WE’RE rubbing our hands in eager anticipation as the Melbourne International Film Festival kicks off next week! With a dizzying 300 titles to choose from, Jessica-Anne Lyons’ shortlist makes a great starting point to explore the world of film.
Grab that bucket of popcorn and have your choc-top at the ready, because the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is hosting a real smorgasbord of cinema this year.
The festival kicks off July 25 and will run right through to August 11, but with a film buffet of more than 300 titles from around the world, how do you know what to choose?
If the thought of indie films make you a bit wary, don’t worry – one of the main aims of this annual festival is to ensure there is something for everyone in the program. A number of films featured in previously years have even made it into mainstream theatres and won major awards. Hugely acclaimed films that were nominated for numerous Golden Globe Awards and Oscars in 2012 such as Moonrise Kingdom, The Intouchables and Amour, and Our Idiot Brother, Red Dog, or Melancholia from 2011, all screened first at MIFF!
So don’t let any of this year’s film showcase slip past you as they could very well be the next award winner. At least then, you’ll be able to have bragging rights and can say that you saw it first!
If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve handpicked films from some of the main categories of the festival that we’re excited about.
International Panorama – The Spectacular Now (USA)
International Panaroma is the MIFF’s main attraction and as the name suggests, it’s where you can see an entire array of the latest films from across the globe. Our selection, The Spectacular Now, is from the United States.
It’s the mindset of a lot of young people – go hard or go home. And it is precisely what Sutter, a high school senior and the main character of The Spectacular Now believes. He’s bordering on alcoholism and trying to cope with losing his ex when he meets the shy Aimee. This film won an award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Session times and booking information can be found at The Spectacular Now‘s page on the MIFF website.
Animation – Boles (Slovenia)
Animation can have just as big an effect on us as live-action films do – just ask Pixar or Studio Ghibli! From Slovenia, Boles is our selection for MIFF’s Animation category.
Anyone who’s ever picked up a pen can relate; sometimes writer’s block can suck. This short stop-motion animation, based on a short story, is about an author who’s hit a creative wall until he is asked to write a letter for his neighbour’s fiancé.
Session times and booking information can be found at Boles’ page on the MIFF website.
Accent on Asia – Ilo Ilo (Singapore)
Focusing on Australia’s neighbouring countries, Accent on Asia delves into films emanating from the Asian region. Among them is Ilo Ilo, a Singaporean film.
Ilo Ilo is set to be a poignant film on the themes of relationships and the troubles that come along with them. When main character Teresa leaves the Philippines for Singapore to work as a maid for a couple and their young son, she didn’t foresee a friendship with the little boy, a friendship that begins to take its toll on the couple’s relationship.
This film won the Caméra d’Or Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and director Anthony Chen will also be a special guest at MIFF. Don’t miss out!
Session times and booking information can be found at Ilo Ilo’s page on the MIFF website.
Next Gen – Patty’s Catchup (Germany)
Though most of the films at MIFF have been unclassified (and therefore strictly limited to adults), the Next Gen program is catered to those under the age of 18. That’s not to say that adults can’t enjoy these films as well though!
From Germany comes the lighthearted film, Patty’s Catchup. When the ambitious Patty decides to ditch her mother’s food stand to intern at a five-star restaurant to learn how to become a gourmet chef, her actions become a catalyst for some hilarious family dramas. This one goes out to all the foodies!
Session times and booking information can be found at Patty’s Catchup’s page on the MIFF website.
Night Shift – Lesson of the Evil (Japan)
MIFF’s Night Shift is where things get really weird. Only the most provocatively bizarre, strange and malignant films preside here.
Lesson of the Evil really isn’t one for the faint-hearted. Japan is known for their terrifying horror films, and this one is no exception. The concept is simple: take a high school teacher with murderous tendencies and have him locked up with his students inside the campus and you have the makings of something that might make you want to skip your next lecture (and with good reason!).
Scenes from this movie will undoubtedly disturb some people though so be warned if you choose to watch this film (MIFF also have a put disclaimer that the film features disturbing scenes not meant for the squeamish).
Director Takeshi Miike was also featured in last year’s edition of MIFF with the film Ace Attorney.
Session times and booking information can be found at Lesson of the Evil’s page on the MIFF website.
Documentaries – Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s (USA)
Oftentimes, truth is stranger than fiction. As is the case with MIFF’s Documentaries category, you’ll find a whole host of interesting stories that are sure to captivate.
Our selection in this category goes to Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, a doco that takes an in-depth look at the New York-based couture house, Bergdorf’s.
This luxurious department store is as star-studded as the cast in the film! Keep an eye out for celebrity designers and fashion lovers like Joan Rivers, Nicole Richie, the Olsen twins, Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani and Isaac Mizrahi.
Certainly one not to be missed by fashionistas!
Session times and booking information can be found at Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s page on the MIFF website.
Defying the Times: Activism on Film – Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer (Russia & UK)
Defying the Times: Activism on Film is a newly introduced category at MIFF that celebrates activism in its various forms across the world. Our selection for this section of MIFF goes to Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.
Now if you haven’t heard of Pussy Riot on the news over the last two years, then you must have been living under a rock.
In 2012, a group of five women musically protested against Vladimir Putin’s “excessive nationalism” in a Moscow Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a move that saw the video of the protest go viral and Pussy Riot arrested.
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer begins with the group’s formation, their arrest and the events that follow, and is an interesting statement on human rights and how these rights are abused in politics.
Session times and booking information can be found at Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer’s page on the MIFF website.
States of Play: American Independents – Pearblossom HWY (Greece & USA)
States of Play: American Independents takes a look at the best that America has to offer on it’s independent movie-making scene. With a minuscule budget powered by imagination and a love of filmmaking, this section is for the cynics who believe American cinema is dead.
We’ve chosen to take a look at Pearblossom Hwy, a film about two young adult misfits. Anna and Cory, are an unlikely pair of friends. Cory is a punk singer and one day hopes to be on a reality show, while Anna is an illegal immigrant who has resorted to prostitution to save money for a trip to Japan. But when Cory’s brother offers them a way out, the pair jumps at the chance.
Mike Ott, the film’s director, also made the award-winning film, Littlerock, which was shown at MIFF in 2010.
Session times and booking information can be found at Pearblossom Hwy’s page on the MIFF website.
Films are showing at a range of venues across Melbourne so it will be a pinch to find one close to you.