Melbourne International Film Festival is the leading film festival in Australia. This not-for-profit organization has been running since 1952, making it one of the world’s oldest film festivals. They present a global program of innovative screen experiences and the world’s largest showcase of exceptional Australian filmmaking. MIFF is an iconic cultural event that provides a transformative experience for audiences and filmmakers alike. Their mission is to bring you the story of the world through an unforgettable screen experience.
Following the introduction of local Covid-19 restrictions, MIFF was forced to cancel their physical events. They had to quickly think of an alternative way of showing their iconic festival to their loyal attendees. So Artistic Director Al Cossar and his team developed an innovative idea, ‘MIFF 68 ½’, a reimagined celebration of the film online. In order to achieve this virtual experience while keeping the ‘togetherness’ feel for their city, the festival needed a platform that could host a large number of attendees and provide their audience with a flawless streaming experience, all while keeping the spirit of their festival alive. They also needed to find a platform that would ensure the security of their content. After fellow film festivals had to make this extraordinary change and had several positive results, choosing Shift72 was a no-brainer.
“Nothing quite matches the power of cinema to transport, inspire and uplift, and we are thrilled to be able to bring the spirit of the festival into the homes of MIFF audiences at a time when working to keep a connection to the arts has never been more vital.”
Shift72’s platform allowed the largest film festival in the Southern Hemisphere to keep the spirit alive by providing their audiences with the chance to purchase festival bundles. This feature permitted MIFF to create a series of personalized film collections for their opening and closing night under a single price to their customers, so that the festival spirit of bouncing from one film to the next remained intact. The MIFF team also thought of a creative way of providing customers with a meal when purchasing the bundle, with Chin Chin Melbourne and Chandon restaurants creating a range of meals to choose from. These meals were then delivered to customers on the opening and closing nights of the film festival.
Shift72 had already made a name for itself in providing premium security with features such as studio-grade DRM, concurrent streaming restrictions, proxy detection, and both visible and forensic watermarking. MIFF took advantage of these features and was one of the first clients to use forensic watermarking on their content. Forensic watermarking allows festivals to embed a non-removal, invisible watermark in their content to deter criminals from employing screen capture methods to copy content illegally. This allows filmmakers and festivals a level of comfort so they don’t have to worry about the safety of the content.
"We wanted to do something that was true to the spirit of the festival regardless of whether that was physically or in the digital space, and the technical qualities of Shift72’s platform; its content security qualities, adaptability in a home viewership setting, and determination to help and support us redefine a nearly 70-year-old festival in a completely new space was immensely valued by our team, our rightsholders and film partners."
MIFF 68 ½ was heralded as the most attended Melbourne International Film Festival ever. The festival registered over 205,000 streams and estimates that the overall audience exceeded 300,000 for the 17-day event. By having an online platform, MIFF was able to extend its reach to audiences outside the state. Audiences had been predominantly Victorian, but 20 percent tuned in from outside the state.
These statistics proved that despite the challenges of having to reinvent one of the world’s largest film festivals to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, there would be a phenomenal outcome that would change the way festivals and cinemas showcase films.“It is heartening to see the simple, resilient truth, that stories, whether viewed on a big screen or in your living room, still connect and compel us, perhaps more than ever.” The festival’s free content, representing 36 percent of the line-up, helped contribute to the overall big numbers, and Box office numbers have been surpassed.
In 2020, Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) was faced with a set of terrible circumstances, those that every festival has chosen to face in their own way. Our choice, and our solution was Shift72. The platform, and the team at Shift, enabled us to reimagine the Southern Hemisphere's largest film festival as a fully digital season within a four-month turnaround of our intended start date.
The digital festival, which we dubbed MIFF 68 1/2 (delivered between our 69th and 70th seasons), was ultimately highly successful, delivered against the odds, and valued by a broader audience reach than ever before. Shift72 was instrumental in MIFF navigating a unique and incredibly challenging set of circumstances, sustaining ourselves to audiences, and doing so in a manner that was true to the heart of what we do as a festival”. - Al Cosser