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2018 Melbourne International Film Festival

The first bumper reveal of the 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) was announced recently with the news that its 67th outing will open with the Australian premiere gala screening of Paul Dano’s directorial debut Wildlife – starring Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal and Australia’s Ed Oxenbould. The First Glance selection of 32 films demonstrating MIFF’s expansive reach was also uncovered.

Based on the 1990 Richard Ford novel of the same name, Dano’s debut directorial outing (co-written by Zoe Kazan, seen alongside Dano at MIFF’s 2012 Ruby Sparks) tells a tender and empathetic story about a teen dealing with his family falling apart in 1960s Montana.

A hit at Sundance and Cannes, Wildlife is a bittersweet and elegant debut that represents a major coming-of-age – both off screen and on – for Oxenbould, an actor who broke out in MIFF 2014’s Paper Planes and last year’s MIFF Premiere Fund-supported The Butterfly Tree. Buoyed by exquisite cinematography from Diego Garcia (Neon Bull, MIFF 2016; Cemetery of Splendour, MIFF 2015) the film’s fine-tuned attention to period detail underscores its exceptional performances.

“We are thrilled to announce Wildlife for this year’s Opening Night Gala. Paul Dano’s debut as a director provides a glimpse into a successful shift in his career from on screen to off, and the cast including Australia’s very own Ed Oxenbould (a special name here at MIFF) is an impressive way to kick off proceedings,” said MIFF’s Artistic Director Michelle Carrey.

“This in addition to the sneak peek of the rest of the program is an exciting time. Finally we can start talking about the most important thing…the films!”

This year’s blue carpet glamour will mark the third consecutive year that MIFF has partnered with Grey Goose to curate a luxury experience at the Regent Theatre for the Opening Night Gala. MIFF guests will be welcomed to the event to sip the iconic Grey Goose Le Fizz – a celebratory cocktail served at the top award season parties and enjoyed by celebrities at events such as the Oscars and Toronto International Film Festival.

“Celebrating the achievements of the screen industry aligns with the values of Grey Goose, as we consider film to be of significant cultural importance and one of our key brand pillars. We’re very proud to be solidifying the Melbourne International Film Festival partnership for the third year to recognise and celebrate this shared interest. The festival attracts the best filmmaking talent and we’re truly honoured to help acknowledge those who celebrate a life well lived. We look forward to welcoming guests to MIFF 2018, to toast the films of the festival on our blue carpet, with a beautifully crafted Grey Goose Le Fizz cocktail. Grey Goose Le Fizz is shaken over ice with St-Germain elderflower liqueur, a squeeze of fresh lime and topped with soda,” said Jonathan Sully, Marketing Director, Bacardi-Martini.

This year’s MIFF program will feature more than 500+ screenings. Ahead of the full program announcement on Tuesday 10 July, a selection of some of the most anticipated screen works of the year and best in international and local cinema includes:

First Glance highlights

Ethan Hawke features with both on and off-screen contributions: he portrays a troubled priest experiencing a ‘crisis of faith’ in cinematic legend Paul Schrader’s latest feast of brooding menace, First Reformed; in Blaze, Hawke directs a daringly unconventional biopic of an unsung country music legend, featuring newcomer Benjamin Dickey in the title role (which won him a Sundance acting award) and Alia Shawkat.

Chloë Grace Moretz turns in a career-best performance in Desiree Akhavan’s sophomore feature The Miseducation of Cameron Post, winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize (US Dramatic); Cannes 2017 best actor winner Joaquin Phoenixfeatures in Lynne Ramsay’s vengeance feature You Were Never Really Here, playing a war vet and ex-FBI agent whose new job includes rescuing children from paedophile rings; meanwhile, Bodied is the result of an unlikely pairing between Grammy-winning director Joseph Kahn and rapper turned producer Eminem who present their satirical story about an accidental battle-rap star.

In a variety of filmmaking firsts, acclaimed TV director Michael Pearce makes his feature debut in the sly, unsettling Beast – an impressive British crime drama love story wrapped in an intriguing psychosexual thriller; veteran slow-cinema auteur Tsai Ming-liang makes his debut foray into virtual reality with The Deserted, a 55-minute experience with a wordless, near-feature length tale of ghosts, grief and fish; and a little closer to home, Nash Edgerton’s TV series directorial debut Mr Inbetween brings The Magician’s charismatic killer-for-hire Ray Shoesmith back to our screens. MIFF will screen all six episodes before its television premiere on Foxtel’s Showcase channel.

Famous faces

The 2018 program delves deep into three iconic names spanning fashion, sport and Hollywood, starting with McQueen, a flamboyant portrait of one of the world’s most revered designers, Alexander McQueen – a man who once said “My shows are about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It’s for the excitement and the goosebumps. I want heart attacks. I want ambulances.” This biographical documentary by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui represents nothing less.

