The 10th Melbourne Underground Film Festival came to a close last night with an awards ceremony and after-party packed to the rafters with local and international filmmakers and screen representatives.

The prestigious award for Best Australian Film was a tie, the honour being shared by ‘Into the Shadows’, Andrew Scarano and Phil Hignett’s opening night documentary on the state of the Australian film industry, and ‘Eraser Children’, Nathan Christoffel’s astonishing feature debut which is set in a futuristic dystopia. ‘Eraser Children’ also received an award for Best Supporting Male Actor (Shane Nagle).

Marc Gracie’s ‘The Tumbler’, which closed MUFF X, picked up a series of awards for Best Director, Runner-up Best Australian Film, Best Cinematography and Best Lead Male Actor (Gary Sweet).

Dominic Deacon’s ‘Bad Habits’ – the Nunsploitation feature debut from Melbourne production company Dank Films – was awarded Best Screenplay as well as Best Lead Female Actor (Sandra Casa).

The award for Best Guerilla Film (previously won by James Wan of ‘Saw’) went to Dave de Vries’ ‘Carmilla Hyde’, a full length Jekyll and Hyde feature made on a $15,000 budget which sold out its high-profile MUFF X premiere last week.

MUFF X’s diverse selection of shorts also received attention, with the top award for Best Short being tied between Marina Lutz’s ‘The Marina Experiment’ – a confronting autobiographical documentary about child abuse, and Jennifer Lyon Bell’s ‘Matinee’, which was controversially banned from screening by the OFLC last week.

International films also garnered praise at this year’s awards; Dan Schneidkraut’s disturbing ‘Seeking Wellness’ took out the Special Jury Prize, while Alex Ross Perry’s ‘Impolex’, a surreal WWII picture shot on 16mm, received the award for Best International Film. The award for Best Foreign Director went to Zach Clark for his cult comedy ‘Modern Love is Automatic’.

Here is the full list of winners:

Lifetime Achievement - Frank Howson & John La Monde

Best Australian Film - 'Into the Shadows' & 'Eraser Children'
Runner Up Best Australian Film - 'The Tumbler'
Best Australian Director - Marc Gracie (The Tumbler)
Best Australian Male Actor - Gary Sweet (The Tumbler)
Best Australian Female Actor - Sandra Casa (Bad Habits) & Kristen Condon (The Beautiful & Damned)
Best Supporting Male Actor - Shane Nagle (Eraser Children)
Best Supporting Female Actor - Georgii Speakman (Carmilla Hyde)

Special Jury Prize - 'Seeking Wellness - Suffering in Four Movements'
Special Jury Prize (Short) - 'Herman: Am I Proud'
Best Guerrilla Film - 'Carmilla Hyde'
MUFF Producers Award - Prey - Robert Galinsky & Elizabeth Howatt-Jackman
Best Documentary - 'The Nigel Diaries' & 'Burn City'
Best Cinematography - Justin Brickle (The Tumbler)
Best Screenplay - Jack Ketchum (Offspring) & Dominic Deacon (Bad Habits)
Best Short - 'The Marina Experiment' & 'Matinee'
Runner Up Best Short - 'Higher Plane'

Best Foreign Film - 'Impolex'
Best Foreign Director - Zach Clark (Modern Love Is Automatic)
Best Foreign Male Actor - Riley O'Brien (Impolex)
Best Foreign Female Actor - Melodie Sisk (Modern Love Is Automatic)



MUFF X - Tickets

All MUFF X tickets are available at the door prior to session starting. Click here to check out prices.



OFLC bans 'Matinée' at MUFF

Today the Melbourne Underground Film Festival received knowledge that the OFLC has placed a ban upon the screening of Jennifer Lyon Bell’s ‘Matinée’ as part of the ‘Mini Muff’ shorts session. MUFF wishes to oppose this decision on two grounds.

Firstly, the decision negates the artistic merits of the film. While graphically sexual, ‘Matinée’ is a picture which embodies many of the qualities which should be sought after in high quality artistic filmmaking. The lead performances are strong and memorable, and the direction and production design work twofold, both ensuring a subtle, entirely naturalistic feel, and a highly stylized, enigmatic and atmospheric world, the likes of which is often attempted in independent cinema but rarely so deftly achieved.

Secondly, and most importantly, MUFF opposes the OFLC’s decision on the grounds that it represents a hypocritical and troubling suppression of transgressive female-centric sexuality on film. The modus operandi of Blue Artichoke Films, Bell’s production company, is to create films which portray realistic sexual intimacy, depict empowered female characters, possess artistic merit and strong narratives, and do not fall back upon the damaging and often dangerous stereotypes of female sexuality that the Western media is accustomed to. In other words, Bell is looking to produce films about sexuality which women can enjoy, free of masculine control.

