Organizers said that the accompanying 37 Degrees South Market and the Accelerator Lab would also not go ahead this year.
Australia is currently in a state of lockdown in order to ensure social distancing. All cinemas are closed. When federal Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the measures at the end of March, he warned that they could be in place for six months.
The country has recorded 5,886 cases of coronavirus, with 46 deaths to date. Victoria, the state in which Melbourne is situated, has 1,158 known cases and 10 deaths.
“The thought of a winter without MIFF in our city is a disorienting one; deeply disappointing to both our organization and, I’m sure, our community,” said MIFF artistic director Al Cossar. “It is a decision that was very hard but plainly necessary, responsible and required given what we all face together at this moment.” The 2020 edition was to have run Aug. 6-23.
“In the absence of the festival this year, MIFF is considering other means of maintaining its engagement with audiences. We will share details as they become available,” Cossar said, adding that he looked forward to welcoming audiences in August 2021.
Other Australian festivals halted include the Sydney Film Festival, originally set for June, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival and the Gold Coast Film Festival.
Many parts of the Australian industry have responded by shifting online. There are now remote screenwriting courses, online resources and seminars, put together by organizations including Australians in Film and Women in Film & Television Australia.