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:: Spotlight :: 2005 Melbourne International Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The 2005 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is here from July 20 to August 7, 2005. With over 400 films from filmmakers ranging over 50 countries, it will be nineteen dream days for cinema lovers.

An annual celebration of the best in world cinema, the Melbourne International Film Festival is the largest and most successful film festival in Australia and the longest running film event in the Asian Pacific region, celebrating 54 years in 2005.

This internationally renowned festival runs across five centrally located venues within Melbourne's central business district. The festival runs across five centrally located venues within Melbourne's CBD, with the Festival Hub providing a focal point for activity within Melbourne's beautiful gothic Forum Theatre.Over the past five years, the festival has enjoyed unparalleled success in Australia both critically and publicly, providing your brand with an opportunity to connect with something that is both prestigious and grassroots. The festival enjoys by far and away the largest attendance of any film festival in Austalia.
Over the past five years, the Festival has enjoyed unparalleled success both critically and publicly, with 2004 attendance levels reaching 178,000.

We take a look at the Australian Showcase.

The domestic film industry has experienced a rocky entry into the 21st century, producing some distinctive filmmaking talent amidst continued self-flagellation. In 2005, MIFF continues to showcase home grown works, screening a string of programme features, documentaries and shorts by Australian filmmakers.

Following a wildly feted appearance at Cannes 2005 Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek, one of the most internationally anticipated local film of the year will be screening as part of the Festival’s Australian Showcase. “We’re absolutely delighted to have secured this bold horror film,” said MIFF’s Executive Director, James Hewison, “and immensely proud that it will be enjoying its first public Australian screening at our Festival. “Wolf Creek has caused a sensation at Sundance, then Cannes now MIFF,” continued Hewison, “and our Festival-goers will be the first to see why!”

Look Both Ways is the astonishing debut feature of Sarah Watt, which interweaves animation and real-life drama to portray some very human responses to barely fathomable events. Set over a sweltering weekend, the film’s seven characters receive news of personal tragedy, which results in their lives being brought into proximity in intriguing ways. In Jewboy (Cannes Film Festival 2005), a young man recently returned from Israel turns his back on his strict Chassidic community, instead yearning to experience freedoms that are forbidden by his religion. A sensitively observed exploration of the tension between traditional values and modern life in contemporary Australia, Jewboy announces the abundant talent of director Tony Krawitz.

Love can be allusive at the best of times. Starring Tony Ryan and Niki Owen, Blacktown, by Kriv Stenders,
delivers a movingly acted tale of love and hope in a world of desperation. And Scott Ryan’s distinctive ‘mockumentary’, The Magician, tells the fictional story of Melbourne hit man Ray Shoesmith, as he’s trailed by a young filmmaker who records his daily routine - warts and all.

Documentaries take a proud place in this year’s Australian Showcase. Told You I Was Ill: The Life and Legacy
of Spike Milligan[/b] is an intimate portrait of comic genius and manic-depressive Spike Milligan, largely told through his surviving family, who present a picture of a loving, yet ultimately complex man, whilst Girl in a Mirror looks at the life of Carol Jerrems, an extraordinarily talented photographer who documented Australia’s counter-culture until her untimely death in 1980 at just 30. The Remarkable Mr. Kaye is Paul Cox’s affectionate tribute to the great Australian actor Norman Kaye and two very different documentaries, Rash and Skip Hop explore varying aspects of our urban culture; the former investigating Melbourne’s infamous street-art scene, and the latter charting the path of Australian hip-hop.

With a female protagonist who measures a lofty 188cm, wields a whip and yearns for a career in the funeral
industry, Jabe Babe: A Heightened Life looks at Jabe, a singular, 31 year-old woman, who lives on margins of society. Suffering from a rare condition called Marfan Syndrome, with a life expectancy which expired 6 years
earlier, Jabe lives like there’s no tomorrow in Janet Merewether’s documentary which questions society’s desire for sexual, visual and genetic conformity. And using music, archival footage and interviews, award-winning filmmaker Tom Zubrycki’s Vietnam Symphony tells the astonishing true story of the teachers and students from Hanoi’s Conservatorium of Music who fled to the countryside during the US bombing of 1965 and re-established their school by building an entire campus, complete with a 500-seat auditorium, underground.

Here is the full list.

