The Melbourne Underground Film Festival needs no introduction. You may have landed on this article by clicking a link or perhaps you already follow us... whatever the case you probably already love MUFF. For the past 15 years filmmaker Richard Wolstencroft and his motley horde of minions have been dishing up festival after festival of alternative cinema. From low budget independent arthouse films to hardcore horror flicks and everything in between. With controversy in their wake and salivating cult movie-lovers at their disposal MUFF has forged an important and valuable platform for subversive cinema in Melbourne.
This year MUFF is embracing the crowd funding set-up and seeking help from those they love most... their fans. With a tantalising and confronting program on its way and special guests including legendary underground filmmaker Nick Zedd, the special Indiegogo campaign is in its final days and needs your help. For the love of bold & daring cinema and a FUCK YOU gesture to the mainstream you should climb on board the MUFF train and lend them your support. A little goes a long way.
This September I will be presenting a series of MUFF Diaries detailing my own experience at the festival and sharing my thoughts on the films and events they showcase. In the mean time I recently spoke with MUFF's assistant director & shorts programmer Hussain Khoder and fired off a few questions about this years festival.
Hussein, tell us a bit about this year's MUFF.
This year is the 15th year the festival and its going to be a great one. We have a great team behind us who help out with the festival and their contributions are going to help make this MUFF one of the best.
This year's theme is 'Evolve or Die'. Can you elaborate on that?
The same droll types of films have been made over and over and they're killing the industry. With new mediums and ways to make films the theme of Evolve Or Die is a message that the industry needs to embrace. Australia can make great films and but unless we evolve with new trends and ports of delivery things are set to look very dire.
This year MUFF moves to the new Backlot Studios. What do you think this adds to MUFF?
Since the Backlot is a smaller venue then what we had last year it means we are scaling down the festival but that, in turn, means that the quality of films will be a lot higher. The Backlot is an amazing venue and I've been there many times. I am really glad that MUFF is going to be held their year. It's exciting.
Looking back over the years, what has MUFF meant to Melbourne?
MUFF has been supporting local & indie filmmakers for the past 14 years. It's been a place where filmmakers can come and get their films screened when few others will support their content. It has been a festival that has produced some of the biggest filmmakers to come out of Australlia such as James Wan, Greg McLean and Patrick Hughes. It has become a community where filmmakers can come and network with other filmmakers & actors and fans can interact also.
What should people expect this year?
The same thing they should expect at every MUFF. GREAT FILMS, great people and just an awesome atmosphere. We always show the best of independent cinema and always try to shock the audience as much as possible. We have amazing local filmmakers attending and presenting their films. So if you haven’t been to MUFF then you must. It will be a great year for an introduction.
Tell us about the Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.
Because MUFF is a small independent festival we rely on donations, sponsorship and support from the fans. We needed some decent funding to bring guests down this year and we've been impressed with various other crowdfunding campaigns. So we thought we would give it a go. We have some great rewards on offer including masterclasses, dinner with Richard and other cool stuff. Check it out.
This year you are looking to bring Nick Zedd to the festival. What can you tell us about Nick and his role in this years festival?
Nick Zedd is an underground filmmaker from New York City and has been making films since the late 70s. His films feature extreme violence and black humour, which make him the perfect guest for MUFF.
Nick will be screening some of his films, which will also feature a Q&A. He will also be doing a masterclass and tickets to that can be purchased through the Indiegogo campaign.
What can you tell us about the short-film component of the festival this year?
The short film side of the festival has always been interesting and loads of filmmakers have caught their break through these shorts. It's always great seeing amazing projects come through the festival. There have been times when I've seen a short and think to myself “this person has a massive career ahead of them”. Last year we played around 80-90 shorts and will play the same amount this year. I'm still programming the shorts but so far they're some of the best I've seen. Everyone should make time for these this year.
When can people expect to see the program released?
We are currently in the process putting it together but the program should be released in early August.
What have been some of your personal favourite MUFF memories over the years?
There have been loads but my personal favourite memory is back in 2012 when we had Crispin Glover as a guest. Crispin was such a colourful character and he was great to talk to. He also gave me some solid advice about my own film-making. Other MUFF highlights over the years have included guests such as Troma's Lloyd Kaufman, Bruce La Bruce, Bret Easton Ellis, William Lustig, Ron Jeremy and Michael Tierney.
MUFF 2014 assaults our senses this September. Support their campaign and stay tuned for more updates, exclusives and interviews.