Reflecting on MIFF 2017


The member queue at the Forum


Sigh. It’s over for another year. This has been my best Melbourne International Film Festival so far with a wonderful selection of films. I’m unsure whether it is MIFF that chose well or me – or it could just be luck.


This year I saw 50 films over 17 days, which is around 3-4 films a day. Here are some statistics from the ones I saw:

  • Country of origin: Australia (11), France (6), UK (5), USA (5), Iran (3), Germany (2), Poland (2), Sweden (2), Chile (2) and one each from Romania, Georgia, Czech Republic, Russia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, China, Mexico and New Zealand.
  • Of the 50, four were documentaries, seven were older films screened as part of a retrospective and two were animations. Fourteen were directed or co-directed by women.
  • Star ratings: 5 stars (4), 4.5 stars (10), 4 stars (11), 3.5 stars (14), 3 stars (6), 2.5 stars (3) and 1 star (1).

For those who notice these kind of things, yes there was one film that I didn’t review. Called Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog, I stayed for around half an hour and then ditched it, not because it was terrible – it was funny in a surreal German kind of way – but because I was hungry and I wanted to get a good seat at the next screening. I didn’t feel like I’d given it enough of a chance to write a review.

As Nietzsche said, “We praise or blame according to whether the one or the other offers a greater opportunity for our power of judgement to shine out.” Obviously this one provided insufficient opportunity for either.


Discovering an online community

Sitting in my first film, I decided to set up a Fillums twitter account, @FillumsFillums. On the screen between each session, MIFF shows a selection of social media posts with the hashtag #MIFF2017 or @MIFFofficial and I thought it would be cool to see my own tweets up there.

Well I certainly did with about ten or so of my tweets making the big screen. It was gratifying to feel part of a larger conversation but what was most rewarding was finding an online community of people just like me. Some I recognised at screenings because of their profile pictures but most were unknown to me in any world other than a virtual one.

There were threads about the number of movies with goats in them, #GoatWatch, advice as to which movies to ditch and which to add, sympathy for gripes about queues and Comedy Theatre seating and poor cinema etiquette as well as lovely personal responses from film makers. I now have other film lovers to follow and who follow me and I feel less solitary in my odd love for films.


Queue view of ACMI as I waited outside the Forum Theatre.


I renewed my love of this idiosyncratic city. True to form, the day might dawn sunny and blue skied and, waiting outside the venue with a hot coffee and the air crisp and clear, I felt alert and invigorated. Two hours later, I might emerge to a freezing wind and pouring rain, dodging puddles and hurrying past lost and broken umbrellas on my way to the next film.

I contemplated a rain coat or an umbrella but, in reality, you are never far from the indoors in the city. I worked out the shortest and driest routes from venue to venue and was grateful again and again for my MIFF membership which usually meant priority queuing indoors.

I’ve thought of going to other international film festivals – Sundance maybe or Toronto – but it’s hard to beat Melbourne for friendliness, cost and choice.

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