[With less than a week until the Melbourne International Film Festival programme is launched, Julian considers how he would fill out the festival if he was given the opportunity.]
An indication of the rising popularity of “quality TV”, and a relatively new phenomenon at international film festivals, MIFF recently created the Prime Time section, featuring around seven titles made for the small screen. Last year’s picks included a mixture of European and Australian efforts, with distinctly different styles and issues.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at my selections for the Prime Time section:
Chernobyl – Four Days in April | dir. Janusz Dymek | POL
A drama that reconstructs four days following the Chernobyl disaster, Dymek’s effort follows a group of Polish doctors and scientists confronted with soaring radiation levels and apathetic government agencies unsure of how to react politically to the silent and secretive USSR. While the tragedy is still remembered today, this focuses on the little known story of the days following.
The Children of the Blankenese | dir. Raymond Ley | GER
From 1946 to 1948, Eric Warburg’s villa provided Jewish orphans – survivors of the Holocaust – a place to wait before their departure to what was known then as Palestine. Beginning in 1945, this staged documentary-drama features archival footage and contemporary interviews with people who lived at the Villa Warburg.
Homevideo | dir. Kilian Riedhof | GER
A direct and authentic presentation of the fate of a single adolescent protagonist in Germany, this is a remarkable film. With Benedict Neuenfels’ appropriate cinematography and strong direction from Riedhof, the feature deals with bullying in the cyber age, and the marks it leaves on its victims. This is a must.
Jack Irish: Bad Debts & Jack Irish: Black Tide | dir. Jeffrey Walker | AUS
Based on Peter Temple’s detective novels, the two telemovies see Guy Pearce in the role of the titular character – an ex-soldier, ex-lawyer, and ex-alcoholic – who has set up a non-criminal practice in Fitzroy. Filled with wit, action and a fallible protagonist, the films also comment on Melbourne, both past and present. These two telemovies bring a bit of star power to the category.
Just Try Me | dir. Zhao Xiatong | CHN
A romantic comedy that follows a woman named Lovely who is pursued by various suitors before seemingly finding the path of true love, and then not, Just Try Me’s simple premise means many will turn the other way. But this is a deceptively strong effort with solid production values and performances.
Shokuzai (Redemption) | dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa | JPN
Kiyoshi Kurosawa finally returns following his award-winning Tokyo Sonata with a five-part television series focusing on an elementary school student’s death and the consequences that follow her four friends for the next fifteen years. Anyone aware of Kurosawa’s work (including his debut feature Cure) will understand why it was so heavily anticipated in Japan and why this series should screen in Melbourne.
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?