SYN Reviews: ‘Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening’ MIFF Screening


Now Sound: Melbourne’s Listening

Melbourne International Film Festival Screening

Words by Chelsea King.

Passes provided by publicists.


Encapsulating Melbourne’s diverse and intricate music scene within 90 minutes is no easy feat, but filmmaker Tobias Willis managed to do just that. Willis’ documentary premiered at MIFF last weekend to a sold out reception at The Forum. If you’ve attended a live music event in the last two or three years you’ve most likely spotted Willis with his bulky camera trying to blend in to the crowd. Willis attempted to make a speech before the film but it was stifled by tears. It was clear to anyone in the audience just how much passion this song director held. To watch years of footage come together seamlessly was a magical moment.


Willis managed to highlight a plethora of indispensable roles within the music industry, with interviews from record store owners, audio producers, label managers, radio personalities, venue owners, bookers and of course, artists. It was comforting to see familiar faces on the screen, and to learn about others who play an integral part within the scene. Each interview differed character and perspective, however all were united by their love of music.


A clear highlight of the film was Jen Cloher’s interview, the audience agreeing with applause after every one of her replies. Cloher has been a steadfast voice for reason regarding struggles women face within the industry. During her chat she reminds the audience that the scene is slowly shifting and that there are more spaces opening up for those who are not cis white males. A refreshing perspective to see on the big screen.


One of the only possible criticisms of this film is that it perhaps at times felt quite amateur, but that is indeed, what makes Melbourne’s music scene so wonderful. It was a nod to the love Melbourne has for underground and self-made music. The city will undoubtedly provide a stage and an audience for any type of live performance on any day of the week.


After touching on many of the struggles within the music industry, namely the lack of money, the film left the audience with an overwhelming sense of hope. Now Sound somehow manages depict what it is exactly that makes the scene in Melbourne so utterly unique. Sometimes Melbourne’s love of music is simply illogical; sticky carpets and hot sweaty rooms, albeit it becomes apparent throughout the narrative exactly how live music unites us all, no matter our differences. If you’re involved in Melbourne’s music scene in any way, or even just a fan, then this documentary was created for you.