Monday, August 17, 2015

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

Spanning just over two weeks, from the 30th of July to the 16th of August, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) showcases a diverse array of films from all over the world. A yearly event that began in 1952, the festival provides a rare opportunity to see a myriad of films, both locally grown and international, on the big screen.

While I've been intending to see a film at the MIFF for the last couple of weeks, it wasn't until the final day of the festival that I got around to seeing a Melbourne-made film called Ecco Homo at ACMI.

Before seeing the film, my boyfriend Jared and I went to a New York themed cafe in the city called Bowery to Willamsburg. We had to wait around on milk crates for around fifteen minutes beforehand, but the wait was worth it as the food was delicious. 

Inside we were seated at a grey tiled communal table, where we sat alongside each other and read the Time Out magazine that was available to read. Jared ordered a Mexican coca cola and I had my usual cappuccino (which came with Hershey's chocolate!). Admittedly,  I swore off coffee for about two days but I keep on coming back as I don't seem to enjoy life as much without it.  

Instead of the typical brunch fare that most cafes serve, Bowery to Williamsberg offered something different which I respected as I'm slowly boring of the traditional options available for brunch.

Jared ordered the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich with the added option of Mac and Cheese, a pickle and pretzels for $5, and I ordered the Cuban Braised Pork, but was actually given the lesser variation of it in a sandwich. It's an easy mistake to make though, and the brioche bun, although oh so fattening, more than made up for this error. Jared has a habit of always ordering the better meal, and once again his dish won out, giving me meal envy most of the brunch date.

I really liked this cafe and if I ever need to have brunch in the city, I trust Bowery to Willamsburg to soothe my Sunday woes.

After the meal we had a (very short) walk to ACMI, where we went to see the film Ecco Homo, about an enigmatic and celebrated Melbourne figure named Peter Vanessa "Troy" Davies. A man whose life was full of chaos and melancholia, but also a great desire to create and perform. The documentary didn't conform to the typical documentary format, and that made it all the more captivating.

Combining interviews from "witnesses" of Troy, personal home footage that Troy himself had created for the documentary before his death from HIV in 2009, new footage to reenact instances of Troy's life and personal photos of Troy and his family, the documentary alternated different forms of storytelling to create Ecco Homo. The film explored Troy as person, his various developmental stages to become "Troy" as well as the nuances in how he was defined and perceived by those that knew him.

Ecco Homo was an eloquently told film that prompted me to reconsider my own relationships with others and the secrets that their own lives may hold. As quoted in the film, "Illusion is the first of all pleasures" (Oscar Wilde) and this premise is explored through the complex unravelling of Troy's life, and the exploration of the personas he constructed to create various versions of himself. 

It is so easy to simplify people's lives and to assume that they live without any problems or secrets, but you will never, in most circumstances, know what darkness lies within.

It was a thought provoking film and I'm really glad Jared introduced me too it. That is the beauty of MIFF, watching and being exposed to films and concepts that you might over wise never have been aware of.