MUFF celebrates its 23rd year in this Millennium's 23rd year. It's fitting that they're in sync. For MUFF has always signaled a new dawn for filmmakers. An open door to possibilities that weren't there before.

I've recently stated that academics have killed the Australian Film Industry. People who've read many books on how to, but have done nothing. Why? Because it takes guts to enter the arena and put your neck on line, to be judged by academics. But all those serious tomes on film criticism are based on what went before. Hence, anything out of the box is hard for them to categorize.

The strength of MUFF is that it's totally independent. It doesn't take money from any government bodies. Hence, there are no political restrictions. Try getting your independent film into other Australian festivals if you haven't got a government funding logo on it. It's near impossible.

That's why MUFF is so important.

It's existence is a beacon of light for young, and not so young, independent mavericks to get their films out there, and not judged by academics in a vacuum, but by the public. MUFF has been the springboard for an impressive number of local filmmakers who've gone on to huge international successes.

Kudos must go to festival founder and director Richard Wolstencroft for keeping this festival going through thick and thin. It has been a Herculean effort at times, but both Richard and MUFF are still here, and going strong. Be bold, be brave, and, most importantly, be you.

Frank Howson - Festival Patron & Executive Producer