry around and scrabble for in my bag. I liked being able to add and exchange films on the fly and to be able to use the wishlist to help plan my schedule.
  5. Melbourne. The hike from one venue to another was made worthwhile by the many and varied eateries along the way. Bahn mi, dumplings, steamed buns, fruit tea, salads, yoghurt, smoothies, hot chips, Korean BBQ, sashimi and more and more and more. I love you Melbourne. Okay, so you are not personally responsible for this but you could have hosted MIFF in Craigieburn so thanks for choosing the CBD.

What I think you could work on:

  1. The Comedy Theatre. The worst venue ever. Old and uncomfortable seats and absolutely no legroom so everyone in your row has to climb over you several times. Please open the balcony at every session to ease the congestion or pick another venue. The Treasury Theatre wasn’t great either as the lack of tiering meant weaving your head from side to side to read subtitles but at least the seats were comfortable.
  2. The Festival Lounge opening hours. What was going on this year MIFF? During the week it didn’t open until 4pm and then some nights it closed early. Keep it open from 11am until midnight for the duration, it’s the best place to go to talk about the film you just saw or wait for your next session, particularly if you’re a chick out in the big, bad city all alone.
  3. Two day film booking lead time for members. Two days sounds like a lot but it took me three days just to work my way through the program and put together my short list. And by then the one film I was most looking forward to seeing was sold out. What’s the harm in giving us a bit of extra time?
  4. Empty Premium Member seats at sold out sessions. I was tempted by a premium ticket for a nanosecond. I liked the thought of not having to plan what films I would see each day, just rock up and get the best seat. But there was something immoral about sitting in a packed cinema with people outside queuing for standby tickets and seeing those empty seats. Surely premium members can indicate if they are attending a session in the half hour beforehand? This would allow the premium seats to be reallocated to the standby queue without those people missing the first half hour.
  5. Having to show your member card. Okay, I wasn’t asked for this often but enough to be annoyed by it. I don’t mind having to prove that I’m a member but surely you can have a different barcode for member tickets so this can be picked up by the scanner? Alright, I admit this is a trivial gripe. It’s not a deal breaker.
  6. An online MIFF community. Where were you hiding the many people who would have been chatting and blogging and reviewing all of the films? Yes there was the hashtag if you wanted a 140 character smart arse Twitter comment and you did scroll these in the Forum foyer. Yes there was your Critics Campus but there were only a handful of films reviewed. I wanted to read what people thought, find kindred spirits, share the ins and outs and ups and downs of my MIFF experience, be inspired to see films I hadn’t heard of. How about a forum on your website?

Thanks for the memories MIFF. Keep in touch and I’ll see you next year.

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