Melbourne International Film Festival expands digital program, pushing back Victorian cinema screenings

Melbourne International Film Festival expands digital program, pushing back Victorian cinema screenings

Photo by Tony Zara

The beloved festival has flipped its schedule to maximise both in-cinema and online opportunities for its audience.

With Victoria’s current restrictions surrounding gatherings and venues, and with Greater Sydney and Queensland both currently in lockdown, the Melbourne International Film Festival has once again made some changes to the format of the beloved event ahead of its launch this Thursday, August 5. The event was due to kick off with a bunch of physical screenings in Melbourne and Victorian cinemas until August 15 before moving online for the rest of the festival.

Building on last year’s digital festival MIFF 68½, which allowed audiences to stream the fully-curated program from the comfort of their homes, the festival has flipped its schedule and is expanding its virtual offering for its 2021 edition.

What you need to know

  • Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has made some changes to its 2021 event
  • The festival has flipped its schedule, bringing forward and expanding its digital program
  • In-person screenings will now take place from August 12

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MIFF will now bring forward the online program to run for the full duration of the festival from 5-22 August, while the in-cinema screenings will now commence later on 12 August to maximise both in-cinema and online opportunities for its audience.

MIFF Play – the festival’s online streaming platform – will now beam into lounge rooms nationwide for the duration of the festival with more than 90 features and a range of short films, expanding from the original 62 films already announced. What’s more, is that MIFF Play will be available to be accessed in all states across Australia from Friday 6 August.

“In the midst of covid-era calamity, constraint and complication, MIFF keep moving forward to meet audiences where they are, including those in lockdown currently,” Artistic Director Al Cossar says. “Our whole festival team is working extremely hard to ensure that we can create and sustain as many opportunities for audiences to be a part of the festival this year as possible.”

“We are determined to share our wonderful program, and the work of so many incredible filmmakers, with audiences – through moving our entire schedule to make the most in-cinema screenings for the largest audience possible, utilising large capacity venues such as the Coburg Drive In, and expanding MIFF Play’s digital festival season, so that audiences anywhere in Australia can make MIFF happen, even in 2021.”

The digital edition will kick off with 2021 Sundance hit CODA, Siân Heder’s coming-of-age story about the daughter of adults who are deaf. The film premiered at Sundance, where it won four awards, including a Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, as well as making headlines for becoming the biggest film acquisition in the history of the festival.

As for the physical part of the festival, Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson will remain MIFF’s Opening Night Gala, premiering instead on 12 August to mark the commencement of the festival’s in-cinema program. Due to gathering restrictions, MIFF will also expand their screenings to a range of other venues, including The Astor in St Kilda; The Sun Theatre in Yarraville; Pentridge Cinema in Coburg; and Lido Cinema, Hawthorn as well as CBD venues.

In an additional coup for Melbourne audiences, MIFF has secured a selection of extra titles, four of which screen direct from Cannes – including the Palme D’Or winning film Titane – adding to the already remarkable line-up of films out of the prestigious festival.

With an astonishing lineup of 283 international and Australian films and transformative screen experiences already revealed to be part of this year’s festival (you can check out the previous announcement here), and with the additional films still to be announced, MIFF 2021 is set to be their biggest festival yet.

The 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival runs from Thursday, August 5 to Sunday, August 22, screening online for the festival’s entire duration, and screening venues around Melbourne from Thursday, August 12 to Sunday, August 22. Visit the MIFF website for more information.