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Book your future memories: Melbourne International Film Festival 2016 Highlights

ONE of the biggest film festivals in the country returns for its 65th edition. Natalie Ng has your highlights from this year’s program for the Melbourne International Film Festival!

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The biggest and most anticipated film festival in Australia is back!

The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, and once again it has outdone itself with a monumental lineup of 345 films coming from all over the world. Out of these 345 films, 157 will be making their Australian premiere.

MIFF will take place across a range of venues in the Melbourne CBD area from July 28 to August 14. What better way to beat the chilly Melbourne winter than by diving into a whole new world in the thrilling darkness of world cinema?

This year’s program features the cream of the crop from the world’s most prestigious festivals. Numerous films direct from Cannes, Berlin and Sundance have all been chosen to screen at MIFF this year.

These include cult director Park Chan Wook‘s The Handmaiden from Cannes, Filipino auteur Lav Diaz‘a eight hour opus A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery that won the Silver Bear in Berlin this year, and Weiner, the hilarious political documentary about New York politician Anthony Weiner that won Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.

With such a wide range of films to choose from, it can be daunting to figure out what exactly to see. Below are some highlights from the festival that are chosen to find something for everyone.

Virtual Reality 
Invasion! | Director: Eric Darnell | USA
Throughout August 10 | Various times

Still from Invasion! Image from MIFF

Still from Invasion! | Image courtesy of MIFF

With the support of the City of Melbourne, Victoria Harbour and Screen Australia, MIFF will be bringing together a series of nine Virtual Reality (VR) experiences by both Australian and International filmmakers exploring this exciting new medium.

One of the most exciting films is Invasion!, a 30 minute virtual reality experience from the director of the Madagascar films, Eric Darnell. In Invasion! potentially threatening aliens invade Earth, but face opposition from two adorable white bunny rabbits, one of whom is you — the viewer!

Whether or not you care for sci-fi or animation, the uniqueness of the experience alone is convincing enough. Director Eric Darnell will also be present for a keynote session Virtual Reality and Storytelling held at The Wheeler Centre, for anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating new medium.

Documentary
No Home Movie | Director: Chantal Akerman | France, Belgium
Friday, July 29 (6.30pm) | Sunday, August 7 (1.30pm)

Still from No Home Movie. Image courtesy of MIFF

Still from No Home Movie. | Image courtesy of MIFF

Director Chantal Akerman, a leading voice in feminist cinema, passed away tragically in 2015. Her documentary No Home Movie, was released posthumously and is an intimate portrait of the director’s relationship with her mother, a survivor of Auschwitz, months before her mother’s own death.

Put together through webcam chats, small handheld cameras and footage from her phone, the film is heartbreaking, universal and quietly powerful in its portrait of love through mother and daughter’s relationship.

Animation
The Red Turtle | Director: Michael Dudok De Wit | France, Japan
Saturday, July 30 (4.00pm) | Sunday, August 14 (4.00pm)

Still from The Red Turtle. Image courtesy of MIFF

Still from The Red Turtle. | Image courtesy of MIFF

It is always exciting when you hear the words “Studio Ghibli”.

The Red Turtle marks the celebrated and highly respected Japanese studio’s first international co-production with Dutch animator Michael Dudok De Wit’s debut film. Beautifully hand-drawn, the film is a wordless fable that tells the story of a shipwrecked man who finds himself marooned on an island and his encounter with the titular red turtle.

Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the film went on to win the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize. If it’s good enough for Studio Ghibli, it’s good enough for everyone!

Accent on Asia
After the Storm | Director: Hirokazu Koreeda | Japan
Friday, July 29 (11.00am) | Friday, August 5 (6.30pm)

Still of After the Storm. Image courtesy of MIFF

Still of After the Storm. | Image courtesy of MIFF

Director Hirokazu Koreeda is a regular at MIFF, with films showing up in Cannes and then at MIFF in the past few years (Like Father Like Son at MIFF 2013, Our Little Sister at MIFF 2015).

His latest film, After the Storm, once again explores the emotional intricacies of family relationships, and of fractured families. Koreeda always handles human emotion and relationships with incredible delicacy, never trading honesty for unnecessary drama.

Next Gen
What’s in the Darkness | Director: Wang Yichun | China
Wednesday, August 3 (1.00pm) | Tuesday, August 9 (11.00am)

Still from What's in the Darkness. Image courtesy of MIFF

Still from What’s in the Darkness. Image courtesy of MIFF

This Chinese gem is female director Wang Yichun’s debut film, and in its Variety review, has been compared to some of the greatest films of the past decade, including Michael Haneke‘s The White Ribbon, and also calls to mind Bong Joon Ho‘s Memories of Murder.

Told through the eyes of a teenage girl caught up in a series of horrible crimes rocking her small town, it navigates teenage sleuth Jing’s encounters with government ineptitude and hypocrisy, puritanical morality and coming of age and finding her place in such an environment.

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The Melbourne International Film Festival 2016 will take place from July 28 to August 14 at various venues all around town. To see the entire program and check out the range of ticket prices, festival passports and passes available, check out their official website.

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