Melbourne International Film Festival

Melbourne International Film Festival
Melbourne International Film Festival

MIFF logo
Location Melbourne, Australia
Founded 1951
Number of films 400 (approx)
Official website

The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is an acclaimed annual film festival held over three weeks in Melbourne, Australia. It was founded in 1951,[1] making it one of the oldest in the World.

MIFF is a member of Melbourne's four major film festivals line up, which also include the Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF), Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) and Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF).

The current Festival Director is Michelle Carey, and its ambassadors include: actors Eric Bana and Geoffrey Rush, director Fred Schepisi and documentarian Morgan Spurlock.[2]

The 60th festival took place between 22 July and 7 August in 2011.



MIFF is the largest film festival in Australia with approximately 400 films screened from more than 50 different countries, as well as the World's largest showcase of Australian cinema.[1] It is also the most attended film festival in Australia with over 182,000 admissions (2007 estimate). In 2007, it contributed more than A$8 million to the Melbourne economy.[1]

The festival is currently accredited by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,[3] Australian Film Institute[4] and British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[3] It is also the only festival in Australia to be accredited by all three.

Melbourne also holds a significant place in the history of film for being home to the World's first full-length feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906).[5][6]


The MIFF Opening Night Gala and film screenings take place in the Victorian Arts Centre's Hamer Hall

Main programs:

  • Opening Night Film - generally an Australian film premiere[7]
  • Homegrown - short and feature fiction and documentary films from Australia[8]
  • International Panorama - short and feature fiction and documentary films from around the World[9]
  • Neighbourhood Watch - short and feature fiction and documentary films from Asia[10]
  • Closing Night Film - generally an Australian film premiere[11]

Other programs:

  • Arts and Minds - a program of films celebrating the creative industries[12]
  • Melbourne Citymission Charity Screening - funds go to support Melbourne's homeless[13]
  • NextGen - a program of films aimed at younger generations[14]
  • Night Shift - a program of cult films screened after midnight till the early morning[15]
  • Special Screenings - generally film premieres or screenings with a director's Q&A[16]
  • States of Dissent - a program of films dedicated to human rights[17]

Reoccurring events:

  • Opening Night Gala - the red carpet launch of the festival
  • 37° South Market - see: #37ºSouth Market
  • Accelerator - workshops and screenings for filmmakers to develop their skills, craft and industry contacts[18]
  • Festival Lounge - a venue offering free events, music and performances for the duration of the festival[19]
  • Lights, Camera, TRACKtion - short film mini-competition celebrating Melbourne's trams[20]
  • Short Film Competition - see: #Competition


The Australian Centre for the Moving Image is a main venue for screenings and the 37ºSouth Market

The festival is conducted across various venues located in the Melbourne City Centre, which include the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Forum Theatre, Melbourne Town Hall, RMIT Capitol Theatre, the Victorian Arts Centre and various cinema complexes.[21]

37ºSouth Market

The 37ºSouth Market is the only international film financing marketplace to take place during a film festival in Australia.[22] It is held over four days at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, and with industry panels and guest lectures taking place at the Forum Theatre. It enables Australian and international producers with market-ready feature-length projects to meet with financiers.[22] The 37ºSouth Market is also the exclusive partner of the London Production Finance Market for Australia and New Zealand.[22]

In 2009, the 37ºSouth Market attracted 35 companies; which included: Bavaria Films, Icon Productions, Media 8 Entertainment, Miramax Films, NBC Universal, National Geographic Channel, Paramount Pictures, Pathé, Village Roadshow, etc.[23]


Whilst MIFF remains mostly a non-competitive festival, since 1962 it has staged a highly regarded short film competition.[24] It also presents audience popularity awards for feature film and documentary.[24]

The first award ever presented was for "Best Short Film", which was changed to the "Grand Prix for Best Short Film" in 1965.[24] From 1985, the Grand Prix has been officially presented by the City of Melbourne.[24]

