When I first moved to Melbourne in late 2001 I thought I was quite the moofie buff. I loved going to the moofies (that spelling is a reference to The Late Show, one of the funniest Aussie sketch comedy shows ever) almost every weekend and often during the week. I'd see anything and everything that I could, including all the crappy rom coms, kids films, dull action films - anything! Of course this was coming from Albury, where for much of my life it only had two screens to show moofies on - not exactly today's modern multiplex. Not to menton the films I was seeing were predominantly Hollywood, UK or Australian produced; I was not exactly a world cinema expert.
In mid-2002 I had my first experience of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) where for around two weeks there are many screenings of films from all over the world in just about any language you can name. I think I saw Gojo that year and a few animation sessions. Over the next few years I went to a session here and there when I could be bothered, or if I even knew that MIFF was on. It wasn't until I became friends with Jack that my eyes were opened to the entoxicating miasma that surrounds MIFF.
Jack has been attending MIFF in full for about 10 years now, and by in full I mean he takes the two weeks off work and attempts to see 5 to 7 films a day. He invited me along to the closing night film of 2005, Election (not a brilliant film, but watchable), and of course the alcohol fuelled after-party at Cookie afterwards. It was there that I met a group of true cinephiles, people who had been attending MIFF for even longer than Jack and who absolutely adored the cinematic medium, who were more than happy to see an atrociously bad film just so they could discuss and bag it out afterwards, who loved cinema in all its glory and depravity equally. I'd met some real-life Margaret & Davids!
I was hooked.
In 2006 I took the two and a half weeks off work to go and see as many films as possible, whilst also downing quite a few beers along the way - there's no point taking time off work unless there is alcohol involved. Opening night party, the after party, hotel shenanigans - now THAT is a long story - and film after film after film. Drama, comedy, doco, horror, action, musical, thriller, rom com, animation, kids, experimental, shorts - you name it, MIFF has it. I think in that first year I saw around 80 films out of the possible 105 or so sessions, not bad for my first effort. I will admit it was bloody exhausting hurrying between cinemas to not be late to sessions - there would often be days where I'd just have to catch snacks in between sessions, days where I would maybe see a total of an hour of "outside". Glorious.
I again attended in 2007 (about 60 films) and again 2008 (45 films). This year was a little different in that both Jack and I had agreed to take it relatively easy: no rushing between cinemas, lots of trips to the pub, many football games watched and plenty of sessions skipped if we weren't in the mood or too hung over. Even though I probably saw half as many films as I could have this year, it was the most fun year yet with a nice relaxed atmosphere and plenty of good times to be had. The closing night film and after party were absolute gold with Jack & I inviting along great friends Panda and James to see the horrifically wonderful [REC] and then drinking copious amounts of beer at Billboard where many a dance style was murdered.
As far as I can tell I'll be attending MIFF for as many years as possible. A lot of people have told me that staying in Melbourne is not a real holiday but with the films I see, I travel all around the world and back dozens of times over in the encompassing comfort of a well padded cinema seat and the warm familiarity of the screen's glow with the ticking of the projector soothing my worries away.
MIFF, I loves ya...
And I haven't even discussed the actual films yet! Methinks that's for several other posts.
(I have photos which I'll put up when I get a chance)