Superficial pleasures

MIFF 1968. Image courtesy The State Library of Victoria.

Blast to the past: MIFF 1968. Image courtesy The State Library of Victoria.

In early 2011 the Melbourne International Film Festival published an online archive of its 59 years of festival programs. The archive drew attention not only from cinephiles but also the graphic arts community as the eclectic history of the festival program designs were highlighted.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the festival, MIFF is looking back at its place in Melbourne’s cultural heritage. MIFF 60: The Graphic Art of The Melbourne International Film Festival celebrates the history of the festival through its art and design. The exhibition looks at the festival’s visual language around film and celebrates the vibrancy the festival has brought to the cold Melbourne winters.

For festival patrons, the striking visual language of the festival provides a starting point for reflection on personal festival histories. A certain image from a program design can be intrinsically linked to the festival experience.

MIFF 1976. Image courtesy The State Library of Victoria.

MIFF 1976. Image courtesy The State Library of Victoria.

From the festival’s beginnings, creative director Erwin Rado cultivated the festival as a celebration of filmic art, and the aesthetics of the festival program and surrounding visual collateral were part of this. Rado’s relationship with Ray Fisher (MIFF Chair 1964 – 1984), former creative director at K.M. Campbell Advertising, led to the festival attracting the best available designers, from Arthur Leydin in 1953 to Max Robinson who designed the first MIFF emblem as well as the 1958 and 1961 programs. In the early decades of the festival, Rado allowed the designers creative freedom, and as such there was a high level of artistry in the programs and artwork. In later years you can see the festival’s brand and image become more controlled and linked to larger marketing campaigns.

1969 MIFF program designed by Peter Guiliano

1969 MIFF program designed by Peter Guiliano

Looking back at the list of designers who have worked for the festival, it is a veritable who’s who of Australian Graphic design, with programs designed by AGDA Hall of Fame members Arthur Leydin (1953), Brian Sadgrove (1973 & 1974), Frank Eidlitz (1965), Lyndon Whaite (1975 & 1976), and Max Robinson (1958 & 1961).

1953 MIFF program cover designed by Arthur Leydin

1953 MIFF program designed by Arthur Leydin

1975 MIFF program designed by Lyndon Whaite

1975 MIFF program designed by Lyndon Whaite

Moving from history to modern-day, Warren Taylor (The Narrows) has researched and designed an accompanying exhibition catalogue for MIFF 60 which will offer insights from graphic design heroes such as Max Robinson and Brian Sadgrove into MIFF’s visual language and design process. Taylor has designed the catalogue to both complement the exhibition and offer greater consideration into the MIFF designs and their place within Australian graphic design history.

The MIFF 60 catalogue will be officially launched on Tuesday 26 July at The Forum Theatre. See MIFF’s offical website  for more details and to pre-order your catalogue.

MIFF 60 shows at ACMI from Friday 1 July – Monday 8 August 2011. See the ACMI website for more details.

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