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 This Sporting Life, Italian Giallo, Animation, Next Gen and the Shorts, enjoy this feature preview of the MIFF program. Stay tuned for more!
The Trials of Muhammad Ali | dir. Bill Siegel | USA
Covering Ali’s battle to overturn a five-year prison sentence for refusing military service in Vietnam, Siegel’s documentary explores the issues of race, faith and politics at a time when the sports figure chose faith over fame and fortune. The charismatic Ali guides the film and the wealth of archival footage should have viewers enraptured by this remarkable story.
Deep Red | dir. Dario Argento | ITA
An entry point for those unfamiliar with the giallo genre, Argento’s 1975 film follows a musician who witnesses the murder of a psychic medium in his apartment building and attempts to solve the case. Featuring twists of fate and gruesome deaths, this is a terrific introduction to giallo.
The House of Laughing Windows | dir. Pupi Avati | ITA
Featuring an intricate plot and an impending sense of dread that only heightens as the film progresses, The House of Laughing Windows begins with the simple restoration of a rural Italian village fresco before becoming a brutal murder mystery. A striking and intelligent allegory of post-war Italy, Avati’s film is one of the genre’s best.
The Congress | dir. Ari Folman | ISR
The follow-up to the incredible animated-documentary Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman’s The Congress premiered in the Director’s Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews. Loosely based on the novel The Futurological Congress, the film sees Robin Wright give up her likeness and acting career to a studio so they can create a digital version to use in any manner they wish. While it might not please everyone, the film contains plenty of discussion points – including the future of women and society in a technologically advanced age.
Capturing Dad | dir. Ryota Nakano | JPN
This coming-of-age film sees two sisters attend the funeral of a father they never knew, and are then left to deal with his relatives. Capturing Dad contains a surprisingly wicked sense of humour but still provides a touching portrayal of family dynamics. A strong selection in the Next Gen line-up.
The Day of the Crows | dir. Jean-Christophe Dessaint | FRA/BEL/CAN
It might look like a film just for children, but this hand-drawn animated feature is an incredibly moving debut from Dessaint. Featuring forest spirits and dealing with themes including the childhood transition and the persecution of outsiders, The Day of the Crows would not be out of place in the Studio Ghibli canon. This raw yet beautifully crafted effort should captivate audiences at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
SHORT FILM PROGRAMS
I’m incredibly interested to see how Melbourne audiences will react to this selection of shorts – particularly opening film Undress Me, which serves as a litmus test for the rest of the program. Desire Shorts also features Holy Motors’ Edith Scob in Clay, as well as parents coming to terms with their teenage children being sexual beings in For Dorian and The Gift.
International Shorts 2
While Australian Shorts features an incredible collection of films containing The Captain and Perception, I could not look beyond the International Shorts 2 program. This selection of international gems includes the 2013 Short Film Palme d’Or winner, Safe; a stunning mosaic of Palestine in the post-revolutionary Arab world in Though I Know the River is Dry, and the British short Beat starring the always-impressive Ben Whishaw.
Hopefully this list helps decide your picks in the sections. If you have already bought tickets to any films in This Sporting Life, Italian Giallo, Animation, Next Gen or Shorts, we would love to know your choices and your most anticipated in each category!