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Experiencing the Unforgettable: An Interview with Damien Hodgkinson

By MIFF Staff | 16.01.2024 | Interviews
Experiencing the Unforgettable: An Interview with Damien Hodgkinson

We speak to MIFF’s new CEO, Damien Hodgkinson, about his love of film and his vision for Melbourne’s beloved celebration of cinema.

Hot-seat time: what’s your favourite film and why?

I clearly remember watching a review of Waiting for Guffman (MIFF 1997) and thinking, This is the movie for me. Having spent my youth deep in school musicals and theatresports, I was drawn to this mockumentary like a moth to a flame. Written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, directed by Guest, and featuring an extraordinary ensemble cast including Guest, Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Fred Willard and many more, the film enraptured me with the absurdity of it all. All Christopher Guest films (particularly also Best in Show) are on high rotation at home and it has been wonderful to see the careers of this whole ensemble bloom, appropriately acknowledging each of their comic genius.

What made you decide to come aboard as MIFF’s CEO, and how did your past trajectory bring you here?

I have spent much of my career with festivals here in Melbourne. I’ve joined MIFF after 11 years working as executive director with Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where I was passionate about how festivals can change our city. They are ephemeral and exciting, offering audiences the chance to experience the unforgettable. MIFF has long been special to me and, many years ago, my partner and I went on our first date to a MIFF Member screening. This seems not an uncommon experience, knowing several couples who met through MIFF.

MIFF has a seven-decade-long history of bringing the story of the world to Melbourne. In what ways do you plan to build on this legacy?

I’ve not experienced any other festival where I know so many friends who carve out a chunk of their year to devour creativity. I am focused on working with the incredible MIFF team to broaden, grow and further strengthen MIFF’s audience and supporters. MIFF’s industry programs are critical to connect local stories and productions with the international marketplace. I am enthusiastic to work with our screen industry colleagues to elevate their projects and careers.

What are you most looking forward to at MIFF 2024?

Is this a trick question? The program is still embargoed, right? Incredible film program aside, I am looking forward to meeting the audience, members, donors, partners, filmmakers, industry peers and special guests who make MIFF remarkable. I am excited to engage with our audience and champions, and with our industry partners to support the connections and collaborations developed here in Melbourne at MIFF.

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