The essential MIFF survival guide: Part Deux

The guide to get you through MIFF 2010

So handy it even fits in a handbag - our MIFF 2010 Guide

As you assemble in the streets getting ready for the annual MIFF stampede, it’s essential that you read the final chapter in our survival guide (see Part 1). If you are among the foolhardy to get gored because you didn’t take our advice, well we have no sympathy for you.

On that note, we offer you the following additional tips for surviving the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival:

Show the love, be the love, behold the love

You’ll spend a lot of time in the trenches with your fellow patrons and those who work to keep the good ship MIFF afloat. It’s inevitable that tempers will fray when naps are deprived and when Murphy’s Law is the only law.

When the dice are thrown and you’re hit with a couple of snake eyes, go to your happy place. Kumbaya.

Be nice to everyone: MIFF staff, other attendees, and whoever makes your coffee. I’ve seen some hilarious tantrums in queues. If you can’t rely on your own sweet nature, remember that everyone within a 500 metre radius will quietly mock you if you raise your voice. Martyn Pedler

For some reason, MIFF audiences usually applaud at the end of the film, even if there’s no special guest there to hear it. It’s odd, pointless, and sweet. Feel free to join in. Martyn Pedler

I might also add in here, try to avoid talking in the films and smooching and stuff like that.

The Q and the Q & A

For those new to MIFF, you must know: films start on time (usually), and queues start early. A newly-minted initiate to the MIFF phenomenon can always be spotted when, breezing in to the cinema five minutes before kick-off, their face turns to shock, disgust, fear and self-pity at the millipedian swarm that is already crawling over the auditorium. We recommend getting a half hour jump on everybody else.

Queuing isn’t fun, but neither is sitting in the front row and staring at subtitles the size of a billboard. Prepare to stand in line. Bring a book. You can save a spot in line for one person, but three or four? Expect fisticuffs. Martyn Pedler

Q&A ettiquette: Don’t thank the panel for the opportunity to ask a question. Don’t provide a review of the film. Don’t ask a multi-part question. Don’t use your air time to demonstrate your own wit and sophistication. Don’t continue to hold the microphone to your mouth and breathe heavily while your question is being answered. Sam Chater & Simone Ubaldi

Choosing your Films

Oh yes, going to the cinema might seem like a fun idea, but take a look at the festival guide – there is probably over a million films in there. We didn’t count them, but that’s probably how many there are. In essence this means that you are faced with something that looks suspiciously like homework.

Reading, cross-referencing, categorising, prioritising and a very big spreadsheet are all necessary evils here. Consider using a ruler. They’re pretty useful generally (even if it’s just for slapping yourself awake during your 5th session for the day).

Make sure you see some films on your own – too much hassle organising friends. Make sure you see some with friends – good to have your own crew to talk over your cinematic experience with. And never, ever, watch a sloooow japanese film that starts later than 8pm. Monty

Take two weeks off work and buy a festival pass – that way you can have the mornings to sleep in and relax, making it in for the first session around lunchtime. You are totally stress free and have a clear mind to absorb the films. Remember, if you are really not enjoying your fourth film of the day, its ok to leave early and not see it through (sit near the aisle so you don’t have to disturb the entire row when leaving). The most number of films able to be absorbed in any one day is four – if you go for five you are really pushing it and probably won’t remember the first. Annie Dolan

Don’t be one of those people who is more interested in clocking up numbers than actually experiencing the films themselves. MIFF isn’t a competition. There’s no prize waiting for whoever stuffs the most movies into their tired eyes. Martyn Pedler

If you are a big MIFF nerd, make your schedule, PDF it and send it to all your friends: truth is, they want you to lead them. Sam Chater

See what you want to see, not what you think you should see. Note too that some of these films will get a general release in the coming months, so they’re the ones you should sacrifice first. Martyn Pedler

Ultimately, try to see as many films as you can without turning into an anti-social, confused, angry and mute human. If that’s not possible, try and find a way of curing yourself before next years festival, or at least Christmas.

If you find that cure, please let us know so that we can share it before the next annual ‘Running of the Cinéphiles’ in 2011.

Good luck out there, look after yourself and remember – the zombies belong on the cinema screen, not in the cinema seats.

Have we missed anything?

Anna Svedberg, Screen Events Coordinator, ACMI Public Programs
Compiled with the assistance of seasoned festival patrons who have learnt the hard way, with thanks.

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