Pic kicks off Melbourne film festival

The world preem of “Balibo” at the July 24 Melbourne International Film Festival opening night launched what has become a very political event by Oz standards.

Cast, crew, local pollies and Timor’s prexy Jose Ramos-Horta arriving at Hamer Hall were greeted by campaigners who oppose MIFF accepting Israeli coin for a visit by the director of “$9.99” Tatia Rosenthal.

Four features have been yanked by filmmakers angered that MIFF is screening a controversial film about China’s Uighur minority and Brit filmmaker Ken Loach canceled “Looking for Eric” on account of the Israel issue.

“Balibo” star Anthony LaPaglia described making the pic last year in Oz and Timor for helmer Robert Connolly as the best professional experience of his life, while MIFF patron Geoffrey Rush gave politics a wide berth, instead delighting the 2000-strong aud with a speech parodying boffo reality skein “Masterchef” whose finale a few days before had broken television viewing records.

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