Julien Faraut’s John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection serves up a fascinating combination of instructional clips and exquisite 16mm footage of tennis bad boy John McEnroe at the height of his career at the 1984 French Open; and looking into the life of another legend, Tommy Avallone’s Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man follows the trail of the star’s alleged appearances musing on the interconnection of pop culture and ordinary life.

Internationally recognised award winners

An Elephant Sitting Still takes us on a four-hour journey as Hu Bo paints a compelling, empathetic portrait of contemporary China in this FIPRESCI Prize-winning debut; and winner of SXSW’s Grand Jury Prize for documentary, People’s Republic of Desire is Hao Wu’s unsettling and fascinating look into the online world of live-streaming, social media and virtual relationships.

Turning impending loss into a poignant, poetic dreamscape, The Seen and Unseen is the second feature from Indonesia’s Kamila Andini and winner of best youth film at the 2017 Asia Pacific Screen Awards; Tigers Are Not Afraid is a stunning contemporary fairytale that does for Mexico’s drug war what Guillermo del Toro did for the Spanish Civil War. Praised by Stephen King, the film saw Issa López become the first woman to win Fantastic Fest’s Best Horror Director award.

Denmark’s Gustav Möller makes his directorial debut with the Sundance and Rotterdam award-winning The Guilty, an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller told entirely in real time.

Features from around the globe

The UK’s Daniel Kokotajlo makes a devastating debut with Apostasy, a daring study of an all-female Jehovah’s Witness family riven by religious conflict starring Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey and Happy Valley); Babis Makridis proves he is coming into his own as a star with a second feature, Pity. A follow up to L (MIFF 2012), the quintessentially bleak and absurdist Greek New Wave comedy from the co-writer of The Lobster and Dogtooth was co-written with Yorgos Lanthimos’ key collaborator Efthymis Filippou (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, MIFF 2017).

Irreverent Iranian director Mani Haghighi (A Dragon Arrives! MIFF 2016) presents his latest meta-comedy magic, Pig – a riotous Iranian film industry satire about a serial killer; and Vivian Qu continues to interrogate crime, corruption and control in modern-day China in Angels Wear White, which won her the Best Director award at the Golden Horse Film Festival.

Based on Anna Seghers’ WWll novel of the same name, Transit is the slow-burn thriller from revered auteur Christian Petzold – a discomfiting fable of trans-European displacement that channels both Hitchcock and Casablanca; and one of contemporary cinema’s most esteemed directors Lucrecia Martel makes her long-awaited return with the historical fiction Zama, centred on an 18th-century Spanish magistrate marooned in a far-flung South American outpost where he’s losing touch with civilisation and sanity.

Spaghetti Western, ’70s Euro-pulp and delirious psychedelia collide in Let the Corpses Tan – a glorious homage to cinema’s seedier retro fringes from genre connoisseursHélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani; audiences will step back in time to the French fashion scene with legendary fashion photographer William Klein’s award-winning black and white mockumentary that is now a groovy cult classic, Who are you, Polly Maggoo? and nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Academy Awards,The Insult is the multi-award winning new work from Lebanese visionary Ziad Doueiri(The Attack, MIFF 2012).

Homemade highlights

Delving into the complex emotions of passionate pop-music appreciation, emerging local director Jessica Leski presents I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story – an empathetic documentary exploring why we hold pop music so dear to our hearts.

The NSFA-restored The Cheaters offers viewers a rare big-screen treat of a pioneering silent-era classic. A major landmark of Australian cinema, this is not just one of our earliest feature films – it’s one of the first by women filmmakers, the McDonagh sisters. The remaining fragments of the sisters’ popular first feature Those Who Love will screen alongside.

An exhilarating debut feature from Australian director Jason Raftopoulos, the Venice-premiering West of Sunshine stars Pawno’s Damian Hill alongside his real-life step-son Ty Perham and Offspring’s Kat Stewart (Sucker, MIFF 2015). Shot in Melbourne, it explores fatherhood, trauma and second chances.

Director Jeremy Sim’s (Last Cab to Darwin, Beneath Hill 60) Wayne is a must-see for moto-GP fans. Here, Sims explores a defining piece of Australian sporting history that saw Wayne Gardner conquer the world of motorcycle racing and return home a hero; while Island of the Hungry Ghosts takes audiences on a unique and moving cinematic journey through the intersection of Christmas Island’s migrating land crabs, lost souls caught in limbo and political detainees.

Dominating documentaries

Sundance award-winner, Stephen Loveridge digs deep into the life of his good friend Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasm in MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A, demonstrating her pull-no-punches personality and focus on political activism, and how this caused her career to suffer; and rounding up the First Glance lineup, directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown dive wholeheartedly into the African-American roller rink scene, circling around racial profiling, the roots of rap and communities in crisis with Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award winner, United Skates.

