Taking a look at the MIFF mini mag, which arrived in the mail today (and, as posted yesterday, downloadable as a PDF), I noticed that the Closing Night film (Bran Nue Day) and celebrations are taking place on Saturday 8 August, leaving another day of screenings before the festival actually closes. Now, I've had double tickets to the Closing Night screenings and celebrations for the previous two years and not used them. Being held on Sundays has been a put-off for me. After two and a half weeks of screenings with a full festival pass (and seeing around 40 films), the thought of a Sunday night film with work the next day holds little appeal. So for me, this represents a change for the better.
In the past, MIFF members received the full festival guide a day before its general distribution in The Age newspaper. This year I'm delighted to see that members get the opportunity to receive it a full four days earlier. The general release is Friday 10 July and the festival launch will be Monday 6 July. That's a good head-start on thrashing out what's on offer when, and beginning the daunting task of distilling some 250 films down to a 40-film program over 17 days.
A potentially contentious change this year is that full festival passes are no longer open to the general public. One must now be a MIFF member to purchase a full pass, a strategy obviously designed to increased festival membership. This follows last year's decision to provide priority entry to screenings for MIFF members, a strategy that resulted in a tripling of members. Some complained that this is not very egalitarian while I, as a member, had no problem with it. I also feel similarly about this latest change. MIFF involves a massive endeavour and costs that require a lot of support, which ultimately benefits the supporters. Membership benefits MIFF, and the member benefits outweigh the costs. I see it as a win-win situation. What about you? Any thoughts for or against?