This year’s Melbourne International Film Festival program has launched, with the usual dizzying array of films new, old and thoroughly strange. No matter what kind of movie you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it. To prove it, we’ve riffled through and picked out one title for every taste.
Melbourne International Film Festival
- August 3-20
- Tickets on sale now
Jungle \ August 3
Yes, it’s set in the Bolivian rainforest, but this thrilling tale of survival from Wolf Creek director Greg McLean still counts. (McLean also has office-block horror The Belko Experiment on the MIFF program this year.) Former boy wizard Daniel Radcliffe plays real-life adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg, who becomes stranded for weeks in the uncharted Amazon. Getting its world premiere at MIFF’s opening night gala, this is one for fans of 127 Hours.
Three Summers \ August 12
British comic Ben Elton has scripted and directed this warmhearted comedy, shot in the leafy wild of South West Australia. Set across three years at a fictional music festival, it stars an incredible ensemble of local talent including Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman, Jacqueline McKenzie and John Waters. Home and Away alumnus Rebecca Breeds plays one of the romantic leads.
Something for the kids…
Phantom Boy \ August 5 and 13
The MIFF Kids stream (previously NextGen) is always a highlight, offering family-friendly titles at kid-friendly times. From the makers of A Cat In Paris, this fantastical superhero flick sees young cancer patient Leo discover that his spirit can flee his hospital bed — just in time to save New York for a supervillain.
Let The Sunshine In \ August 7 and 12
Well, it had to be something French. Awarded at Cannes, this rom com from director Claire Denis follows recently divorced Isabelle (Juliette Binoche). As she finds comfort in the arms of a number of new partners, she starts to wonder if sex and companionship really are the keys to happiness.
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer \ August 12 and 14
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s English language debut The Lobster painted a surreal world in which single people had to pair off on deadline or be transformed into an animal of their choice. For this follow-up, he again employs Colin Farrell, pairing him with Nicole Kidman for a darkly comic reworking of one of Euripides’s tragedies. Expect the bizarre.
Call Me By Your Name \ August 4 and 6
Armie Hammer stars in this Italian summer romance from the director of the sublime A Bigger Splash. It promises a swooning portrait of first love with lush visuals. If Ryan Gosling is more your taste when it comes to romance, check out Terrence Malick’s Song To Song – a love story set against the backdrop of the Austin music scene.
A nostalgia fix…
The Big Steal \ August 12
These days Ben Mendelsohn is best known as a bad man (from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to the recent and unsettling Una), but once he was the fresh-faced romantic lead in this Aussie classic from director Nadia Tass. It’s screening as part of an ace program called Pioneering Women, highlighting the work of female Australian directors.
God’s Own Country \ August 5 and 7
Described as a “British Brokeback Mountain, but better”, this Sundance hit from director Francis Lee draws on his own experience growing up in the Yorkshire countryside. Johnny is an intense farm worker who starts a relationship with Romanian labourer Gheorge.
Strange but true…
Nothingwood \ August 5 and 18
This colourful doco follows the career of Salim Shaheen, Afghanistan’s answer to infamous director Ed Wood. Despite being unable to read or write, Salim has made and self-distribute an incredible 111 films. His approach is cheap and fast, making it up as he goes along and fearlessly employing real guns, live ammunition and buckets of chicken blood.
Rock ’n roll…
The Go-Betweens: Right Here \ August 5 and 6
Red Dog director Kriv Stenders turns his camera on his favourite band, Brisbane’s The Go-Betweens, to tell the oft-fraught and sometimes tragic tale of their four-decade career. Drawing on an archive of never-before-seen footage, it’s a story packed with fascinating characters and near-misses at greatness.
Strange Days \ August 19
Kathryn Bigelow’s directorial debut was much maligned on release 20 years ago. Oddly for a film set in 1999, it now seems ahead of its time, as VR gets ever closer to reality and the US hurtles towards dystopia. Screening as part of a sci-fi retrospective, it’s a strange and bold sci-fi treat, featuring great turns from Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett. Also featured is the director’s cut of Dark City, which goes a long way towards transforming Alex Proyas’s cult hit from a mess to a masterpiece.
Loving Vincent \ August 12 and 20
The animation stream features weird and wonderful titles from all over the world, but it’s this Polish detective story based on the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh that has us most curious. Featuring Chris O’Dowd and Saoirse Ronan, it is forged entirely from oil paintings. Every single frame (all 62,000 of them) is a new canvas. Amazing.
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