 

The complete list of First Glance titles including Opening Night Gala:

An Elephant Sitting Still (China)
Angels Wear White (China)
Apostasy (UK)
Beast (UK)
Blaze (USA)
Bodied (USA)
First Reformed (USA)
I Used to Be Normal – A Boyband Fangirl Story (Australia/USA)
Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Australia)
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (France)
Let the Corpses Tan (Belgium/France)
MATANGI /MAYA /M.I.A. (USA/UK)
McQueen (UK)
Mr Inbetween (Australia)
People’s Republic of Desire (China / USA)
Pig (Iran)
Pity (Greece/Poland)
The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man (USA)
The Cheaters (Australia)
The Deserted (Taiwan)
The Guilty (Denmark)
The Insult (Lebanon)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (USA)
The Seen and Unseen (Indonesia)
Tigers Are Not Afraid (Mexico)
Transit (Germany)
United Skates (USA)
Wayne (Australia/NZ)
West of Sunshine (Australia)
Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (France)
Wildlife – Opening Night Gala (USA)
You Were Never Really Here (USA/France)
Zama (Argentina/Brazil/Spain/France/Netherlands/Mexico/Portugal)

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MIFF ANNOUNCES RECORD CANNES LINE-UP  –  Updated 1 July

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has announced the inclusion of a record 43 feature films and a special shorts highlight handpicked from this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

With the internationally renowned celebration of cinema concluding in France just over a month ago, for many of the films making their way to MIFF, this will be their first screening outside of Cannes.

With Australian actress Cate Blanchett chairing this year’s Cannes jury, the collection of award-winning films being presented at MIFF offers an acute snapshot of the current state of contemporary global cinema.

Spearheaded by this year’s Palme d’Or winners –  Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters and Melbourne short, All These Creatures –  the showcase gathers films from every continent with features, documentaries, animation and shorts.

Exploring the heartbreak and hidden secrets of a family of small-time thieves, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shopliftersis both a humanistic portrait and an indictment of a society so willing to cast struggling people aside. Marking the 13th feature from the prolific writer and director, the film was described by IndieWire as a “delicate, deceptive and profoundly moving drama about the forces that hold a family together”.

Having conquered Cannes, Australian director Charles Williams’ Palme d’Or winning short All These Creatures makes its triumphant return home with the Australian Premiere. The 13-minute drama tells the story of Tempest (Yared Scott), an adolescent boy attempting to untangle his memories of a mysterious infestation, the unravelling of his father, and the little creatures inside us all. Shot on 16mm film in the outer Melbourne suburb of Dandenong, All These Creatures is a beguiling insight from a young director on the rise.

Recipient of the Cannes Best Director prize and a widely praised follow-up to his Oscar-winner Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a stunning love story that wends its way through a partitioned Europe. Inspired by Pawlikowski’s own parents’ story, Cold War is a lyrical and emotional work replete with virtuosic black-and-white visuals and a keen sense of music.

Following her 2014 Cannes Grand Prix-winning The Wonders, Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s enchanting feature Happy as Lazzaro is a magic-realist fable of modern Italy that bends time in unforgettable ways. Winner of Best Screenplay, Happy as Lazzaro casts an enchanting spell on the audience, while crafting an origin story for the corruption of modern-day Italy.

After receiving a 15-minute standing ovation, Nadine Labaki’s Capharnaüm went on to win this year’s Jury Prize.  A neorealist fable, Capharnaüm’s starting premise is a 12-year-old child attempting to divorce from his parents. Drawing astonishing performances from her cast of non-professional actors, Labaki’s dark but deeply humane Kafka-esque tale is a film flecked with “diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope” (The Telegraph).

A multiple award winner at Cannes – including the Camera d’Or, the Queer Palm, the Un Certain Regard Best Actor award and the FIPRESCI Prize – Lukas Dhont’s debut feature Girl is an empathetic chronicle of a young transgender woman’s quest to become a ballerina in a career-defining performance by professional dancer Victor Polster.

Winner of the Art Cinema Award in the Director’s Fortnight, legendary provocateur Gaspar Noé’s Climax is an ecstatic and nightmarish orgy of sex, drugs and 90s club music re-establishes his credentials as modern cinema’s most incisive and inventive observer of humanity’s animal darkness.

Winner of the Grand Prize at Critics Week, Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s Diamantino is a wild satire following a disgraced soccer superstar on a fantastical adventure that skewers celebrity culture by way of queer sci-fi thriller, political comedy… and everything in between.

Auteurs

Featuring films from Spain, the USA, Belgium and many more, this year’s Cannes featured some of the greatest names in world cinema.

Starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Everybody Knows is the tense psychological thriller that opened this year’s Cannes competition from two-time Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi. This riveting Spanish-language thriller explores Farhadi’s trademark concerns of class tension, family secrets and domestic angst. What unravels is a tightly wound game of whodunit.

Decades in the making, director Terry Gilliam’s near-mythical riff on Cervantes’ fantastic tale, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – finally makes its debut. Starring Adam Driver (Girls) alongside Gilliam stalwart Jonathan Pryce, it tells the story of a cynical ad man trapped in the delusions of an old shoemaker who believes himself to be Don Quixote, with the pair’s comedic adventures functioning as a fitting analogy to the film’s very existence.

