Melbourne International Film Festival rejects digital and IRL program to beat COVID

Chris Pang was looking forward to opening MIFF opening night. “Since COVID started, I’ve been to the cinema exactly once,” says the Melbourne company Crazy Rich Asians actor and ambassador of the MIFF. “I was really looking forward to having a good back party with real people for the premiere of Leah Purcell Drover’s wife. She had a new Hugo Boss dress ready and all. “

Whether or not Pang manages to pull the strings sharp or not will depend a lot on what happens with the COVID restrictions from now until August 12, which is the new date for the Australian premiere of Purcell’s film and the start from the cinema side. of the 69th Melbourne International Film Festival.

Coming to the next screens: Ling Ang, Chris Pang and Al Cossar demonstrate some of the ways MIFF will reach the public this year.Credit:Jason South

The hybrid festival was to start initially in cinemas on August 5, until the 15th, with an online component that would start on the 14th and last until the 22nd. But that has already changed: the virtual festival (which has been expanded, with nearly 30 more films, including four other Cannes feature films), will take place from 5 to 22 August and the film festival will take place on 12 August. -22 (with regional screenings from 13 to 15 and 20 to 22 August).

Confused? Then save yourself an idea for the festival’s artistic director, Al Cossar, who, for the second year in a row, has had to turn down all programming with short notice. And depending on how things evolve over the next fortnight, he and his team may not be finished yet.


“Given the nature of the Delta variant, a day is a long time and a week is an eternity,” Cossar says. “Even now, with so many complicated and complicated changes in warp speed so that we can present the festival, we cannot rule out the possibility that we have to continue making decisions and change in response to the conditions around us as they evolve. ”

As it stands, the audience has an effective limit of 100 people per cinema. This makes important events such as the opening night and the gala of the festival impossible to stage in its traditional form. For Cossar, the biggest disappointment at having to organize a modified festival under the impact of COVID is not being able to bring filmmakers to cinemas to experience their work with regular bets.

“The way MIFF connects artists with the public is a very important part of what we do. It is incredibly difficult to have films (in some cases, world premieres) without the filmmakers sharing such a special moment ”.

The festival will feature recorded video messages or Q + As whenever possible, and it is hoped that by the time August 12 capacity can be increased.

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