In a blow to filmmakers and cinema-lovers alike, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), scheduled to be held August 6 to 23, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It marks the first time the festival will not go ahead in its 68 year history. Associated industry events such as the 37°South Market and Accelerator Lab have also been cancelled. Membership or passes to MIFF 2020 will now be valid for MIFF 2021.
“The thought of a winter without MIFF in our city is a disorienting one; deeply disappointing to both our organisation, and I’m sure, our community,” said MIFF artistic director Al Cossar in a statement.
“It is a decision that was very hard but plainly necessary, responsible and required given what we all face together at this moment. Our thoughts rush to those who make MIFF what it is year after year, and what it will return to be. To our partners, funders, venues, staff, suppliers, filmmakers and artists, volunteers, prized collaborators of all kinds, and our own uniquely MIFF audiences, we wish you safety and support; we will continue, together.”
MIFF’s cancellation follows the cancellation of other local festivals Sydney Film Festival, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and Gold Coast Film Festival, as well as the cancellation or postponement of major international festivals such as Cannes Film Festival, SXSW, Hot Docs, and Tribeca.
However, MIFF’s statement notes it is “considering other means of continuing to engage its audiences”, presumably online.
As the country’s largest festivals, the absence of both MIFF and Sydney Film Festival from the 2020 line-up will be keenly felt. Both festivals are strong supporters of Aussie film, with each typically boasting high numbers of either world or Australian premieres of local features, documentaries, shorts and interactive work – MIFF notably has its own Premiere fund.