Oscar-nominated Debra Granik returns to feature filmmaking with Leave No Trace – a humane depiction of the bond between father and daughter and the universal desire to live by your own rules. Led by a star-making performance from young New Zealand actor Thomasin Harcourt-McKenzie, it tackles difficult subject matter with nimbleness and light, and shows why Granik remains such a pivotal and compelling voice in American independent cinema.

Animation

A triumph of craft, the three selected animated features offer audiences a unique perspective on family, the allure of war reporting and the pursuit of truth.

Journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski’s experiences during the 1975 Angolan civil war anchor Another Day of Life– a stirring hybrid of live-action documentary and animated biography, based on the Polish reporter’s acclaimed memoir of the same name.

A cinematic amalgam – selected from the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week – Chris the Swiss plunges audiences into a murder mystery amid the Yugoslav Wars of the early 1990s. Here, director Anja Kofmel tells the untold story surrounding the death of her cousin Chris, a Swiss war reporter, after his body was discovered under mysterious circumstances in 1992. Told through haunting hand-painted black and white animation mixed with documentary footage, the film blends fantasy with reality in surprising ways.

Mirai  blends time-travelling antics with delicate family dynamics. Director Mamoru Hosoda’s fantastical film offers a child’s view of coping with a new sibling. Described by Screen Daily as a “beguilingly sweet-natured little gem…a work of heart-swelling beauty and considerable charm,” Mirai is a must for fans of anime and animation alike.

Documentaries

Turning their attention on two of the 20th and 21st century’s most conspicuous men, this year’s Cannes documentary selections are set to leave audiences inspired and divided.

In Pope Francis – a Man of his Word, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Wim Wenders turns his legendary directorial lens to one of the world’s most remarkable subjects: the enigmatic, visionary and controversial Pope Francis. With unprecedented access and remarkably candid interviews with Francis himself, Wenders offers an essential, fascinating portrait of the man now responsible for the earth’s 1.25 billion Catholics.

From church to the altar of entertainment, Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orson Welles gets to the heart of greatness in a whimsical and heartfelt examination of one of the 20th century’s greatest showmen. Having been granted exclusive access to the private collection of correspondence, paintings and drawings from the great American actor, writer and director, Cousins ties Welles’s story into that of the modern age and proves his continued relevance in an age of rising fascism, bullying and fake news.

Special events

The first film to be revealed as part of MIFF’s already announced Cage-a-thon, Mandy will kick off the 12-hour screening with a frenetic explosion of genre’s greatest hits that swings from crazed horror to devilish comedy, providing a perfect platform for Nicolas Cage to indulge his wildest excesses.

Paul Dano’s directorial debut, Wildlife, has also been announced as the festival’s Opening Night Gala.  Offering an intelligent and empathetic adaptation of Richard Ford’s novel about a teen dealing with his family falling apart in 1960s Montana, it stars Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal and Australia’s Ed Oxenbould.

All tickets go on sale Friday 13 July

The 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival runs 2-19 August, visit miff.com.au

Cannes titles screening at MIFF – with full list of shorts to be announced at program launch – include:

All These Creatures – Dir. Charles Williams (Australia)

Another Day of Life – Dir. Rau de la Fuente and Damian Nenow (Poland/Spain/Benelux/Germany/Hungary)

Arctic– Dir. Joe Penna (Iceland)

Asako I+II – Dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan)

Ash is Purest White Dir. Jia Zhang-ke (China/France)

At War – Dir. Stéphane Brizé (France)

Birds of Passage – Dir. Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego (Colombia/Mexico/Denmark/France)

Burning – Dir. Lee Chang-dong (South Korea)

Capharnaüm – Dir. Nadine Labaki (France)

Chris the Swiss – Dir. Anja Kofmel (Switzerland/Hungary/Germany/Finland)

Climax – Dir. Gaspar Noé (France)

Cold War – Dir. Pawel Pawlikowski (France/Poland/UK)

Dear Son –  Dir. Mohamed Ben Attia (Tunisia/Belgium)

Diamantino – Dir. Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt (Portugal/France/Brazil)

Dogman -Dir. Matteo Garrone (Italy)

Donbass –  Dir. Sergei Loznitsa (Ukraine)

Everybody Knows – Dir. Asghar Farhadi (Iran)

Girl – Dir. Lukas Dhont (Netherlands)

Happy as Lazarro – Dir. Alice Rohrwacher (Italy/Switzerland/France/Germany)

Knife + Heart – Dir. Yann Gonzalez (France)

Leave No Trace – Dir. Debra Granik(USA)

Los Silencios – Dir. Beatriz Seigner (France)

Mandy – Dir. Panos Cosmatos (USA)

Manto – Dir. Nandita Das (India/France)

Mirai – Dir. Mamoru Hosoda (Japan)

Murder Me, Monster – Dir. Alejandro Fadel (Argentina)

One Day – Dir. Zsofia Szilagyi (Hungary)

Pope Francis – A Man of his Word – Dir. Wim Wenders (Italy/France/Germany/Switzerland)

