The tension, the relief, and occasionally the heartbreak that is…the MIFF standby queue!
It’s that time of year again for the Melbourne International Film Festival, this year celebrating its 60th anniversary. And it’s also when even the best laid plans of the most dedicated cinema lover can go awry. Most sensible cineastes have perused the programme; purchased their mini memberships and either loaded up the iPhone with the scannable bar codes or printed off the precious paper tickets for all their ‘must see’ movies. However, once the festival kicks off, the excitement mounts and the city buzzes with word on which are the really hot ‘sold out’ films that are truly un-missable.
For those left without a ticket to these coveted shows, the only course of action is to pitch up at the cinema in time to join the Standby Queue. Festival veterans and newbies are all equal in this queue, and the etiquette is very firmly laid out for the increasingly nervous patrons. As there are only ever a small number of standby tickets available, it’s a definite no-no to hold places in the queue for friends. However, a polite ‘my friend’s just getting the coffees in’ is acceptable. Friendships are made as people trade stories of movies seen, movies recommended, and movies to avoid.
The clock ticks. Suddenly there’s excitement as festival staff decide there are enough spaces in the cinema for all. Tickets are quickly purchased and patrons race to take their seats. Perseverance has paid off, and another film can be notched up. Phew!
By ACMI Visitor Services Officer, Mike Childs, who at the time of writing had seen eight films, one lecture and survived (successfully!) one standby queue.
MIFF screens around Melbourne from 21 July to 7 August.