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MIFF Guide

July 11, 2008

The Melbourne International Film Festival starts on 21 July and the festival guide was published today.  Back in the days when I was temping, I’d buy a festival pass, take three weeks off work, and see as many films as I could get to.  I didn’t pore over the guide  – I chose films like I choose Melbourne Cup tips.  Names, colours, pedigree.  Getting between venues in those days required planning; the festival used The Astor in St Kilda, as well as city cinemas, so sometimes logistics dictated choice.  I saw some wonderful films, some tedious films, some puzzling films and some quirky films.  I saw films that I’ve since tried to hunt down in archives or online and films that I forgot almost instantly.

In recent years, the festival moved to a CBD base.  Theoretically, today’s festival-goer can see a film at each venue in the space of a day (that is, unless said festival-goer has finally decided that the creaking and the cold at The Capitol outweigh the merits of any film screened there). These are definitely good times for making the most of the Festival Passport.  Unfortunately, though, I now have to fit film viewing around work, so the mini-pass is the best bet.  I’ve usually been online or at the box office as early as possible to get the pass, and have booked up most (if not all) of the ten pass “slots” in the first couple of days of having the guide.  The film choices have been so rich that I’ve added single sessions to the pass in order to take in as much as I can.  Naturally, there have been some misses amongst the hits, and sometimes the final decision on a Saturday-at-one-pm screening has been a matter of compromise: I’ll see this architecture film today if you see the music doco tomorrow. The festival has also given me my only experience of walking out of a film.  Thanks, Tideland.

I’m not sure what I’ll see this year.  A quick scan of the guide has shown that, as in the past, a number of programmed films have already been scheduled for release at independent cinemas.  I always avoid seeing these as it seems like a “waste” of a festival film spot.  Once the festival is over, however, and I’m all filmed out I often miss seeing them during their theatrical run so I might not adopt this selection criteria this year.  I’m not at all interested in the George Romero retrospective, and I can’t understand why THX is being shown, but I do like the idea of including some older films alongside new ones, particularly if it means that younger audiences will be introduced to the work of directors such as John Sayles.

I’d better get my pass…

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