Rafiki – Dir. Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya/South Africa/Germany/Netherlands/France/Norway/Lebanon)

Shoplifters – Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan)

Sofia – Dir. Meryem Benm’Barek (France/Qatar)

Sorry Angel – Dir. Christophe Honore (France)

The Eyes of Orson Welles – Dir. Mark Cousins (UK)

The Fugue – Dir. Agnieszka Smoczynska (Poland/Czech Republic)

The Harvesters – Dir. Etienne Kallos (South Africa/France/Poland/Greece)

The Image Book – Dir. Jean-Luc Godard (Switzerland/France)

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – Dir. Terry Gilliam (Spain/UK/France/Portugal)

The Spy Gone North – Dir. Yoon Jong-Bin (South Korea)

The Wild Pear Tree – Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey/Macedonia/Germany/Bulgaria/Macedonia/Sweden)

The World is Yours – Dir. Romain Gavras (France)

Three Faces –  Dir. Jafar Panahi (Iran)

Wildlife – Dir. Paul Dano (USA)

Woman at War – Dir. Benedikt Erlingsson (Iceland)

Yomeddine – Dir. Abu Bakr Shawky (Egypt/USA)

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FIVE PROJECTS TO HAVE THEIR WORLD PREMIERE AT MIFF 2018

Entering its second decade, the MIFF Premiere Fund brings five world premieres to the 67th Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), including Thomas M. Wright’s highly anticipated directorial debut Acute Misfortune, as well as the joyous The Coming Back Out Ball Movie for the festival’s Closing Night Gala.

The Premiere Fund, which offers minority co-financing to new Australian quality theatrical (narrative and documentary) feature films that then premiere at MIFF, has invested in more than 60 projects including the MIFF 2018 slate.

Five films will have their red-carpet world premiere screenings at this year’s MIFF, as follows:

  • Director Sue Thomson’s The Coming Back Out Ball Movie captures the stories of the glittering October 2017 Coming Back Out Ball, hosted by cabaret legend Robyn Archer with performances by Carlotta, Deborah Cheetham and Gerry Connolly, and those LGBTI+ elders it honoured in this life-affirming love letter to Australia’s original fighters for queer equality. Whilst exploring complex realities around ageing in the LGBTI+ community, this is a celebratory and life-affirming film that will leave audience laughing, crying – and ready to dance at the MIFF’s glittering Closing Night Gala.
  • Daniel Henshall (Snowtown) stars as infamous Archibald Prize-winning artist Adam Cullen in Acute Misfortune, a lyrical adaptation of The Saturday Paper editor Erik Jensen’s acclaimed biography, which also stars Toby Wallace, Max Cullen and Genevieve Lemon. In his directorial feature debut, Top of the Lake actor Thomas M. Wright deftly weaves a striking tale of the bright young wunderkind writer and the brilliant yet deeply troubled artist.
  • Inspired by former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s searing eulogy for Geoffrey Tozer, and directed by Janine Hosking (My Khmer Heart), The Eulogy explores the remarkable and tragic story of Australia’s greatest-ever, and perhaps most overlooked, pianist and includes Keating re-staging his famous funeral oration as music educator and conductor Richard Gill AO embarks on a journey to restore Tozer’s legacy.
  • Mega-mining and pastoral developments in the world-famous Kimberley threaten not just the pristine environment but more than 200 Indigenous communities and their peoples’ sacred links to Country in Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley in which Traditional Owners, including activist and musician Albert Wiggan and academic Dr Anne Poelina, ask will the Kimberley’s custodians, lands and cultures survive these pressures? Director Nicholas Wrathall (Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia) delivers an urgent film that tells a sadly universal story of the David-and- Goliath battles Indigenous peoples face and the human costs of doing business.
  • MIFF Accelerator Lab alumna Miranda Nation makes her feature directorial debut in Undertow, a psychological thriller of grief, abuse and obsession set against the backdrop of local footy culture that stars Josh Helman (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: Apocalypse), Olivia DeJonge (The Visit), Laura Gordon (Joe Cinque’s Consolation) and Rob Collins (Glitch). Shot in Geelong and along Victoria’s rugged Surf Coast, Bonnie Elliot’s evocative cinematography sets the tone for this starkly topical feature debut.

“The Premiere Fund champions stories that need telling and we are so proud of this year’s slate of wonderfully diverse and inclusive world premieres,” said MIFF Premiere Fund Executive Producer Mark Woods. “As the Premiere Fund enters its second decade, we take our hats off to the talented filmmakers that we have the privilege of working with and we look forward to the Fund continuing to play its part in supporting quality new Australian cinema.”

Across its eleven years, the Premiere Fund has a proud history of assisting a wide range of stories that need telling from a diverse range of talent and voices.

