So this year I haven't done the "book a billion films and don't go home ever for two whole weeks" thing, which is my usual caper for the Melbourne International Film Festival. I have scaled down my filmgoing due to:

a) financial disincentives, namely poverty

b) health related disincentives, namely scurvy

c) mental health related disincentives, namely insanity

d) film related disincentives, namely the quality of the films last year interesting me less than they have in past years.


If one scales back, of course, the cinematic grass appears a whole lot greener, so to those peeps who find themselves bamboozled by the scale of things and don't know how to scale back, here be my advice:

1. See all Japanese live-action films that are only shown once. They will never be seen again and they are nearly always brilliant (special mention goes to their naturalistic dramas in which two people will, for example, converse on the nature of gravity while a giant twig grows slowly out of the side of one of their thighs). So far, the Japanese Film Rule has never lost me a customer.

2. See any documentary on any topic that interests you or potentially might interest you. The doccos are usually good and often on interesting topics. Sometimes, doccos are more interesting than their topics imply.

3. See, where possible: Korean, Iranian, Icelandic or American indie films that won't get distribution.

4. If you like story, avoid films described as "bleak" or "meandering". If you enjoy cinematography, book online and take popcorn.

5. Become a member. Skip the queue.


If you're going to the film festival on a full pass, may I suggest the following:

1. You know that V8 vegetable juice? Secure an intravenous drip on a pole.