One of the reasons many patrons go to Australian festivals is to see the best of local cinema, weeks and months (and sometimes years) before they get a general release. New and old faces come together in the terrific Australian Showcase section at this year’s MIFF, and to help you make the hard decisions, we’ll be giving two picks in each of our four categories.
Being Venice | dir. Miro Bilbrough
Playing at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, Bilbrough’s debut feature shot in Western Sydney explores the painful relationship between a father and daughter. Featuring a soundtrack by Andrew Lancaster and David McCormack, and what some have described as a European sensibility, this is a stark and honest effort.
Hail | dir. Amiel Courtin-Wilson
Not for everyone, this visceral and unforgettable experience was one of my favourite films at last year’s Adelaide and Sydney film festivals. Strong performances from Daniel P. Jones and Leanne Letch create an authenticity to the central relationship, packed with raw emotion. Loose camerawork, scenes of verbal and physical assault and hallucinatory visual metaphors won’t find widespread appreciation but to a dedicated audience, this will be one of the highlights of the festival.
KNOWN FILMS YET TO SCREEN AT AN AUSTRALIAN FESTIVAL
The Sapphires | dir. Wayne Blair
MIFF’s Opening Night feature has gained worldwide attention after being picked up by The Weinstein Company at Cannes, and this adaptation of the successful stage musical is already receiving widespread praise. Featuring a strong Motown soundtrack and a heartwarming tale, this is one for the masses.
Save Your Legs! | dir. Boyd Hicklin
Australian audiences got a brief introduction to the film at this year’s AACTA Awards, and this “coming of middle age” comedy following a Melbourne cricket team seems to contain all the right ingredients. Shot on location in Melbourne and India, written by actor Brendan Cowell, and also starring Stephen Curry and Damon Gameau, this looks like a strong Australian comedy.
THE DARK HORSES
Lasseter’s Bones | dir. Luke Walker
Following up his controversial Beyond Our Ken, Walker returns to MIFF with an extraordinary documentary about Lewis Harold Bell Lasseter, a man who claimed to have sited a 7-mile gold reef in central Australia and died in the desert in 1931, and his 85-year-old son who has spent 50 years trying to vindicate his father’s assertions. Employing interviews, maps, and footage from expeditions, Walker not only attempts to establish what the truth is, but also examine the complex nature of obsession.
Last Dance | dir. David Pulbrook
Editor David Pulbrook makes his directorial debut with the MIFF Premier Fund-supported Last Dance, a drama based on a hostage situation involving an injured terrorist bomber and a Holocaust survivor, shot in St Kilda. Failing to take sides, Pulbrook presents both characters’ lives in a humane fashion, revealing similarities and an understanding between the two. An intriguing prospect.
THE TWO MUST-SEES OF OUR FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Errors of the Human Body | dir. Eron Sheean
Starting as a Kick Starter project back in 2011, Eron Sheean has followed up his screenwriting role on the post-apocalyptic thriller The Divide with his feature-length directorial debut Errors of The Human Body. Starring Michael Eklund, Karoline Herfurth, Tomas Lemarquis, and Rik Mayall, the film follows a scientist who makes a breakthrough while working on a human regeneration gene. This is an original, interesting, and well shot feature that serves as a parable for the science of our time.
The Sapphires | dir. Wayne Blair
The festival’s Opening Night feature contains an incredible soundtrack, a joyous story and performances from Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Deborah Mailman, and Chris O’Dowd. Having already received widespread acclaim, The Sapphires is one not to miss.
Hopefully this list helps decide your picks in the section. If you have already bought tickets to Australian Showcase films, we would love to know your choices and your most anticipated of the category!