Top 10 Tips to Fight Film Festival Flu

Sitting in poorly ventilated rooms with hundreds of people in the middle of winter is a statistical invitation to illness. Still, we flock to cinemas when film festivals hit town and with Australia’s oldest film festival, MIFF, now only a week away, it’s time to put your anti-illness plan into action. Here’s a few die-hard tips to get you started:

Vitamin C

There isn’t much time to eat or drink during MIFF and no one wants to be the jerk making all the noise rustling paper bags or crunching on loud snacks during the quiet moments of an art house flick. Vitamin C solves three problems at once; it boosts your immune system, drinking OJ or munching on a mandarin counts as sustenance and even if you’re peeling the fruit by hand, the orange family are a silent food.

Catch a Cold

The best way to build up immunity to germs is to get germs. So why not take some time out of your schedule this week to catch a cold? To maximize your germ resistance, take a crowded train carriage at peak hour, join the complaints queue in Centrelink during your lunch break or visit a bunch of strangers at your local hospital. If you decide to take option three then you might like to bring flowers – just because this endeavour is self-serving doesn’t mean you should forget your manners.

Wean Yourself Off Sleep

Start disrupting your sleeping patterns. There’s no way you’re going to get a full eight hours of down time during a festival so you might as well start weaning yourself off the good stuff. It takes the body time to adjust to a new routine and you can’t go from 8 hours to 4 without an interim if you want to avoid getting sick and burning out, so start with midnight to 7am and count down until you reach the sweet spot from 2am to 6am.

Spring Cleaning

If you’re doing a festival right then you won’t have time to clean your house while it’s on. Have a spring clean the week before which will disturb the dust mites and single cell organisms with plenty of time to contract and annihilate their antibodies, plus it will preempt and minimise fallout for when the festival ends.

Hygiene Survival Kit

You also won’t have time to do your washing, and I’m not about to suggest turning your pants inside out is okay. It isn’t. Go to Kmart, Target, Big W or Coles and buy yourself the following hygiene survival kit:

As many pants as there are days in the festival. For MIFF that’s eighteen pairs if you include opening night.

As many pairs of socks as you bought pants.

Deodorant. Obviously.

Pocket toothbrush and toothpaste. No one knows what will happen at Opening and Closing nights. But you can bet you won’t want to wake up the next day at a friend’s place or on a park bench with furry teeth.

Baby wipes. These could save your life. You’ll know what to do when the time comes.

Take Cold Showers

Start having cold showers before you leave the house. Cinemas are always over air-conditioned so you need to get used to coping with a chill factor.


Sitting in a cinema with trench foot is unpleasant and so is the wet dog smell that inevitably comes from someone’s rained on mohair coat. Buy a textile and leather waterproofing spray that will work on all materials. This way your shoes and your coat stay dry and you still smell like a human.

Watch More Movies

You plan to watch upwards of three films every day for eighteen days. It’s like running a marathon; you can’t do it without training. Every evening this week before you go to sleep (and in accordance with the alterations to your sleep patterns as outlined in point 3) increase your viewing; first to two films, then three, then four…

Thermal Underwear.


Garlic – The Failsafe

If you find steps 1 through 9 too difficult then this is the failsafe: eat a clove of raw garlic just before every session. It’s good for the immune system and NO ONE will sit next to you.

Tara Judah


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