Of the 67 films co-financed thus far by the Premiere Fund:

  • Some 28% had female directors (versus Screen Australia-reported industry average of 16%)
  • 58% had female producers (versus industry average of 32%);
  • 42% included youth themes (including Paper Planes);
  • 28% had elements portraying Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Communities (CALDs), with 6% having CALD creative principals (director and/or producer(s));
  • 15% included indigenous themes and/or characters (including Bran Nue Dae), with 6% having indigenous creative principals;
  • 13% included LGBTI+ characters and/or issues, with 19% involving LGBTI+ creative principals
  • 43% involved regional themes and/or regional shoots
  • Some 51% of Premiere Fund movies are helmed by first time directors, with 21% of the overall tally being directed by alumnus of the MIFF Accelerator Lab emerging director program and 49% securing part of their financing from MIFF 37ºSouth Market.

Other key milestones include:

  • Children’s film Paper Planes grossed almost $10 million at the Australia/NZ box office and won the inaugural CineFest $100,000 film prize in 2014
  • Premiere Fund titles have won more than 60 awards and more than 285 key festival selections including Berlin (Make Hummus Not War, The Turning, Galore, Paper Planes, Bran Nue Dae, Monsieur Mayonnaise, Emo The Musical)Cannes (These Final Hours); Rotterdam (Electric Boogaloo, Not Quite Hollywood, Have You Seen The Listers?); Toronto (Cut Snake, Electric Boogaloo, Paper PlanesDownriver, Balibo, Blessed, Bran Nue Dae, Not Quite Hollywood, Blame, Machete Maidens Unleashed, Mother of Rock, Loved Ones, The Butterfly Tree)
  • Indigenous-themed feature documentary Putuparri & The Rainmakers won the 2015 CineFest $100,000 Film Prize, with Cinefest Jury Chair David Wenham remarking: “A story and characters so compelling and emotionally engaging that it reinforced the power of cinema to entertain, touch us deeply and stay with us forever.”

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MIFF 2018 FULL PROGRAM ANNOUNCED 

Celebrating its 67th year, The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has unveiled its 2018 program. Featuring 254 feature films, 120 shorts and 19 virtual reality experiences, the festival will include 27 World premieres and 168 Australian premieres over 18 action-packed days of cinema.

Embarking on her eighth and final festival as Artistic Director, Michelle Carey said: “I feel so honoured to go out with a bang on such an incredibly strong program. MIFF 2018 promises thrills, laughs and surprises, across galas, features, retrospectives, documentaries, shorts, live performances and VR. We have assembled the festival’s largest program yet and I can’t wait to unleash it onto Melbourne’s cine-savvy audiences.”

In a program hallmarked by its geographic and directorial breadth, the programming team – led by Carey and Associate Artistic Director Al Cossar – has weaved a series of curatorial threads that will enable audiences to experience films from 80 countries.

This year’s audiences will be presented with the festival’s largest ever selection of titles direct from Cannes, along with a collection of recently rediscovered and restored African cinema and a unique look at fashion’s influence on film and film’s influence on fashion. Elsewhere, there will be a focus on Indigenous stories and storytelling and a retrospective look at the dazzling Italo-Crime genre.

For the first time since 2007, MIFF will take over Melbourne’s grand old picture palace, the Regent Theatre for its entire opening weekend. As well as screening Paul Dano’s highly anticipated Opening Night Gala film Wildlife, presented by Grey Goose, the Regent will play host to a series of headline films and special events, including Hear My Eyes – a live soundtrack event scored to Nicolas Winding Refn’s cult classic Drive.

For its middle weekend Centrepiece Gala, the festival revealed that uproarious Australian comedy The Merger would have its world premiere.

Based on comedian Damian Callinan’s acclaimed stage show of the same name, The Merger is the tale of a struggling small town footy team that recruits refugees to survive. Starring John Howard, Josh McConville, Fayzaal Bazzi, Kate Mulvany and Callinan himself, The Merger is a film with big laughs, a big heart and lashings of sweet and sour chicken kiev.

In what is set to be one of the most celebratory conclusions to the festival in years, MIFF will screen The Coming Back Out Ball Movie to bring the festival to a close. Directed by Sue Thomson and supported through the MIFF Premiere Fund, The Coming Back Out Ball Movie is a triumphant and life-affirming love letter to Australia’s original fighters for queer equality a film that will have audiences laughing, crying and ready to dance, darling.

Reflecting an extraordinary year of filmmaking, this year’s 15 Headliners represent the most buzzed about international cinema:

After receiving a 15-minute standing ovation, Nadine Labaki – one of 90 female directors in this year’s program – offers Capharnaüm, winner of this year’s Jury Prize at Cannes. Centred on a 12-year-old child attempting to divorce himself from his parents, Labaki’s neorealist fable is notable for the astonishing performances she draws out from her cast of non-professional actors.

In Burning, South Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong adapts author Haruki Murakami’s short story of romantic longing into a riveting and dramatic thriller. Wildly praised at Cannes, Burning set a new record for the highest-ever score in Screen Internationals poll of critics at the festival.

