Sigh. Done for another year and it’s taken me two weeks to recover. My strategy of booking 75 or so films so that I could trim out a few kind of worked. I ended up seeing 61 films over the 16 days but that was perhaps just a few too many. It was so hard to not see a film – what if it was the film of the festival! – and there were a few that I was so tired in, my eyes may have closed once or twice. Next year I think I’ll make sure I have better breaks between films and perhaps not keep chasing that elusive film that blows me away. Yeah, right.
The picture above is the flat I lived in for the duration. Great location – Flinders Lane just near Degraves St – so I could walk to each venue (or catch a free tram if I was in a hurry) and pop back between sessions to nap, blog and eat. It was the darkest flat I’ve ever experienced, I needed electric lights on during the day, but this didn’t seem to matter so much when I was usually in a darkened cinema during daylight hours.
The venues this year were the same with, the addition of a gallery space in Collins St for the Virtual Reality sessions and no sessions at the Treasury Theatre. The Forum is still my favourite (no seat is a bad seat and full of gothic joy) with ACMI second choice (for location and seat comfort) and then Hoyts (great seats but fighting the crowds of Melbourne Central is soul destroying). I feel a little kinder toward The Comedy Theatre as I discovered a sensational women’s bathroom upstairs that has a zillion toilets and an atmosphere of old world grandeur. The cinema seats are still uncomfortable though and there’s no leg room. I avoided sessions there where I could.
I had some fun food adventures and can recommend Laneway Greens in Flinders Lane for a delicious salad. I had the miso-glazed salmon that comes with a little bowl of miso soup (above). Another great find was Pastuso, a Peruvian restaurant, again off Flinders Lane. I have a new love for pisco sours – a frothy margarita – and can recommend the corvina (smoked black kingfish ceviche), the pastel de choclo (a corncake with mushrooms and quinoa) and the cassava chips.
I’ve mentioned Sam Sam Korean Chicken and Beer on Swanston St before, I’m still thinking about the kimchi fries. On my last day, I visited Rice Paper, a Vietnamese street food restaurant in Swanston St and loved the sugar cane juice on ice and the betel leaf beef and the chargrilled chicken on rice.
There is no shortage of good coffee in Melbourne. Across the laneway from me was Dukes Coffee Roasters which always had a line out the door but worth the wait if you’re not in a hurry. My back up just a few doors down was Journal Cafe, good for a cheapish breakfast as well, and the Sensory Lab at David Jones where the coffee was solid and I got to watch all the ladies who shop.
One morning I walked into Runya’s Rooms in a Collins St arcade as I was a little desperado for caffeine and realised from the astonished faces of the black aproned staff that take ways are not their bread and butter, so to speak. It was full of very well dressed ladies having high tea with fluorescent macaroons and petit fours and I felt like an interloper. Nice coffee though.
My cheap breakfast find was at In a Rush Espresso in Federation Square. Desperate one morning for coffee and a quick bite before an 11am Forum film, I ordered a coffee and a toasted scrambled egg and spinach muffin, both together cost less that $6.50 and was ready in five minutes.
Stay tuned for my wrap up of my favourite films of the festival.