With a sensational lead-in to the 16th Melbourne Underground Film Festival the opening night went off with a bang. Addison Heath's trippy debut feature film UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE attracted a full house and made the audience VERY happy (no hallucinogenics required).
As with any event at The Backlot Studios I always give myself plenty of time to get there. I travel from the outer eastern suburbs and crossing the inner city traffic on any given night is a challenge, let alone a Friday night during peak hour. My run in was surprisingly light and I made it to the venue in record time. It was far too early to wander in, however the MUFF crew were way ahead of me and I decided to venture in regardless. I was immediately hit with a free beer from the festival's main sponsor, Pistonhead Larger, and before long the punters started to file in.
My two FakeShemp.Net compadres (Jarret & Shaun) arrived with Andrew Leavold (The Search for Weng Weng) and Jesse Breckon-Thomas (The Screaming Meanies) in tow and within minutes the foyer was swelling with people. The atmosphere was full of energy and everyone was in good spirits for an opening night of great independent cinema and lots of socialising.
At 8 o'clock everyone filed into the cinema. The turnout was such that once the room was full, the remaining people were directed back to the foyer/lounge, where the film would be screening simultaneously. Festival director Richard Wolstencroft addressed the room and welcomed every one along to MUFF16. He was in good spirits and set the mood for the night before bringing Iconic Melbourne film maker Frank Howson (Hunting, Flynn) to the front. Frank spoke to the room and offered words of wisdom and advice to all of the creatives who were in attendance. He made a similar elocution last year and having him do it again was a very nice touch.
The lights dimmed and the pre-film advertisements rolled. We had a new FakeShemp.Net ad this year and the three of us were chuffed to see our ugly mugs projected in glorious super-sized hi-res... hopefully it will inspire a few people to get clicking and visit our website.
The first short film off the rank was Matthew Victor Pastor's VALENTINE'S DAYS. If you're not familiar with Pastor's work then he is a talent that I highly recommend you keep an eye on. This film was cut from the same cloth as his previous feature film MADE IN AUSTRALIA and presented similarly dark and almost seedy quality, where he digs beneath the surface of ordinary every-day things and looks for the underlying secrets and perversions. The audience responded well, albeit unsure what they had just seen (in a good way).
Next up was Stuart Simpsons BABY DID A BAT BAT THINGS. This was his entry into the ABCS OF DEATH competition a couple of years ago, which he has since re-tweeked into its own stand-alone short. It's a chaotic, action-packed shoot-em up story about an invasion of bat-like aliens who meet their match when two gun-slingin' rock n rollers roll up and take aim. It's a super fun, highly energetic piece of shlock that had the entire room captivated.
And then there was UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE. We have covered this film inside and out at Fakeshemp.Net and so I needn't go into detail with the synopsis. Suffice to say that we are HUGE fans of Addison Heath. We LOVE what he does and regard him as one of Melbourne's champion indie filmmakers. To consider him a mate is a true honour. The audience loved the film too and the after show drinks attested to that. High praise was on everyone's lips, with actress Kristen Condon receiving a whole lot of love from just about everyone.
And so MUFF16 if off and racing. It's already shaping up to be one of its best years yet and with an entire week's worth of schedule ahead, it's going to be one hell of a journey. Tickets are on sale and we encourage everyone to get along. Be part of an important cultural movement and engage in some truly original and audacious cinema.
Visit MUFF.COM.AU for all festival info and ticket sales.