Another year, another huge Melbourne International Film Festival ahead of us. To help wade through the immense list of films playing at MIFF this year, we will be breaking down each section of the program with our recommendations. Due to the small selection of films in the following sections, we have decided to choose what sessions we would like to see in each of them. With picks from Accent on Asia, Juche Showtime: Films of the DPRK, and A League of Their Own: New Arabic Cinema, enjoy this feature preview of the MIFF program. Stay tuned for more!
Harmony Lessons | dir. Emir Baigazin | KAZ
From the Berlinale, where it took out the Silver Berlin Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution and the Reader Jury Prize, Baigazin’s poetic first film focuses on a teenage boy’s ostracism from the rest of his schoolmates. With stunning direction, cinematography, and performances in the dissection of a universal issue, Harmony Lessons announces the debut of a new voice in film.
Like Father, Like Son | dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda | JPN
The Nobody Knows and Still Walking director continues his exploration of familial relationships and responsibilities in his 2013 Cannes Jury Prize winning film. Kore-eda is certainly not new to the genre, and each examination of these themes has yielded even greater results. Another tender feature from the Japanese director, this is one to savour.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? | dir. Arvin Chen | TPE
Arvin Chen’s film comically plays with traditional approaches to partnerships and opens up the borders of the nuclear family to explore the forming of bonds, friendship and sexual fulfillment. This is a strong and charming follow-up effort from the director of Au Revoir Taipei that again displays his undeniable talent.
JUCHE SHOWTIME: FILMS OF THE DPRK
Hong Kil Dong | dir. Kim Kil-in | DPRK
Sword play, wire-work, and plenty of blood: that should be enough to get viewers enticed for the 1986 kung-fu epic Hong Kil Dong. Following a bastard child who learns kung-fu from a kind-hearted master and becomes the Robin Hood of Korea, this action-packed martial arts film also highlights the ever-present tensions between the DPRK and Japan. This should leave audiences very satisfied.
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: NEW ARABIC CINEMA
The Attack (L’attentat) | dir. Ziad Doueiri | BEL/EGY/FRA/LIB/QAT
A gripping co-production set around a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, The Attack ponders what it’s like to discover that someone you thought you knew inside-and-out is a completely different person. A sensitive film without political agenda, the film depicts a society filled with a flurry of motivations, and looks to be an engrossing tale.
Wadjda | dir. Haifaa Al Mansour | KSA
The first feature ever made in Saudi Arabia happens to be by its first female filmmaker. An intimate story of a ten year-old girl’s desire to own and ride a bicycle, the film offers outsiders a glimpse into the country’s society and the courage and perseverance necessary in the face of gender inequality.
A World Not Ours | dir. Mahdi Fleifel | LIB/UK
After screening recently at the Arab Film Festival, Mahdi Fleifel’s personal documentary on the six-decade history of the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Helweh in Lebanon should not be missed. Combining documentary footage with video archives and home movies, his conversations with the camp residents reveal grievances with not just Israel, but Lebanon and their own political leaders. A refreshing take on an issue often entirely misunderstood.
Hopefully this list helps decide your picks in the sections. If you have already bought tickets to any films in Accent on Asia, Juche Showtime: Films of the DPRK, or A League of Their Own: New Arabic Cinema, we would love to know your choices and your most anticipated in each category!