[With just a day until the Melbourne International Film Festival programme is revealed, Julian considers how he would fill out the festival if he was given the opportunity.]
A number of my most anticipated picks at any Australian festival are local features – many often making their World Premieres – and I always look forward to MIFF’s Australian Showcase section for some gems. Last year, the section featured fourteen films, but with The Sapphires grabbing this year’s Opening Night spot, I’ve selected fifteen Australian titles to look forward to.
Alongside The Sapphires, MIFF has also already announced Premiere Fund features in 100 Bloody Acres, First Fagan, The Last Dance, Make Hummus Not War and Save Your Legs! With six titles already locked up, I looked to the Sydney Film Festival and immediately chose Lore (Cate Shortland’s follow-up to Somersault) and Tony Krawitz’s Dead Europe for their impeccable direction, performances and photography – not to mention Lore’s sound design – alongside Penny Vozniak’s documentary Despite the Gods. Further north, the Brisbane International Film Festival provided me with Sean Gilligan’s Fantome Island, which immediately grabbed me due to its subject matter.
Then it was time to visit Screen Australia and look at which films are ready for their Australian Premieres. Mark Lamprell’s musical comedy Goddess and PJ Hogan’s Mental were early contenders, but both seem more likely to play at BIFF later in the year. Nevertheless, Drift, The Rocket, and Satellite Boy are very attractive selections.
With two spots left, I turned my attention to lesser-known titles, including one that’s already had its Australian Premiere at The Astor Theatre. David Schmidt’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea explores the incredibly relevant issue of asylum seekers by looking at the circumstances that lead to someone getting on a smuggler’s boat. This is a hotbed issue in Australia at the moment, and this is a film that deserves an audience.
The other spot goes to David Tucker’s My Thai Bride, which won an award at this year’s Hot Docs Festival. Following the demise of a Welshman’s marriage to a poor Thai bar girl, the film even-handedly examines the political, cultural and economic dynamics of the Asian country. My Thai Bride is a very different but equally interesting feature.
So, there you have it! Let’s take a look at my selections for the Australian Showcase section:
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea | dir. David Schmidt
Dead Europe | dir. Tony Krawitz
Despite the Gods | dir. Penny Vozniak
Drift | dir. Morgan O’Neill, Ben Nott
Fantome Island | dir. Sean Gilligan
First Fagan | dir. Alan Rosenthal
The Last Dance | dir. David Pulbrook
Lore | dir. Cate Shortland
Make Hummus Not War | dir. Trevor Graham
My Thai Bride | dir. David Tucker
The Rocket | dir. Kim Mordaunt
The Sapphires | dir. Wayne Blair
Sattelite Boy | dir. Catriona McKenzie
Save Your Legs! | dir. Boyd Hicklin
So that’s what I would have in the programme for MIFF 2012. Have I missed anything? What would you want if you had free reign?