Multiculturalism in the land of diversity

Proudly sponsored by Segmento, the Multicultural Film Festival showcases short films delving into identity and belonging in multicultural Australia.

What struck me upon my arrival in Melbourne, and possibly compelled me to choose it as my city, was the supreme melting pot of cultures and languages of its residents. Strolling about and with every breath I take, I feel art flowing in, I sense diversity in the air, and I am helplessly urged to explore and get lost in meandering.

Everything happens simultaneously in Melbourne, and if you don't pay enough attention, you'll miss out before you know it. In the colorful cauldron of this eclectic city lays a festival that seems perfectly fitting: the Multicultural Film Festival, aka MFF, an annual short film festival that explores diversity and multiculturalism through films that make us think and touch our hearts.


Now in its fourth year, proudly sponsored by Segmento (among others), MFF is a one-of-a-kind festival that looks beyond the medium of cinema to delve into the concept of identity - a concept more relevant than ever. MFF does it exceptionally through the lens of short films directed by established and up-and-coming filmmakers. Encompassing a varied set of categories (animation, fiction, nonfiction, comedy, music video), the films explore stories of cultural heterogeneity and living in multicultural Australia, and I cannot imagine a more appropriate place than Melbourne to host it.


The shortlisted and winners' films were screened at the premiere held on August 24 at ACMI. During the exclusive event, the wine, the glitz and glam, the music, the magical atmosphere enveloped the entire building, making us feel part of something noteworthy. The host comedian, Gen Fricker, gracefully accompanied us on the journey, aided by the Victorian Multicultural Commission Chairperson Vivienne Nguyen and members of Swinburne University, without whom the entire festival wouldn't exist.


Tackling a complex topic such as multiculturalism is not an easy task; but for me, two young filmmakers proved more than capable of not only fulfilling the brief but surpassing it. In Unsaid, Alex Nesic explores the struggle to communicate in an extremely heterogeneous environment, through the eyes of 6-year-old Oscar, surrounded and overwhelmed by a multilanguage family and the inability to connect. Firass Dirani's Baba (meaning Dad in Arabic) tells us the heartwarming tale of a Lebanese-Australian immigrant through the honest, frank voice of the protagonist - his childhood, his new home in Australia, and his struggles since his early years. Baba is a story of hope and ambition. Both films moved me by the complexity in their simplicity.


The winners' films will also be screened on SBS and possibly at Federation Square. If you find yourself in Marvelous Melbourne, add MFF to your wish list of things to do.