LB Travels: To the cinema, we go!

2 min read

This month, on the theme of Travel x Law, we take a peek at highlights from the 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival, also known as MIFF.

It involves travelling to different places without actually leaving your seat in the cinema. To which Mr. Burns would say:

One of the oddities of MIFF is that most events are sans popcorn, which classified as an outrage for my film companion. This involved tromping down the street to the nearest (real, ahem!) cinema to grab a box. Medium-sized, no lesser.

While my film companion is a popcorn monster, the lack of popcorn at a film venue might be MIFF thumbing its nose at anything mass market. Before one screening, a lady sitting next to me mentioned that her average rate of MIFF consumption was 25 movies. Apparently, that wasn’t the best (or worst?) metric, because she proceeded to mention how a lawyer friend of hers took a whole month off for MIFF.

Most unusual.

In any event, none of the above quips should put you off the next MIFF 2020. There were two films in particular that I particularly enjoyed from a legal lens.

Official Secrets (UK)

Based on a true story. Katharine Gun, played by Keira Knightley, was a former translator for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British intelligence agency.

In the course of her work, she was privy to an email from the US National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA sought secret and illegal help against six “swing nations” to secure a UN Security Council resolution that would justify the invasion of Iraq.

Gun leaked the email, causing a political storm and was arrested for breaking the Official Secrets Act 1989. It is worth watching for the stellar performances, including the defence lawyer’s bravery in defending Gun.

Dying to Survive (China)

Also based on a true story. Dying to Survive (the direct translation is “I am not a medicine god”) is a comedic but humane and touching movie.

The main character, a peddler of useless aphrodisiacs, finds himself smuggling generic drugs from India for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). The CML drugs sold in China were protected by a Swiss patent and inaccessible to many patients given its price.

A movie worth watching for its social commentary on income disparity, Big Pharma patents and public policy on drug (in)accessibility. And yes, mixed with a good dose of law enforcement.

Image credit // Georgia Vagim

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