Doubling down on the sensory experience of their past works, Colombian-born filmmakers Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego bring a distinct perspective to the time-honoured rags-to-riches drug saga. Mythical in its storytelling, Birds of Passage combines eye-popping traditional costumes and culture, an immersive atmosphere of surreal imagery and glorious widescreen cinematography.

Equally intense in its visceral qualities, Climax is an ecstatic and nightmarish orgy of sex, drugs and 90s club music from legendary provocateur Gaspar Noé. Winner of the Art Cinema Award at Cannes, Climax reaffirms Noé as modern cinema’s most incisive and inventive observer of humanity’s animal darkness.

Oscar nominated Debra Granik – a guest of this year’s festival – returns to feature filmmaking with Leave No Trace, a humane depiction of the bond between father and daughter and the universal desire to live by your own rules.

Recipient of the Cannes Best Director prize, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a love story that wends its way through a partitioned Europe. Inspired by Pawlikowski’s own parents’ story, Cold War offers audiences a lyrical and emotional work replete with virtuosic black-and-white visuals and a keen sense of music.

Decades in the making, director Terry Gilliam’s near-mythical riff on Cervantes’ fantastic tale, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, finally makes its way to Melbourne. Starring Adam Driver alongside Gilliam stalwart Jonathan Pryce, it’s the story of a cynical ad man trapped in the delusions of an old shoemaker who believes himself to be Don Quixote.

The diversity of this year’s program is mirrored in the individuals who will attend the festival as guests. Highlights include: star of Blaze, Alia Shawkat; Oscar nominated director, Debra Granik; French husband and wife filmmakers, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani; and director of Holiday, Isabella Eklöf, with more to be announced.

The 2018 festival program highlights the rise of Australia’s next generation of filmmakers. Not confined or constrained by traditional funding models, this group of films will expose Melbourne audiences to some of the most important new voices in Australian cinema.

“At MIFF we are always looking for exciting new filmmakers, and this year heralds one of the most promising bunch from Australia in many years,” said Carey. “There is an admirable willingness here to let their own aesthetic expression shine through, to see past genre and to do things their own way. MIFF salutes them and looks forward to introducing them to Melbourne audiences.”

Alena Lodkina’s visually stunning feature debut Strange Colours is a story of family and estrangement set amid the alien landscape of Australia’s opal miners. With most of the characters played by actual opal miners,it’s a hypnotic dusky reverie, filled with quiet grace and power.  Fellow Lab alumnus Ted Wilson however, delivers a feel-good film of family, cricket and one man’s hunt for David Boon, in his delicately poised Under the Cover of Cloud.

The MIFF Premiere Fund-supported Acute Misfortune is the debut feature from renowned independent theatre director, Thomas M. Wright. A lyrical adaptation of journalist Erik Jensen’s acclaimed biography of infamous Archibald Prize-winning artist Adam Cullen played by Daniel Henshall, who will return from New York for the film’s world premiere. Also supported through the Fund, director Miranda Nation’s Undertow is a psychological thriller of grief, abuse and obsession set against the backdrop of local footy culture.

From rising filmmaker Ben Hackworth comes Celeste, a literally operatic character study of loss and power and the things that tear us apart. A sumptuously shot psychological thriller starring Radha Mitchell and Nadine Garner, Celeste is a riveting statement of intent from one of Australia’s boldest cinematic voices.

The stories of Australia’s Indigenous population will be brought to life in one of the most dynamic showcases of Indigenous content in the festival’s history.

An exhilarating and immersive film that will be shown at Melbourne’s Planetarium, Carriberrie tells the expansive story of Indigenous Australian song and dance. Featuring Aboriginal dance theatre group Bangarra and actors Jack Charles and David Gulpilil, Carriberrie is an intimate and breathtaking showcase of Aboriginal performance and Australian landscape.

A starkly different documentary and a powerful call to action, the MIFF Premiere Fund-supported Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley, from award-winning director Nicholas Wrathall (Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia), unearths the true cost of doing business in Australia’s world-famous Kimberley region; a place where mega-mining and pastoral developments threaten not just the environment but more than 200 Indigenous communities and their peoples’ sacred links to Country.

In a ground-breaking work of interactive filmmaking, Thalu: Dreamtime is Now takes audiences on a journey into the modern Dreamtime stories of the western Pilbara-based Ngarluma. Directed by award-winning Ngarluma man Tyson Morwarin, this is a rare opportunity for audiences to hear these stories and to experience them through the medium of virtual reality.

A tribute to an outcast musical genius; the astonishing story of three identical triplets separated at birth; the tale of a motorcycling legend; an unrestrained insight into one of music’s most provocative stars; and the story of Australia’s original working class man, all mark out this year’s documentary selection.

In a coup for Melbourne audiences, MIFF will screen the world premiere of Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy – Mark Joffe’s captivating and compassionate portrait of one of Australia’s most well-known musical figures. Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, the film joins Jimmy as he retraces his earliest steps through the hard streets of Glasgow and revisits childhood ghosts in South Australia. It’s a raw, yet darkly funny story set against a backdrop of never-seen-before archival footage and interviews along with captivating musical moments.

