MIFF cancels in-cinema component

Aaron Wilson's 'Little Tornadoes'.

In a sad blow, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has announced it will cancel its in-cinema screenings given the current COVID situation in the city.

The festival, always designed as a hybrid event, will continue nationally on MIFF Play, with the festival securing an additional 30 titles for the platform. These include some direct-from-Cannes titles such as The Hill Where Lionesses Roar, La Civil, Rehana Maryam Noor and Babi Yar, and Australian films Ablaze, Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution, Little Tornadoes and Paper City.

However, some of the festival most anticipated films, including local films such as Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson, intended as the Opening Night Gala, and Justin Kurzel’s Nitram are not available on the service.

As regional Victoria is no longer in lockdown, the festival’s regional season will proceed, with required changes to the line-up to be advised through local operators. Extended reality program, MIFF XR, is also available online, for free.

This is the second rejig for MIFF, which already last week pivoted in-person screenings to later in the program. However, in the meantime, the COVID situation in Melbourne has worsened.

“MIFF’s heart was in a return to cinemas this year, and this is a goal that we have pursued with determination to this point. It is with deep sadness and profound frustration that we must take the step of cancelling our Melbourne cinema-based screenings for 2021,” said festival director Al Cossar.

“From the outset of a volatile year, we designed the festival to be scalable and adaptable — a festival that could change with these uncertain times to meet audiences where they are. Despite the duress of this moment, we are proud that elements of our program can still continue; that our commitment to regional audiences will be fulfilled through the delivery of in-cinema programming across Victoria; through our XR platform, global audiences anywhere can continue their season of MIFF’s exciting range of immersive experiences; and, centrally, through MIFF Play we can continue to deliver the very best Australian and international films to audiences not just in Melbourne but right around the country, at a time that it’s most needed.”

Refunds will be issued to all patrons who have booked tickets for cancelled sessions. MIFF Play and MIFF XR will run nationally until August 22.

Additional titles for MIFF Play include:

All Light, Everywhere
Black Audio Film Collective
Center Stage
Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution
Dear Comrades!
Devotion: A Film About Ogawa Productions
Disobedient Muses: Jackie Raynal, Les Insoumuses and Barbara Cleveland
Faya Dayi
Gaza Mon Amour
I Was a Simple Man
La Civil
Little Tornadoes
New Order
Night of the Kings
Paper City

Poly Styrene: I am a Clich 
Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time
Queen of Glory
Rehana Maryam Noor
Riders of Justice
Sanrizuka – Peasants of the Second Fortress
Sun Children
The Most Beautiful Boy in the World
The Night
The Nowhere Inn
The Wasteland
Wolf Children
Word Is Out: Stories Of Some Of Our Lives
Yugantar Film Collective