The Forum Theatre is a main venue for the short film competition, as well as festival panels and lectures

Awards for feature film

  • Most Popular Feature Film (presented by Stella Artois)
  • Most Popular Documentary (presented by Stella Artois)

Short film competition

All competition:

  • Grand Prix for Best Short Film (presented by the City of Melbourne)
  • Award for Best Fiction Short Film (presented by Cinema Nova)
  • Award for Best Animated Short Film (presented by RMIT)
  • Award for Best Documentary Short Film (presented by RMIT)
  • Award for Highly Commended Fiction Short Film (presented by Village Roadshow)
  • Award for Highly Commended Animated Short Film (presented by Village Roadshow)
  • Award for Highly Commended Documentary Short Film
  • Award for Best Short Screenplay (presented by the Australian Writers' Guild)
  • Award for Best Student Short Film
  • Award for Best Experimental Short Film
  • Award for Best Achievement in a Video Production
  • Award for Short Film Promoting Human Rights
  • FIPRESCI Prize (presented by the International Federation of Film Critics)

Australian only:

  • Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film (presented by Film Victoria)
  • Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker (presented by Melbourne International Airport)
  • Award for Creative Excellence in an Australian Short Film (presented by Cinema Nova)
  • Award for Best Australian Achievement in Cinematography (presented by Panavision)
  • Award for Best Australian Achievement in Editing (presented by Avid Technology)

Winners of Grand Prix

Year Film Director Country
1965 La gazza ladra Giulio Giannini, Emanuele Luzzati Italy
1966 The Inheritance Harold Mayer USA
1967 Petrol-Carburant-Kraftstoff Hugo Niebeling West Germany
1968 You're Human Like the Rest of Them B.S. Johnson UK
1969 Pas de deux Norman McLaren Canada
1970 Calcutta Louis Malle France
1971 Blake Bill Mason Canada
1972 Scarabus Gérald Frydman Belgium
1973 Street Musique Ryan Larkin Canada
1974 Edward Burra Peter K. Smith UK
1975 Last Grave at Dimbaza Nana Mahamo South Africa
1976 Leisure Bruce Petty Australia
1977 Corralejas de Sincelejo Mario Mitrotti Colombia
1978 Manimals Robin Lehman USA
1979 Malj Aleksandar Ilic Yugoslavia
1980 Interview Caroline Leaf Canada
1981 New York Story Jackie Raynal USA
1982 Shadows Royden Irvine Australia
1983 Douglas Mawson: The Survivor David Parer Australia
1984 Aquí se lo halla Lee Sokol USA
1985 In Heaven There Is No Beer? Les Blank USA
1986 My Life Without Steve Gillian Leahy Australia
1987 Panya shugeki Naoto Yamakawa Japan
1988 The Critical Years Gérard L'Ecuyer Canada/USA
1989 Twilight City Reece Auguiste UK
1990 Swimming Belinda Chayko Australia
1991 Sink or Swim Su Friedrich USA
1992 The Writing in the Sand Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen UK
1993 Lektionen in Finsternis Werner Herzog Germany
1994 Only the Brave Ana Kokkinos Australia
1995 Twilight Tengai Amano Japan
1996 Baka Thierry Knauff Belgium
1997 At Sea Penny Fowler-Smith Australia
1998 The Storekeeper Gavin Hood South Africa
1999 So-poong Song Il-gon South Korea
2000 Wildlife Kate de Pury UK
2001 Muakah Hadar Friedlich Israel
2002 Palace II Kátia Lund, Fernando Meirelles Brazil
2003 Destino Dominique Monfery France
2004 Talking with Angels Yousaf Ali Khan UK
2005 Silent Companion Elham Hosseinzadeh Iran
2006 Avatar Lluis Quilez Spain
2007 Blood Sisters Louise N.D. Friedberg Denmark
2008 Dennis Mads Matthiesen Denmark
2009 Next Floor Denis Villeneuve, Phoebe Greenberg Canada
2010 The Lost Thing Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann Australia

Rebiya Kadeer film controversy

During the 58th festival in 2009, the controversial film The 10 Conditions of Love (2009), which documents the life of the exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer, was screened despite many attempts by the Government of China (which labels her a terrorist) to have the film withdrawn from the festival.