It is outrageous that the OFLC has sought fit to ban ‘Matinée’ for the sole reason that it depicts actual sex. The sex depicted in the film, while real, is set within a relationship based on love and mutual desire. What we see in ‘Matinée’ is two consenting adults (characters, not porn clichés, with a deep and complex established relationship) making love. That is all. Nowhere in this film do we see any violence, sexual abuse, cruelty or malice; we merely see the intimacy which occurs between loving partners every day in real life. The fact that this depiction is considered to be too disturbing for an adult audience, and yet films which depict shocking and graphic violence and/or sexual abuse (yes, simulated, but made to look and feel real) are passed by the OFLC, is unacceptable.

Lars Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ was recently passed by the OFLC for the Melbourne International Film Festival. This film depicts extremely high levels of sexual violence and genital mutilation, and encourages a phallocentric vision in its audience that touches on the idea that women are inherently evil. ‘Matinée’ depicts actual sex between two adults in a loving and consenting partnership, and significantly it focuses on the importance of women’s pleasure in sexual intimacy, and presents a remarkably strong female lead. Passing ‘Antichrist’ but banning ‘Matinée’ reveals a tendency in the OFLC to suppress films which strengthen female sexuality on screen and to allow films which encourage view that female sexuality is damaged, fractured or violent.

There have been cases in the recent past wherein films depicting graphic actual sex within realistic, emotionally-toned and non-violent settings have been granted passage by the OFLC (MUFF points to ‘Shortbus’ as one example), and MUFF asks only that the same considerations are granted to Bell’s ‘Matinee’, as not repealing their decision will brand the OFLC hypocritical, suppressive, and worryingly anti-women.

A Letter from the Filmmaker Jennifer Lyon Bell:

To the OFLC:

I’m disappointed and puzzled by your decision not to allow my film Matinée to screen at this year’s Melbourne Underground Film Festival.

The sexual relationship portrayed by the characters Mariah and Daniel in Matinée is not only a consensual, emotional and nuanced relationship, but their sex plays an important role in the story of the film. The story is not tacked on to the sex; rather, the story has everything to do with the way the characters continue to communicate nonverbally throughout the entire sex scene. This nonverbal sexual communication is, at least according to the feedback on the film so far, an important part of why Matinée is seen by festival programmers as different from most of the other films they’ve seen this year.

I’d also like to point out that certain elements of the sex in Matinée —such as the inclusion of safer-sex techniques made crucial to the storyline —create a more responsible depiction of sex than one frequently sees in either mainstream or art films, in which characters usually throw sexual caution to the wind under the guise of romance.

I hope this letter addresses whatever concerns you may have had about my film, but of course if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me through the Festival.

With respectful regards,

Jennifer Lyon Bell
Director, “Matinée”
Blue Artichoke Films



MUFF X – MUFF ATTACKS – is here!

The Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) is back to celebrate MUFF X – the festival’s
prestigious tenth year of championing alternative cinema in Melbourne. MUFF is thrilled to
announce its highly anticipated 2009 lineup and full schedule of events.

MUFF X will run from Saturday August 22nd until Sunday August 30th.
This year’s venues will be Noise, Loop, Glitch, and the Embassy (the old QBH).

Opening night at the newly converted Embassy will deliver Into the Shadows – a fascinating
and important documentary about the state of this country’s film industry and the challenges
faced by Australian independent cinema throughout the past century. It features interviews
by Rolf De Heer (The Tracker), George Miller (Mad Max), Andrew Denton, and many more film
practitioners and representatives.

The 2009 festival programmers are proud to present a selection of exciting and provocative
pictures from interstate, overseas, and many from the festival’s home town of Melbourne.
MUFF may be the only chance Melbourne audiences will have to see many of these films.

Local highlights include Sleeper – a thriller starring wrestler Scott ‘Raven’ Levy as a mute
serial killer with an aversion to daylight, Eraser Children, an ambitious and absorbing sci-fi
flick set in a futuristic dystopia, and Carmilla Hyde, a darkly seductive twist on the traditional
Jekyll & Hyde story. International highlights include Impolex, the bizarre story of a WWII soldier
in search of undetonated German missiles, and Modern Love is Automatic, a comedy about an apathetic
nurse who moonlights as a dominatrix.

MUFF X will also feature a variety of special events including a focus on legendary 1950s and 60s
horror director William Castle, a world-first retrospective on 1980s cult hero/demon Wings Hauser,
and special screenings of the early films of Leni Riefenstahl, German leading lady of the 1920s
who went on to direct the infamous propaganda piece Triumph of the Will for Adolf Hitler.

Added to this lineup is the return of Mini Muff, one of MUFF’s most popular yearly events,
wherein the festival showcases the best short films from Australia and from overseas.
Over 50 short films have been selected for the 2009 lineup, including local thriller Out,
starring Rob Rabiah (Chopper, Underbelly), and The Marina Experiment – a confronting
autobiographical film from New York featuring original music by Mick Harvey of the Bad Seeds.

These are but a few of the treats MUFF X has in store for Melbourne audiences this August.
The complete program is now available in venues and stores across the city.