[With just over 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.]
Only revealed at the programme launch, one of the Melbourne International Film Festival’s most exciting and interesting sections is its annual retrospective category, usually focusing on one to two filmmakers. Last year, the festival opted to select highlights from its 60 years of programming but the likelihood is the MIFF section will go back to its regular format this year.
While it would be great to see a South American or Eastern European director chosen in the category, it is difficult to see audiences vindicating this kind of decision in the form of ticket sales. It seems to be the reason why MIFF has also moved away from Asian filmmakers, despite its wealth of options – Tsai Ming-liang would be a challenging choice, Takashi Miike already has two films appearing at the festival, while Wong Kar-wai and Zhang Yimou are frankly overdue.
Therefore, due to the festival’s constraints, I offer four options ranging from the obvious to what I consider a bold choice.
With Room 237 already selected for MIFF, this is an obvious opportunity for the festival to screen an already much-loved director’s work on the big screen to new and old audiences, after only previously featuring Paths of Glory. The Astor Theatre has already been screening 2001: A Space Odyssey in jaw-dropping 70mm, and it provides the festival the opportunity to show early works like Fear and Desire and The Killing alongside the beautiful Barry Lyndon and the complex Eyes Wide Shut. With three short films to boot, Kubrick is a name that will immediately interest audiences.
All of his work
Amour is already looking like one of the year’s best films, so why not dig into the central actors’ treasure trove of features? Imagine Hiroshima, mon amour, Z, My Night at Maud’s, The Conformist, Thérèse Desqueyroux and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy on the big screen. Moving from filmmaker to actor while playing to Melbourne’s Francophile population, this is an extremely marketable choice.
Hiroshima, mon amour
Léon Morin, prêtre
My Night at Maud’s
The Man Who Lies
Three Colours: Blue
Three Colours: Red
While Bernie is yet to be announced for MIFF, it seems incredibly likely considering its appearance at the New Zealand Film Festival. If this is the case, then Melbourne should take advantage of the title by inviting the cinema-literate Linklater for a retrospective of his work. With a filmmography full of drama, romance, comedy, and ruminations on life, Linklater would be a terrific director to bring to MIFF. His knowledge of cinema means he could also curate a sidebar of films from other directors – Two-Lane Blacktop, anyone?
Dazed & Confused
The School of Rock
A Scanner Darkly
One of the most consistent conversations I had with critics at the Sydney Film Festival was the diversity of McConaughey’s roles in 2012, and I was insistent the man deserved a siderbar for his five films likely to come out in Australia this year. While Magic Mike will hit Australian cinemas a week before MIFF, Killer Joe looks a certainty to play after SFF and Bernie is another contender. MIFF has failed to announce Mud and The Paperboy to make this a genuine possibility, but I still believe this is a smart, bold and interesting retrospective that reexamines an actor mainly known for his romantic-comedy roles. If there was a legitimate opportunity, I would be acquiring Mud and The Paperboy and making this happen.
Dazed & Confused
A Time to Kill
Thirteen Conversations About One Thing
We Are Marshall
So those are the four options I would consider for MIFF’s retrospective section, with emphasis placed on the final two. Which filmmaker would you like the festival to focus on?