MIFF 2011: The Launch Report
The countdown has begun. While the MIFF Members launch at the 'lovely' Greater Union cinemas on Tuesday night was a rather perfunctory affair, it still served its function. We got the program. Sure a drink would've been nice, and a social space to enable some excited chats was conspicuously absent, but we still got what we came for. The grail-like paper program that will act as a blueprint/bible/street-map for 17 days of my life come late July is in my hands.
Walking into the cinema brought a rather odd sight. Scores of people sitting around reading. Sucking down the program like a thirsty traveller craving water. I immediately flicked to the back index and scanned the A – Z film listings. Yep, I was happy. Despite the unusual amount of announcements in the weeks leading up to this year's launch there were still some pleasant surprises, including a couple of genre pieces I have been anticipating all year. Thankfully, there will be walk-outs.
Unlike last year, we were given the programs on the way into the launch rather than on the way out. Of course I was initially happy to get my greedy impatient hands on the program as soon as possible but I soon realized that MIFF had made a strangely fundamental mistake in doing so. Most of the crowd were given a good 15 or 20 minutes to flick through the program before the presentation thus making the inevitable speeches that followed totally redundant. Simply telling me information that I had exactly read over just minutes before. From the new sections to the opening night film it all became slightly monotonous in the end.
It also was odd to see some of the films that were featured in Artistic Director Michelle Carey's speech and the trailer reel. Finnisterrae for example, looks like the bastard child of Matthew Barney and Harmony Korine, really not something I would choose to highlight. Of course ultimately, we all came for one thing and we got it. The real enjoyment comes with the intervening days as this first copy of the program will inevitably become shabby and dog-eared while we nut out the complicated scheduling issues that come with serious film festival business.
A full program review will come later in the week.
First impression (based on films seen at Sydney Film Festival plus other unseen yet anticipated titles) = we have a very, very good festival ahead of us folks...