For hard-core attendees, a festival consists of four or five films a day. Films lined up back-to-back from 11am to 11.30pm leave little time to eat or sleep. It can be the closest thing to being a zombie you could get.
Then there are those who head straight home or to their hotel at 2am to write their reviews. We affectionately call them crazy.
So why put ourselves through this? The unequivocal love for film. The buzz of seeing the next potential masterpiece is the adrenalin that keeps you going.
With tickets in hand, I flew to Melbourne to conquer 10 films in four days ” a challenge I was excited to accept.
I landed in Melbourne at 11am on Friday and was at my first film at 4pm: Brian de Palma’s Passion, a lacklustre, boring pseudo trashy exercise in manipulation, murder and revenge.
‘I flew interstate for this?’ I wondered. Never mind, nine more films to make up for it.
A break allowed me time to catch up with fellow bloggers and the six of us settled in for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
The film divided the group neatly down the middle, three of us emerging with an ‘eh’ response, while the others were in awe. This is half the fun of the film festival; the diverse responses that prompt enthusiastic debate. There was more passion in our post-film conversation than the film Passion.
Next up was You’re Next, a slasher film that was a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival two years ago that was again embraced by the audience, who laughed, cheered and cringed at all the right moments. The responsive late night, horror-loving audiences were the most fun. This experience was worth the trip alone.
But those 11.30pm sessions can be killer. No time to complain though, need sleep, next film is in less than 10 hours.
Day 2 was a repeat of day 1, but without the plane ride, and an extra film added.
On day 3, I only had two films scheduled. I felt like a lightweight, but I needed a break. My energy levels were waning from the late nights.
While others endured their 12th film, I took a breather, took my time with lunch (as opposed to shovelling it in with my mind on the clock) and soaked up the sights and sounds of Melbourne CBD.
The emotionally powerful and important documentaries Stories We Tell and Blackfish proved to be festival highlights.
Day 4, Monday, was my final day and allowed for one film The East, an OK thriller about a protest group pushing moral boundaries, before jumping on a plane home, a little sad about all the films and invigorating film chatter I would miss. Attending a film festival is an endurance test. Spare a thought for those still going.
– Julian Wright travelled and stayed in Melbourne at his own expense.