The night had come to check out the MUFF’s newest venue, HOWLER. Given that it’s on the opposite side of town to me I hadn't had a chance to check it out ordinarily. And so with the festival making itself comfortable in these new digs, there was no better excuse to scope it out.
It’s a brilliant venue. From the outside it’s a regular-looking (almost dishevelled) warehouse, tucked away behind other buildings in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick… but once you walk through the open roller door it’s abundantly clear that looks can be deceiving. The décor inside this place is amazing… very modern, with a rustic twang to it. I walked through a sort of café/lounge area, which was full of people drinking spirits and sipping coffee. The bar had a constant line of people, which appeared to be moving along quickly. Towards the back of the room, through a short corridor is the theatre. I caught up with the festival curators Hussein Khoder and Reilly Archer-Whelan at the ticket box before walking through to the screening room. I was struck by how huge the room was, decked out with chairs and a large screen on the stage at front. The back of the room was lined with comfortable booths, raised above the ground. Oh and the theatre has it’s own bar (in true MUFF form, Pistonhead Larger was freely available).
Tonight was the first and second sessions of the MINI MUFF program. I arrived early (overestimated the peak hour traffic) and caught up with Richard Wolstencroft before the punter arrived. We discussed the festival and various other film related things before the people started rolling in. I had expected an attendance of about twenty or thirty people and was completely surprised (thrilled) to see the room swell very quickly. There were a few stray chairs once everyone was seated, but it was close enough to a full room. This was astonishing for a Monday night of short films and perhaps that’s a testament to the Brunswick crowd (a highly social and cultural part of Melbourne).
The lights dimmed and the films rolled. I have been to loads of short film festivals over the years and I can say, without reservation, that this was easily amongst the best I have ever attended. I really have to hand it to Hussein and Reilly. They've done an incredible job selecting these shorts, which I understand they had to whittle down from 300+.
In previous years I have done an entire breakdown of each short film and given them their own micro-reviews. I wont’ be doing that this year because the overall calibre of film is incredible. With most of them being outstanding, it wouldn't be fare to single out the one or two that weren't crash-hot. However I will list my five favourite films, which I would encourage you to track down and check out.
THE STEVEDORE – A comical story of drug dealers, henchmen and next door neighbours.
I AM FAIRY – A taut and well-written comedy with a fantastic punch line.
THE DETECTIVES OF NOIR TOWN – A hilarious and politically incorrect film noir starring puppets and humans walking the same streets.
THE BARBER’S CUT – A macabre comedy about severed bodies and reanimation.
THE MIGRANTS – A strangely absorbing experimental film using string puppets to tell the tale of a mother and child in a desolate landscape.
Suffice to say that the first night of MINI MUFF was brilliant. The audience responded really well and the mood in the room was collective. Once again, I salute Hussein and Reilly for a job very well done. I cannot wait for the next sessions of shorts and if you’re reading this in time, I urge you to get along and support these wonderful indie film-makers.