Recent times have seen an upsurge in the voice of the people, though whether more people are speaking out or whether they are just more visible and louder due to increased connectivity is up for debate.
Cinema – as recognised by notorious and monumentally influential figures such as Vladimir Lenin and Kim Jong-il (more on him later) – remains one of the most direct and rewarding modes of declaration for filmmakers and audiences alike. Ninety minutes certainly allow for more diverse perspectives than 140 characters do.
In putting together the 2013 MIFF, this fact has been particularly salient, if not an overarching theme. Everywhere we are noticing a cinematic fist in the air (to quote last year’s artwork!). So we present to you some timely new program spotlights – Defying the Times: Activism on Film, as well as States of Play: American Independents, A League of Their Own: New Arabic Cinema and Juche Days: North Korea on Film, an extremely rare opportunity to see films from the DPRK. There’s also our retrospective on Italian giallo, Shining Violence, while past spotlight favourites such as TeleScope, Masters & Restorations and This Sporting Life are back, as well as the latest and greatest in international features, shorts, animation and documentary.
If you need to recharge between films, this year the Festival Lounge, located in the Forum Theatre, will be selling an enticing array of food and drink from Huxtable, Mr Close and Coffee Clique.
My thanks to the Board and entire team of MIFF for their passion and hard work putting together the 2013 festival. On behalf of them all, we wish you an excellent Festival!
Dear Miffological Beings,
It's May, 2013, and I am in Germany, shooting the Australian novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak within the historical aura of Berlin's magnificent Babelsberg Studios. Recently, in the celebration of its centenary, these soundstages have been a cutting edge playground for the likes of Tarantino, Polanski, Tom Tykwer, the Wachowski siblings and Roland Emmerich among others, but its true mythology as a cradle of influential cinematic art comes from the ever-present ghosts of its maverick Golden Age in the 20s and early 30s. Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, a young Hitchcock, von Sternberg, Marlene Dietrich, FW Murnau, GW Pabst and Billy Wilder – their groundbreaking visions are still palpable in the creative spirit of the place. In a time of acute political upheaval and a repressive ideology, they escaped with their bold aesthetics, and challenged and enriched the commerciality of Depression Hollywood.
In Australia in the 70s and 90s or, say, Mexico a decade or so ago, we have proportionately experienced similar outbursts of cultural portraiture through the unique syntax of film – and digitally the art form exponentially moves forward: cinema as history; history refracted through the artistry of the lens.
MIFF, now in its seventh decade, continues to showcase and celebrate these seismic movements. Michelle and her team have boldly included in this year's program a focus on Arabic cinema and, if history is on our side, filmmaking from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea – storytelling with a perspective that hopefully digs below the surface of 24/7 news coverage and propagandist soundbites. Plus there’s the usual broad canvas of local and global moviemaking, docos, retrospectives, music on film – the constant exhilarating hallmark of MIFF's internationally recognised charter. Great filmic food for thought ...