Equally unflinching and honest, MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A. presents outspoken musician M.I.A at her most candid. Winner of the Special Jury Award (World Cinema Documentary) at Sundance, this film is as dynamic, eclectic and electrifying as the artist herself.

In his feature documentary debut, director Jeremy Sims turns his lens on Australia’s greatest ever professional motorcyclist – Wayne “The Wollongong Whiz” Gardner. In a film that’s as free-spirited, introspective, honest and cheeky as the man himself, Wayne offers a revealing portrait of a man who, during his career, was certainly hard to miss.

Like something out of The Twilight Zone, Three Identical Strangers tells the incredible true story of triplets separated at birth…but that’s just the beginning of an even more astonishing saga. Having taken Sundance by storm, Three Identical Strangers is both a remarkable real-life tale and bona fide thriller, which will leave audiences gobsmacked.

Inspired by former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s searing eulogy for Geoffrey Tozer, the Premiere Fund-supported The Eulogy explores the remarkable and tragic story of Australia’s greatest-ever, and perhaps most overlooked, pianist. Directed by Janine Hosking, the film includes Keating re-staging his famous funeral oration, as celebrated conductor Richard Gill AO embarks on a journey to restore Tozer’s legacy.

From Givenchy to Gaultier, Armani to Alpha60, fashion design and style have long been influenced by cinema. In 2018, MIFF brings some of the most iconic style films to the big screen; films that launched style icons and influenced style for decades to come. In a program specially curated by Artistic Director Michelle Carey, Fashion x Cinema covers multiple genres, with each film unified by a sense of timelessness and jaw-dropping beauty.

This programming strand features: McQueen, director Ian Bonhôte’s ode to one of fashion’s most storied designers; Yellow is Forbidden, where veteran documentarian Pietra Brettkelly tells the haute couture Cinderella story of China’s Guo Pei – the designer behind the famed yellow dress worn by Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala; and Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist – an observational look at the orange-haired punk icon who rewrote the rules for the generation of designers who followed in her footsteps. Retrospective titles include:Funny Face, the film that saw Audrey Hepburn join forces with Givenchy; Berry Gordy’s rarely screened Mahogany, where Diana Ross plays an aspiring fashion designer torn between activism and a career of luxury; and Peter Weir’s inimitable Australian classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock.

African Film Rediscovered is a retrospective program of recently restored and newly recovered classic African films, showcasing films from three decades and ten countries to celebrate the diversity and unique perspective of African cinema.

Featuring Chronicle of the Years of Embersthe stirring, 1975 Palme d’Or winner by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina (Algeria); Selma Baccar’s pioneering feminist essay-film, Fatma 75 (Tunisia); and Shadi Abdel Salam’s haunting classic The Night of Counting the Years (Egypt). African Film Rediscovered is an in-depth look at the continent’s most seminal filmmaking.

The Italo-Crime retrospective takes a focused look at Eurocrime and poliziotteschi – a genre of Italian crime thrillers from the 60s and 70s.

Considered a defining moment in the poliziotteschi genre, the retrospective kicks off with The Violent Four, a down and dirty cinema vérité-inspired thriller set in the seedy Milan underworld. Other films include: Confessions of a Police Captain, an anti-buddy cop classic that quite literally cuts the red tape and leaves it full of bullet holes; Milan Caliber 9, one of Quentin Tarantino’s greatest inspirations; and the Oscar-winning Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion – a Kafkaesque collision of fascist noir and absurdist satire that trails the powerful police chief hunting down a vicious killer: himself.

Spearheaded by this year’s Palme d’Or winning Australian film, All These Creatures, MIFF Shorts will feature 90 films, as well as a specially curated (by the Harvard Film Archive) program of the intimate diary films of Bostonian artist, Anne Charlotte Robertson. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance, director Álvaro Gago delivers Matria; Israel’s Miki Polonski offers Shmama, the story of a mother and her daughter trapped in their own relationship; Australian Kerinne Jenkins brings the festival Cattle, a narrative of unspoken fears and inexplicable occurrences; and Iranian director Mojtaba Mousavi presents Mr. Deer – the tale of a deer attempting to rekindle the humanity of his fellow train passengers.

In its largest iteration to date, the 2018 program has left no stone unturned. Presenting its core international and local selections alongside their regular programming strands – Experimentations, Music on Film, Night Shift, Retrospectives, Special Events and Talks – MIFF 2018 will beckon audiences everywhere to come and see another side of film.

The 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival runs 2 – 19 August.

Visit www.miff.com.au for the full program or explore individual program strands below:

Galas and Special Events
Headliners
Australian Films
International
African Film Discovered
Experimentations
Fashion X Cinema
Documentaries
History Uncovered
Sports Docs
Night Shift
Cattet / Forzani Retrospective
Italo-Crime
Animation
MIFF Schools
Music on Film
VR
MIFF Shorts
MIFF Talks
Industry Public Events

 

 

 

 






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