The Melbourne International Film Festival is back in town, set those alarm clocks and put the coffee machine on hyperdrive…….

Melbourne Film Festival: programme

Federation of Victorian Film Societies, 1952 -

Federation of Victorian Film Societies, 1952 –

Hard to believe that the melbourne Film Festival has been going on this long, and I understand that it is now one of the longest running festivals of its type in the world. You can relive all of those past years with our collection of programmes from the year dot, marvelling at the breadth of films that have been shown and the vision of those early festival pioneers.

 

Dekalog 03, On film festivals: guest editor, Richard Porton

Wallflower, 2009

Wallflower, 2009

Film festivals the world over engender heated debate about what their purpose should be, how commercial they should be, do they respond to the needs of their local audiences and film makers, should they exist at all, etc., etc. Many of these issues are played out in this feisty volume of essays and raves, and if passion is a hallmark of success, then it’s clear that these festivals are here to stay!

Short site : recent Australian short film; edited by Emma Crimmings & Rhys Graham, editors

Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2004

Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2004

Short films feature heavily in this year’s festival programme and this book charts a selection of significant Australian short films from script to production, aided by revealing interviews that demonstrate very clearly that, when it comes to creative intensity, size really doesn’t matter.

Peter Weir : interviews edited by John C. Tibbetts (e-book)

University Press of Mississippi, 2014

University Press of Mississippi, 2014

Great to see Peter Weir’s remarkable film, The Last Wave, being given a retrospective showing at this year’s festival. Released in 1977, a couple of years after his phenomenally successful Picnic at Hanging Rock, it has taken something of a back seat to many of his other films over the years but remains a very haunting and unsettling work. Starring American actor Richard Chamberlain and iconic Australian actor David Gulpilil, it explores the collision between a pragmatic middle-class urban lawyer and more ancient forces seemingly unleashed through his relationship with an Aboriginal man accused of murder. Weir is never less than fascinating, and this ebook brings together a number of terrific interviews he has given over the years, covering the full range of his films from those early days in Sydney to the heady stuff of his time in Hollywood.

 

Inside the Hollywood fan magazine : a history of star makers, fabricators, and gossip mongers by Anthony Slide

University Press of Mississippi, 2010

University Press of Mississippi, 2010

This year’s festival also includes some sessions focusing on the careers of some of the great luminaries from the Hollywood studio system; Bette Davis, Fred Astaire, David Niven and John Huston. It’s always good to see festivals such as this honouring the past, and it would be hard to imagine a more interesting (and occasionally volatile) quartet than presenter Adrian Wootton has assembled here. In the course of their stellar careers they all would have been forced into encounters with the Hollywood publicity machine, and here film historian Anthony Slide examines in detail the rise and fall of the fan magazine from its earliest days in the silent era through to its gradual demise into something rather lurid in the sixties and seventies.

To end I just can’t resist another Bette Davis scene, this time from The Letter, and just about my favourite opening scene of any movie; the things they could create in those Hollywood studios, breathtaking!

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