The 2014 Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) is fast approaching!
Having moved into their temporary office at ACMI in preparation for the opening on Thursday 19 June, the intrepid MIAF crew are furiously ploughing through the enormous amount of work behind the scenes that goes into the annual event.
“Whittling the 2,900 films entered for the festival down to the 450 that will screen is a huge task,” said MIAF Director, Malcolm Turner. The job, however, “is as much fun as it sounds.”
Selecting the films is only the first step in a long process. An invitation and contract must be organised for every work selected, before a suitable screening format can be sourced and secured.
Then, to comply with Australian laws, every film must be officially “exempted from classification” by the Australian Classification Board, a herculean task involving putting together a detailed synopsis and statutory declaration application for each film (a process involving an estimated 200 hours work).
In recent years, ACMI has mustered a posse of volunteers to help the tiny MIAF team through the classification process, something that only film festival organisers in Australia and New Zealand have to face. Creating detailed synopses for these films is not as easy as it sounds; next time you’re at a MIAF screening, take a moment to think about how you might write a purely subjective and detailed description of some of the highly imaginative, even surreal, films that MIAF packs into its line up.
The two programs that present the most classification challenges are the Abstract Showcase and Late Night Bizarre. As their titles suggest, the Abstract Showcase features conceptual works that almost defy description, while Late Night Bizarre features a checklist of subjects and scenarios that would probably raise a red flag at the classification board (cowpokes poking where cowpokes shouldn’t be poking, the truth behind the alien anal probe myth, drug-addled, axe-swinging penguins…you get the drift).
But as difficult as they are to classify, these films, in all their indefinable glory, embody what’s so great about animation.
The Melbourne International Animation Festival takes place at ACMI from Thursday 19 June – Sunday 29 June 2014.