Organizers of the Melbourne International Film Festival confirm the cancellation of this year’s festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Australian festival is no longer taking place from August 6-23, per an official statement Tuesday.
“The thought of a winter without MIFF in our city is a disorienting one; deeply disappointing to both our organization, and I’m sure, our community… It is a decision that was very hard but plainly necessary, responsible and required given what we all face together at this moment. Our thoughts rush to those who make MIFF what it is year after year, and what it will return to be.
To our partners, funders, venues, staff, suppliers, filmmakers and artists, volunteers, prized collaborators of all kinds, and our own uniquely MIFF audiences, we wish you safety and support; we will continue, together,” said Artistic Director Al Cossar.
MIFF’s 2019 program was the largest to date, showcasing 263 feature films, 123 shorts, and 16 virtual reality experiences. The festival also hosted a 35mm screening of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” and a special presentation of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Adam Goodes and Stan Grant’s “The Australian Dream” won the 2019 Audience Award for Documentary Feature, while Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” holds the 2019 Best Narrative Feature Award.
Amid the coronavirus, MIFF organizers are “considering other means of maintaining its engagement with audiences,” announcing further plans as they become available. As it is, Australia’s hospital systems remain underwhelmed during the crisis, with the curve of new infections flattening. Melbourne Film Festival makes the early decision to cancel as circumstances prove to be a battle for both the country to heal, and fest organizers to reevaluate.