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 Masters and Restorations, Night Shift, and States of Play: American Independents, enjoy this feature preview of the MIFF program. Stay tuned for more!
Ain’t Misbehavin | dir. Marcel Ophüls | FRA/SUI
Woody Allen took dates to see this filmmaker’s famously censored documentary, and Marcel Ophüls returns to the big screen with a reflection on his own life and career. And the director of The Sorrow and the Pity has quite a life to look back on: from his childhood as the son of director Max Ophüls to anecdotes involving Jeanne Moreau, Otto Preminger, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and Francois Truffaut – all of it lovingly retold here. A lighter look at the memorable life of an important filmmaker.
Rewind This! | dir. Josh Johnson | USA
This is a film for every person who lived during the age of VHS, with its fuzz and static, and the horror that was Extended Play recordings. While long obsolete, the format had a major influence on the film industry, as smaller studios were able to access audiences beyond traditional cinema exhibition. Rewind This! is a love letter to the format that brought film home.
A Field in England | dir. Ben Wheatley | UK
The English director serves up his fourth film in as many years with a black-and-white psychedelic period drama about English Civil War deserters forced to take hallucinogenic mushrooms and dig for buried treasure. The first UK film to be released simultaneously on all formats, this is a surreal and unnerving effort featuring all of the director’s signature trademarks. A must for fans of his previous works.
Lesson of the Evil | dir. Takashi Miike | JPN
It’s a new Takashi Miike slasher film about an English teacher with severe antisocial personality disorder who systematically murders the students and parents of an elite high school. Need I say more?
Magic Magic | dir. Sebastian Silva | CHI/USA
One of two Sebastian Silva films starring Michael Cera this year – the other being the drug-fuelled comedy Crystal Fairy – Magic Magic sees Australian actress Emily Browning starring alongside Juno Temple in a psychological thriller set in the south of Chile. What was meant to be a retreat in the countryside turns into a tense affair as Temple’s character is haunted by Cera’s malevolent treatment and soon begins to lose her grip on reality.
STATES OF PLAY: AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS
Drinking Buddies | dir. Joe Swanberg | USA
Showing incredible promise across eight years of features, including 2007′s Hannah Takes the Stairs starring Greta Gerwig and Mark Duplass, Joe Swanberg finally takes on a proper studio budget to create his most refined film yet. Working with cinematographer Ben Richardson (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and boasting a cast that includes Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, this relationship drama-comedy looks set to improve on the director’s best elements, leaving viewers entirely satisfied.
Pearblossom Hwy | dir. Mike Ott | GRE/USA
One of the unexpected gems at MIFF 2011 that had everyone talking was Mike Ott’s LiTTLEROCK. Writer-actress Atsuko Okatsuka and actor Cory Zacharia are both back for the director’s follow-up, which continues to look at the themes of disillusionment and coming of age while blending improvisation with real-life elements of the actors. This is another distinctive effort from Ott that many should look forward to seeing.
The Unspeakable Act | dir. Dan Sallitt | USA
Sallitt bravely tackles the taboo subject of incest with surprising candour in this coming-of-age film that examines the complexities of human interaction. Another bold effort from the independent filmmaker, The Unspeakable Act might finally bring Sallitt the recognition he deserves.
Hopefully this list helps decide your picks in the sections. If you have already bought tickets to any films in Masters and Restorations, Night Shift or States of Play: American Independents, we would love to know your choices and your most anticipated in each category!