MIFF to present virtual showcase

While the 2020 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) may have been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns, organisers today announced a virtual edition that will feature new release titles from around the world.

Dubbed MIFF 68½ (this would have been the festival’s 69th year), the ticketed showcase will run across the event’s original dates – August 6 to 23 – using a streaming platform from Shift 72.

Expected to screen around 40 features, MIFF director Al Cossar said while MIFF 68½ may not have the scale of the regular festival, it will still “certainly have all of the heart.”

“MIFF is a Melbourne icon that offers an important point of togetherness for our city and creative communities each year,” Cossar said.

“MIFF 68½ is our response to these difficult times – the result of our desire to sustain MIFF’s outstanding film programming, stay connected with our audience, and foster new audience connections during this truly unparalleled time.”

The program will be revealed on July 14, and promises elements of the planned 2020 lineup, as well as highlights from emerging filmmakers.

It will also feature a presentation of shorts across the Australian, International, Animation and Documentary program packages, with MIFF’s traditional Shorts Awards to also go ahead.

The move online is made possible thanks to a philanthropic gift from Melbourne-based producer and businesswoman Susie Montague – the largest donation in the festival’s history.

“I’m supporting MIFF so that the festival can tackle the challenges of this difficult year and going digital is a no-brainer,” said Montague. “I want to see MIFF continue to grow its audience and cement its reputation as one of the world’s leading film festivals.”

Actor, director and producer Rachel Griffiths – who made Ride Like A Girl with Montague – has also stepped up to support the festival, and will serve as ambassador.

“MIFF applauds the philanthropic leadership of Susie Montague, as well as the generosity of Rachel Griffiths, which will assist MIFF to innovate and connect with audiences in these challenging times,” said MIFF Chair Teresa Zolnierkiewicz.

MIFF is also running a broader fundraising campaign.

Melbourne’s shift online follows that of the Sydney Film Festival, which announced earlier this week that elements of its program will go ahead virtually from June 10 to 21.