By our film reporter
MELBOURNE, 9 July 2014: The city in for a big celluloid experience never before experienced. With a potpourri of feature films, documentaries, short films, international and local film guests and movie related events the 63rd Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF-2014) is kicking off on 31 July and goes on till August 17. Film buffs are in for a treat.
The Festival launched its full program last night, consisting of 341 films, 17 program strands, 28 world premieres, 168 Australian Premieres, 19 Talking Pictures events, 24 international guests, and more than 71 local guests.
“With new venues and a broader footprint over our wonderful CBD, 2014 sees a new MIFF with more sessions giving the ravenous film-goer greater choice than ever. To close it off in style, we are thrilled to present the Australian Premiere of FELONY, directed by Melbourne filmmaker Matthew Saville, written by and starring Australian acting icon Joel Edgerton alongside Melissa George, Tom Wilkinson and Jai Courtney,” said Artistic Director Michelle Carey.
Opening MIFF with the already announced Predestination, a stylish thriller from Australian filmmaking duo the Spierig Brothers, this year’s festival marks its half-way point with the world premiere Centrepiece Gala screening of Cut Snake, a crime thriller from director Tony Ayres (Home Song Stories, MIFF 07).
A new program strand, I Dream of Genius: Science & Technology on Screen showcases the practical, philosophical and potential facets of science and technology in our lives. Web Junkie is an engrossing look inside one of China’s prison-like rehabilitation camps for internet-addicted teens; Happiness, winner of Sundance’s World Cinema: Documentary Award for Cinematography, follows the introduction of television into a remote Bhutan village; and the Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience Award winner, Particle Fever, tells the story of the Large Hadron Collider’s discovery of the Higgs boson “God particle”.
MIFF will go beyond the glossy Bollywood façade to present an authentic portrait of contemporary Indian life via the spotlight India in Flux: Living Resistance, co-curated with Shweta Kishore. Showing audiences another side of one of the world’s most rapidly developing nations, this documentary program includes: Invoking Justice, an inspiring and intimate picture of Muslim sisterhood and collective action directed by Deepa Dhanraj; and Anand Patwardhan’s multi-award-winning Jai Bhim Comrade, which shines a light on a centuries-old conflict in Mumbai drawn along caste lines, where people are denied everything and forced to live in a world of scorn and prejudice.
In a sign of the times, MIFF has curated a new program Celluloid Dreams: Films Shot on Film, showcasing works that fully embrace 20th century celluloid technology to give their 21st century cinematic storytelling a unique edge. Offerings include: Happy Christmas, in which wildly prolific lo-fi auteur Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies, MIFF 13) reunites with Anna Kendrick for a candid and wry exploration of ‘adultescence’; Hard to Be a God, inspired by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky’s sci-fi novel of the same name, from the late enfant terrible of Russian filmmaking Alexei German; and Manakamana, a rhythmic meditation on pilgrimage in the age of mass transportation, set in central Nepal’s mountains and jungles.
This year MIFF delivers a retrospective on Jean-Pierre Léaud co -curated with Philippa Hawker. Known as the child of the French New Wave, Léaud has a gift for physical comedy, a singular approach to dialogue, and a distinctive presence. The retrospective will include screenings of François Truffaut’s classic film, The 400 Blows, a bittersweet tale of a misunderstood adolescent, which went on to become one of the cornerstones of the French New Wave; and Out 1 – Noli me tangere, Jacques Rivette’s (Céline and Julie Go Boating, MIFF 75; La belle noiseuse, MIFF 92) most ambitious work: a mostly improvised 12-and-a-bit-hour serial set in the studios, cafés and streets of Paris – and destined to be a rare and special cinematic experience for MIFF audiences!
Taking the art of storytelling beyond the bounds of live action, this year’s Animation program features new work from and about big-name animators and animation studios, as well as anime masterworks and documentaries. Michel Gondry’s Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? takes Noam Chomsky’s philosophical and linguistic work, and interprets it via the director’s own unique style, translating theories and ideas into tangible animations; legendary cult animator Bill Plympton (Idiots and Angels, MIFF 08), a perennial MIFF favourite, returns with Cheatin’; and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by award-winning filmmaker Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, MIFF 97), is the tale of an old bamboo cutter who discovers a tiny girl inside a bamboo stalk.
MIFF venues for 2014 include Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall; Forum Theatre; Kino Cinemas, a Palace Cinemas Partner; ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image; Hoyts Cinemas, Melbourne Central; Treasury Cinema; and RMIT Capitol Theatre.
SPECIAL EVENTS INCLUDE:
MIFF 54th Shorts Awards – The festival features one of the most highly regarded short-film competitions in the Southern Hemisphere. This year the eligible short films are competing for a total cash prize pool of $42,000. The MIFF Shorts Awards Ceremony takes place Sunday 10 August.
MIFF’s Talking Pictures – A program designed to have audiences discussing, questioning and arguing all things cinematic with the festival’s filmmakers and personalities, opening the box on the issues and ideas in this year’s program.
Jerusalem 3D – For this special IMAX film, director Daniel Ferguson gained unprecedented access to Jerusalem’s most sacred sites, guided by archaeologist Jodi Magness, to present breathtaking visuals of them alongside rare aerial footage, resulting in a stunning cinematic experience. Screenings at IMAX.
Planetarium Fulldome Showcase – MIFF is excited to again present a special program of jaw-dropping fulldome screenings at the Melbourne Planetarium.
The Closing Night screening of FELONY takes place 16 August at Hoyts Cinemas, Melbourne Central. The MIFF program will be online at miff.com.au and in The Age on 11 July.
- SAT News Service