← back to Revue

Access at MIFF 2023

By MIFF Staff | 03.08.2023 | News Recommendations
Access at MIFF 2023

While cinema can be a powerful and sometimes even life-transforming medium – not just for storytelling, but for changing minds and sparking societal change – it might not come as a surprise that the screen sector can be riddled with inequality and obstacles to participation.

In fact, as University of Melbourne researcher Dr Radha O’Meara outlines in the nationwide survey Disability and Screen Work in Australia: Report for Industry 2023, disabled workers face prejudice and discrimination on a regular basis within the Australian screen industry. Meanwhile, Arts Access Victoria has found, via its Choose Film research project, that low-vision and blind as well as Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities are largely disengaged from film festivals – in large part due to barriers around marketing and exhibition.

To go some way towards addressing these issues, MIFF offers a range of accessible services across our venues, screenings and events in order to facilitate all film lovers’ access to cinema. Access at the festival is delivered across three categories: Physical, Communication and Sensory. All other equity-focused offerings are presented under the category Inclusion. For more information, a list of all accessible sessions and details on how to book tickets, head here.

Deaf-led screening: The Tuba Thieves

On 13 August at ACMI, MIFF will present a Deaf-led screening of The Tuba Thieves, a trailblazing film by hard-of-hearing filmmaker Alison O’Daniel that reframes cinema from a d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing perspective.

The session will feature an introduction and post-film discussion in Auslan from a panel of Deaf filmmakers and artists, and the film will screen with Open Captions. The introduction and post-film discussion will be conducted entirely in Auslan, with spoken-English interpreters provided to allow access for all patrons.

Header and above: The Tuba Thieves

Accessible galas

MIFF is thrilled to present two accessible galas for the 2023 festival. The Music on Film GalaEgo: The Michael Gudinski Story, about the titular maverick entrepreneur who founded Mushroom Records and revolutionised the Australian music industry over five decades – will screen on 10 August at ACMI with Open Captions and Audio Description.

The Closing Night GalaTheater Camp, about a ragtag cast and crew of theatre nerds who bring extra drama to save their beloved summer camp – will screen on 19 August at ACMI with Open Captions.

Haptic vests for

The MIFF XR experience In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats comes with the option for patrons to wear haptic vests. Haptic vests create the sensation of physical impact on the body, enabling a physically immersive experience. This is accessible to those living with hearing loss or who are d/Deaf.

Above: This Is Going to Be Big

Films by and about the Deaf and Disabled community

Joining The Tuba Thieves among this year’s slate of stories is the MIFF Premiere Fund–supported This Is Going to Be Big, a real-life coming-of-age film about a cast of neurodivergent teens preparing to hit the stage in their school’s time-travelling, John Farnham–themed musical. The 20 August (Forum Melbourne) session, which will screen with Audio Description and Open Captions, will include a post-film Q&A co-presented by Arts Access Victoria.

Elsewhere, Fledglings follows three first-graders as they farewell their parents and enter a boarding school for students who are blind or have low vision; Blond Night depicts an autistic man finding a moment of transcendence through a chance encounter after dark; the world-first mixed-reality work Turbulence: Jamais Vu channels the experience of a chronic vestibular condition; and Lou invites us to step into the shoes of an autistic child.

Physical access

All metro venues at MIFF this year have step-free access, are wheelchair-accessible and have accessible seating (including aisle seats and seats close to an exit). Guide dogs and assistance animals are welcome at all MIFF venues.

Above: Fledglings


Communication access

MIFF 2023 offers a selection of films screening with Open Captions and/or Audio Description tracks, films that are 100% subtitled, Auslan-interpreted events, and venues with Assistive Listening or Hearing Loop devices.

A particular highlight will be the Audio Description–led session of Memory Film: A Filmmaker’s Diary (17 August, ACMI). For this session, the Audio Description track will play through the main cinema speakers.

Sensory access

MIFF will run Sensory Friendly Screenings at select sessions this year. Sensory Friendly Screenings are designed to make the cinema experience accessible and are for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. Pre-screening materials will also be provided to ensure that viewers are well-informed prior to attending.


Crybaby Sessions cater for parents and carers with babies and toddlers who wish to enjoy the festival in a bub-friendly environment. This year’s Crybaby Session film will be Fairyland (8 August, Kino).

Our streaming platform MIFF Play also returns this year so that audiences can enjoy the festival from the comfort of their homes. Select access services will be available for MIFF Play titles.

The University of Melbourne is MIFF 2023’s Learning Partner. 

Return to list