Melbourne Underground Film Festival

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August 31, 2012
1:00 am

The 13th Melbourne Underground Film Festival kicks off this Friday with an eclectic program of new, often undiscovered and sometimes bizarre cinematic talent.

We had a chat with founder and festival director Richard Wolstencroft about the beginnings of the festival and what to keep an eye out for at this year’s MUFF.

MILK BAR: How did MUFF get started?

RICHARD WOLSTENCROFT: I’m a filmmaker myself and had made a film called Pearls Before Swine. It played at a number of overseas film festivals and I wanted to show the film in Melbourne, where it was made.

So I sent it to the Melbourne International Film Festival, it was rejected. They considered the film too violent and not the kind of film they wanted to play.

I wrote a fairly outraged letter to online film mag Filmnet which led to an avalanche of emails from filmmakers saying “I made a horror film that was rejected”, “I had a lesbian film, that was rejected”, “I made a science fiction film, that was rejected” and so on.

There were all these films that sounded excellent. So I just said “You are all in! I’m going to start my own festival.” So that’s what happened.

MB: This year’s theme is Mavericks. What can we expect?

RW: I wanted to try and come up with something to grow MUFF even bigger than it has so far. We wanted something that summed up what it is that we’re about and we thought the thing would be the idea of the maverick.

I was hanging out with my friend Jon Hewitt and we found a picture of  Donald Cammell, Dennis Hopper, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger. We were like “Look at those guys, bunch of mavericks!”

They’re the kind of filmmakers that we admire and it was like “Well, that’s the theme!”

MB: Why should people come to MUFF?

RW: We’re an truly independent film festival and don’t receive any government funding. We also have a reputation for our daring programming and stance on free speech. We support all forms of free speech, even unpopular speech. We support all forms of cinema and we’ve discovered some of Australia’s most interesting filmmakers.

During the first MUFF we discovered James Wan, who went on to create Saw series of films which are some of the most successful horror series in history of cinema. Along with many others, Greg Mclean who did Wolf Creek, the Spierig Brothers who went on to make the film Daybreakers.

MB: Top pick for this year’s festival?

RW: There’s always favourites, the opening night film Charlie Casanova which is like an Irish fight club. We’ve got Terry Mcman, the director out from Ireland, I highly recommend that.

A film called Bellflower, which is a really amazing American film that some people think it should have been shot in Australia. It’s about two guys who are obsessed with hotted up cars from Mad Max 2, and they wish the Apocalypse would come.

Despite the Gods, about David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer Lynch, going to make a film in Bollywood. She has a horrible time and it’s just a crazy film.

MB: What’s your vision for the future of MUFF?

RW: We’ll, we’re ambitious. Our idea is to build it up into a mini South by Southwest in Australia where we incorporate music, video games, a market and other special events.

We’re going to continue to challenge the status quo in the Australian film industry and try and create a more dynamic and fascinating film culture in this country which is exactly what we need.

MUFF 13 runs at Revolt, Kensington from Aug 24 – Sept 1.
For my information visit http://www.muff.com.au.

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