Chinese filmmakers withdrew their films from the festival two days before it opened on 24 July.[25] Former MIFF director Richard Moore refused to pull the film from the festival program,[26] despite the festival website and its online ticketing system being hacked from an IP address of Chinese origin.[27] The festival website was hacked soon after the launch of its program for 2009, with information replaced with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans.[28] Victoria Police was placed on alert during the screening of the film, and Pro-Uighur demonstrators also gathered outside the Melbourne Town Hall.[29]

The Dalai Lama also sent a message of support via, Member of the Parliament of Australia for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby:

[The Dalai Lama] asked me to convey to you, in Melbourne, that [Kadeer] is another one of the national leaders who is a paradigm of non-violence... He wanted to make it very clear to people that the claims of this woman being a violent person or instigating violence, is from his point of view, and with all of his authority, wrong.

— Michael Danby (quoting a letter form the Dalai Lama).[30]

The Government of China attempted to have the film withdrawn from the festival, going to the extent of contacting, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle.[29] Doyle, however, refused to intervene. Australia's Ambassador to China Geoff Raby was summoned by China's Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun to express displeasure about Kadeer's attendance at MIFF.[31]


In 2000, MIFF's rejection of a feature film written and directed by Richard Wolstencroft led him to form the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF). In subsequent years, MUFF has attracted controversy by criticising the content of MIFF as well as its former long-time Director Richard Moore. Wolstencroft claims that MUFF champions "an alternative voice in Australian cinema".[32]


  1. ^ a b c Melbourne International Film Festival - About MIFF
  2. ^ Morgan Spurlock becomes MIFF ambassador - Inside Film, 8 August 2008
  3. ^ a b Film Festival World Resource - Academies and Awards
  4. ^ Australian Film Institute - Professional Accreditation Criteria
  5. ^ Robertson, Patrick. Film Facts. New York: Billboard Books. 2001, p. 9. ISBN 0-8230-7943-0.
  6. ^ Chichester, Jo. Return of the Kelly Gang. UNESCO Courier. 2007, Issue #5. ISSN 1993-8616
  7. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Opening Night
  8. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Homegrown
  9. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - International Panorama
  10. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Neighbourhood Watch
  11. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Closing Night
  12. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Arts and Minds
  13. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Melbourne Citymission Charity Screening
  14. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - NextGen
  15. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Night Shift
  16. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Inglorious Basterds Premiere
  17. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - States of Dissent
  18. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Accelerator
  19. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Festival Lounge
  20. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Lights, Camera, TRACKtion
  21. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - Venues
  22. ^ a b c Melbourne International Film Festival - 37° South Market
  23. ^ Melbourne International Film Festival - 37° South Market, 2009 Guest Profiles
  24. ^ a b c d Melbourne International Film Festival - Award Summary - Internet Movie Database
  25. ^ Chinese entries boycott film festival - ABC News, 21 July 2009
  26. ^ MIFF 'sticking to guns' over Uighur film - ABC News, 26 July 2009
  27. ^ MIFF website hacked amid Chinese film row - ABC News, 26 July 2009
  28. ^ Chinese hackers attack film festival site - ABC News, 1 August 2009
  29. ^ a b Demonstrators turn out at Kadeer film screening - ABC News, 8 August 2009
  30. ^ Dalai Lama sends message of support to Kadeer - ABC News, 9 August 2009
  31. ^ China summons Australia over Uighur leader visit - ABC News, 1 August 2009
  32. ^ Melbourne Underground Film Festival - Director's Statement

External links

See also

Major film festivals in Melbourne

Other film festivals in Melbourne

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