“It started off when went up Sydney for Tropfest, which is the world’s largest short film festival,” says director Ivan Malekin, who established the festival back in 2008. “I noticed a lot of the films that I saw were actually from Melbourne, so a film festival exclusive to Melbourne made sense. Then as the years have passed, it has just grown.”
Also having directed the festival for eight consecutive years, Malekin has watched the interest for the festival grow, along with the quality of the submissions.
“This year we had over 200 submissions which is a record for us,” he says. “We have a team including myself that go over submissions, watch them, and mark them. We decide based on a combination of everything, both story and production elements. In film it takes elements from all disciplines: camera, storytelling and acting. These components must come together in a stand out way to tell a compelling story.”
With a diverse variety of films on showcase in the 2016 program, Malekin says there is something that will cater to the taste of any movie-goer.
“This year I’m most looking forward to seeing The Legend Of Ben Hall opening the festival on a big screen, it’s going to be absolutely magical,” he says. “Also, Crime and Punishment by Andrew O’Keefe is going to be a stand out. It’s based on the classic 1866 novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Innuendo by Saara Lamberg is another twisty psychological thriller and it’s her debut feature. When you watch it, you’re so absorbed in the story and trying to work out what happens next. There are so many exciting films being shown this year.”
2016 marks a year of change for Made In Melbourne. Working closely with Women in Film & Television, the program aims to increase submissions from female filmmakers. An Indigenous incentive program has also been established this year to encourage people from all backgrounds to participate in the festival, and bridge gaps in the film industry.
“In the seven years this festival has run, we had never received a submission by an Indigenous film maker and wondered why that was,” he said. “So we established the First Nations Script To Screen Initiative, where we helped produce the screenplay Half. It will premiere at the festival at MIM Moonlight at QV Melbourne, the first time we are doing something under the stars. The film is about accepting who you are as a person, what you are, where you come from and making your decisions based on that.”
A web series category has also been added this year to keep up with the unprecedented number of people who now enjoy watching films online.
“There’s a new young generation we want to capture by moving online,” Malekin says. “Today, the world online is just as exciting as what we might see on television, so responding to that we introduced a web series category. We have wanted to do a web series for a while but never had the funding to do so.”
Yet despite these boundaries the film industry may face, Malekin is confident that cinema will remain strongly embedded in the culture of Melbourne.
“We get more and more submissions by new filmmakers, new faces, an equality of work every year,” he says. “It becomes harder and harder to select the finalists because of the quality of work, so I’m quite optimistic about the film industry in Melbourne and filmmaking, because there’s a lot of ongoing talent coming through that we can continue to showcase.”
Amongst the many festivals that constantly run across the city, Made In Melbourne is a unique opportunity to witness the inner workings of some of Melbourne’s creatives on a big screen, as well as support local and emerging talent.
“We’re the only festival exclusively for local film makers. We celebrate Melbourne art and talent, we showcase emerging and established film makers as well as the next generation of local film makers and it all starts from home – who knows where these film makers will be in the future. So come along, and support Melbourne.”
By Julia Sansone