As if the packed line-up for this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival wasn’t enough, the Campari Cinema Lounge is back at ACMI this year. In between catching Australian premieres, short showcases, documentaries and international features (and more), you can head to the swanky pop-up bar every day from August 4 to August 20. Alongside the pre- and post-movie tipples, there’s DJs, live entertainment and an in-house restaurant, Hero.
Karen Martini, creative food director and chef at Hero, says the lounge is a spot for moviegoers, tourists and locals alike, to pop in and mingle – whether they’ve got a film scheduled or not. “Melburnians love connecting over film and food … And I think people really appreciate that MIFF goes on for a while and you have lots of opportunities to catch a film.”
The bar is open every day from 5pm until late in the evening, with a happy hour from 5pm to 6pm. It offers a stylish retreat into a pocket of classic Euro film glamour, perfect for a quick drink and pre-film bite, or a more languorous cinema debrief over late-night repast.
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“The whole experience is designed for people to drop in, have a little snack, a Campari, catch a film, maybe then go out to dine in one of Melbourne’s great city restaurants,” says Martini. “It’s walk-in only, but it’s a huge space. You don’t necessarily have to be coming to see a film.”
Melbourne station Skylab Radio has curated a line-up of new and local DJs for the lounge, including DJ Earl Grey, DJ Jnett and Millu. No two nights will be the same, with different entertainment rotating throughout the festival. The drinks menu is a constant, though, with a selection of beers and wines plus non-alcoholic options on offer. The cocktail list includes two house Negronis, a Spritz by Hero and Martini’s beloved Americano.
“I’ve done many different Campari pop-ups over many years in Sydney and Melbourne,” she says. “I remember the first time I ever tasted it when I was very young, it took me a while to appreciate the complex bitterness. But I love Campari, and I insisted on the Americano being on this menu.”
Martini’s aperitivo menu is designed to complement and enhance the full Campari experience. “I’ve kept a very Mediterranean and Italian focus,” she says. “Everything is designed to be eaten with a snack in one hand and a Campari cocktail in the other.”
It’s a menu for all snacking styles. Lighter bites like grissini with prosciutto, ricotta and fefferoni, or a vegan arancini funghi with porcini mayonnaise are on offer. Or, go for something more substantial, like chicken and ricotta polpette studded with currant with orzo in house-made bechamel; or Roman-style pizzas by the slice, with toppings including green silverbeet, capers and smoked mozzarella.
Martini has also taken inspiration for the menu from a trip she made to Greece, with the inclusion of pomodoro popette fritti. "We’ve been ripening local tomatoes for the polpette fritti on our shelves for weeks. And I’m making these gorgeous little white figs macerated in honey and white pepper to serve with the formaggi selection,” she says.
This year, MIFF’s food and movie pairing will also return, with Hero participating. Martini and the team will host a lunch for the film Showing Up, starring Michelle Williams, with a menu designed to match the movie’s themes.
The full MIFF program is now on sale. See more information and plan your screenings.
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