If I Programmed MIFF 2013: The Retrospective Sections

Julian considers what he would pick if he was given free reign.

[After doing his three part feature series on titles for major Australian Film Festivals, Julian continues with picks for specific categories ahead of next week’s MIFF 2013 programme launch.]

Another year, another shot at fantasy programming the retrospective section.

Only revealed at the programme launch, one of the Melbourne International Film Festival’s most exciting and interesting elements is its annual retrospective categories, usually focusing on one to two filmmakers or movements. Last year, the festival selected the works of Leos Carax and Jean Epstein, alongside focuses on Independent Documentaries from China, New Hollywood Comedy and other geographical-based sections.

It is always difficult to predict these retrospectives, as acquiring available prints is an uneasy task for any programming team. Nevertheless, taking in mind the festival’s constraints, I offer four possible options (including three retrospective choices and one geographical-based section).

OPTION ONE: THE OBVIOUS DIRECTOR (ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY)

Jodorowsky
With The Dance of Reality already announced for MIFF, this is an opportunity for the festival to screen the works of Jodorowsky on the big screen. The Astor Theatre has already been screening El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and it means the festival can show his earliest works (La cravate and Fando y Lis) alongside later efforts (The Rainbow Thief). The retrospective may depend, however, on the selection of the new documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which is yet to be announced at a local festival.

Suggested Screening List
All of his work + Jodorowsky’s Dune

OPTION TWO: A TIFF CHOICE (100 YEARS OF CHINESE CINEMA)

Yellow Earth
The Toronto International Film Festival holds special screening seasons throughout the annual calendar, and one of its newer themes was “100 Years of Chinese Cinema”. Following on from the Indie Documentaries of last year, MIFF could showcase some of China’s most awe-inspiring works, giving new audiences a chance to see the classics on the big screen. From Spring in a Small Town to A Touch of Zen to In the Mood for Love to a cheeky acquisition of A City of Sadness, this is an extremely marketable choice.

Suggested Screening List
A Brighter Summer Day | dir. Edward Yang
A City of Sadness | dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien
In the Mood for Love | dir. Wong Kar-wai
The Love Eterne | dir. Li Han-hsiang
The Private Eyes | dir. Michael Hui
Raise the Red Lantern | dir. Zhang Yimou
Sorrows of the Forbidden City | dir. Zhu Shilin
Spring in a Small Town | dir. Mu Fei
Street Angel | dir. Yuan Muzhi
A Touch of Zen | dir. King Hu
Two Stage Sisters | dir. Xie Jin
Yellow Earth | dir. Chen Kaige

OPTION THREE: THE SWERVE TRAILER CHOICE (MARTIAL ARTS FILMS)

36th Chamber
This year’s MIFF trailer: a dig at terrible martial arts movies OR a celebration of the awesomeness that is martial arts cinema? This retrospective would reexamine where the genre sits in film discussion while also providing a diverse section for the more casual – or perhaps niche – audience. While I debated whether to expand the retrospective to include films like Hard Boiled and Police Story, I decided to keep it simple – but just as enticing.

Suggested Screening List
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin | dir. Liu Chia-Liang
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon | dir. Ang Lee
Drunken Master | dir. Yuen Woo-ping
Enter the Dragon | dir. Robert Clouse
Kung Fu Hustle | dir. Stephen Chow
The Legend of Drunken Master | dir. Liu Chai-Liang
A Life of Ninja | dir. Lee Tso
The One-Armed Swordsman | dir. Chang Cheh
A Touch of Zen | dir. King Hu
Way of the Dragon | dir. Bruce Lee

OPTION FOUR: A FOCUS ON THE PHILIPPINES

Graceland
There is little doubt that South-East Asian cinema is growing at a spectacular rate. Indonesia’s The Raid was universally praised, Thailand has a number of internationally respected auteurs and Malaysia is seeing an incredible spike in domestic filmmaking. However, we rarely hear the Philippines being discussed alongside other ASEAN nations. Considering the talent of a number of its filmmakers, though, that should soon change. This section focuses on those talents, including Lav Diaz’s Norte, the End of History, which wasn’t included in MIFF’s Cannes titles announcement but is confirmed for NZFF. It’s time for Melbourne to recognise the cinema of the Philippines.

Suggested Screening List (of New Works)
Aberya | dir. Christian Linaban
The Animals | dir. Gino M. Santos
Graceland | dir. Ron Morales
Memories of Rain | dir. Ato Bautista
Norte, the End of History | dir. Lav Diaz
Rigodon | dir. Erik Matti

Those are four options I would consider for MIFF’s retrospective sections. Which filmmaker or movement would you like the festival to focus on?