Saturday, March 10, 2012

Melbourne Free University

The Melbourne Free University is an opportunity for people who want a little more from a film night than they get from the local multi. The often rare movies are given with a little extra context and thought, screened and then everyone is invited to share their own thoughts. It's a means of connecting with current thinking on cinema without the papers and extension begs.

While I did wince at the recent cancellation of Richard Wolstencroft's scheduled talk through the pressure of a flock of geese (the talk went ahead at another venue and was a pleasure to experience), I believe the idea of the MFU is a great one and provides an opportunity to engage with movies in a way that is mostly not on offer.

Here is the publicity spiel: 

The Melbourne Free University (MFU) is an autonomous organisation that was established in 2010, and aims to create a space for constructive engagement with ideas and knowledge for its own sake, rather than the more outcome-oriented education of the formal education system. We are completely free and open - anyone can attend sessions regardless of their qualifications, and we do not take enrolments. The MFU runs regular courses on topics ranging from political philosophy, to permaculture and sustainability, to indigenous issues, refugee issues, law, politics, cinema, linguistics, literature and more. Further information about the MFU can be found at

Since February, 2012 the MFU has been running a cinema course called 'Controversies on Film,' which runs on Thursday evenings from 6.30-8.30pm at Long Play in North Fitzroy. Each session includes a screening, a lecture and an open discussion. Unlike most other film screenings that are currently being held in Melbourne, the Controversies on Film course provides an opportunity for academics, filmmakers and others to give a substantial talk on an area of interest or research and for the general public to not only see rare or seminal cinema but also discuss and debate issues pertinent to each week's presentation. 

On March 15, author and editor Rjurick Davidson will look at films such as Blade Runner and Dark City to examine the ways that screenplays and narratives are constructed in the film industry. He will particularly focus on how some of the 'exercises' suggested for scriptwriters, in conjunction with the process of getting a movie made, tend to create a certain kind of film. On March 22, Jack Sargeant, author of books such as Deathtripping: The Extreme Underground, will show a number of rare clips and extracts to examine the role of sex, perversion and the annihilating gaze in cinema. Sargeant is a key intellectual figure writing on underground and cult cinema and in this presentation he will show us how we can re-think about the nature of film viewing. Finally, on March 29, program coordinator of the Melbourne Cinematheque Louise Sheedy, will show Haskel Wexler's groundbreaking Medium Cool (1969) to discuss how the social and political upheavals of 1968 manifested in American cinema. 

For further details or to organise an interview please contact Tyson Namow at 

And Ladies and Gentlemen, start your browsers: the MFU website.

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