Blacktown - Kriv Stenders
Girl In A Mirror - Kathy Drayton
Goodbye Paradise - Carl Schultz
High Or Dry - Brodie Higgs
I Told You I Was Ill: The Life and Legacy Of Spike Milligan - Cathy Henkel (and Spike Milligan)
Jabe Babe - A Heightened Life - Janet Merewether
Jewboy - Tony Krawitz
Little Fish - Rowan Woods
Look Both Ways - Sarah Watt
Magician, The - Scott Ryan
One Day - Julian Knowles
Rash - Nicholas Hansen
Remarkable Mr. Kaye, The - Paul Cox
Satellite - Ben Speth
Skip Hop - Oriel Guthrie
Space Travel - Stuart McDonald
The Marey Project - James Clayden
Vietnam Symphony
Wolf Creek - Greg McLean

European Focus

The 54th Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) will turn its gaze to Europe with the Spotlight, New Europe: Visions from the Edge. The effects of globalisation coupled with the tensions and shifting politics of Europe are giving rise to edgy new visions from the Continent. The output of these filmmakers is symptomatic of an immediate future that appears far less certain and optimistic than it once did, with the disintegration of moral and social order close at hand.

“From Russia to France and Finland to Poland, New Europe explores a vast region with myriad cultures and experiences, dreams and aspirations,” said MIFF Executive Director James Hewison, “it is these very differences and divergences that have thrown up, in some cases, a radical and progressive cinema - far from socialised norms and expected freedoms.”

The renowned Lukas Moodysson fires a salvo into a bleak social world with his film A Hole in My Heart, a disturbing exploration of emotional disconnection, morality and reality TV; Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s multi award-winning debut, 4, will satisfy viewers with an eye for the imaginative and an ear for the industrial. From its explosive opening, this is a highly idiosyncratic film about contemporary Russia; The acclaimed Claire Denis’ innovative and enigmatic The Intruder distils the visual and aural economy she achieved in Beau Travail. Through a ‘pure’ cinematic language, Denis portrays the story of one man’s quest for a new heart away from the traditions of Europe, and the physical and metaphysical journeys on which this quest takes him; Vít Klusák and Filip Remuuda’s doco Czech Dream is a delicious and telling satire of rampant consumerism - and perhaps an acknowledgement of the power of media manipulation.

Other highlights include; Frozen Land, a beautifully realised, though uncompromising and fearless film where disparate characters share a common destiny, indeed tragedy; renowned writer Robin Campillo’s debut They Came Back proposes what if the people who died in the last 10 years stepped back into their old lives and therefore loved ones? Less zombie film than an austere psychological enquiry They Came Back is a tour de force; While Uno delves into the world of petty crime in urban Oslo, Stranger follows the emotional journey of a young 22 year old Polish girl.

Emergence: Women Filmmakers from Europe
MIFF introduces audiences to an emerging generation of remarkable European women directors. Malgosia Szumowska’s Stranger and Magrida Cardoso’s The Murmuring Coast exemplify this singular, bold, eclectic and emotionally intelligent cinema about women, told from a woman’s perspective.

One of the Special Events is ACCELERATOR

The Accelerator programme gives emerging writer/directors from Australia, New Zealand and one lucky filmmaker from beyond our shores the chance to learn from the experienced guests of the festival as well as local industry professionals.

Accelerator will provide a dynamic programme of seminars for these 15 emerging filmmakers. Enabling them to shift through the gears in their development as directors or producers in an environment which will fast-track not only the skills in their craft, but increase their industry knowledge, contacts and develop a better sense of the dynamics and possibilities of cinema internationally. With presentations, workshops, meetings and screenings from international and local industry specialists, Accelerator will provide these developing filmmakers with a good foothold on the industry. Accelerator will take place over 4 days at the start of MIFF (July 22-25) and this year will emphasise the importance of collaboration and consider opportunities both here as well as internationally.

2004 Accelerator participant, Taika Waititi will present his new short film Tama Tu on Opening Night.

Accelerator is a Melbourne International Film Festival initiative in partnership with the Australian Film Commission, Film Victoria, in association with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

For all the information you need about the 2005 MIFF - tickets, venues, programme updates, etc, go to their website



Here are some previews from our reviewer Sarah Maddox:

Cama Adentro (Live In Maid)
Live in Maid is the debut feature of Argentinean director Jorge Gaggero whose current work including this feature and Vida en Falcon, a feature length documentary nearing completion, focus on the economic crisis currently occurring in Argentina. The film has screened at the San Sebastian Festival in Spain and will be shown at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Beba a member of the Argentinean upper middle class hasn’t lifted a finger in her life, as Dora, her live in maid, has been with her family for 30 years. It is just the two women left now in the big, lonely apartment after the inevitable pressures of a number of failed businesses broke up Beba’s marriage and her daughter grew up and moved away.

The already complex relationship that exists between the pair, the rigid rules inherent in the class structure in direct contrast with the years of shared experiences and companionship, is further complicated when Beba finds herself no longer able to pay Dora. The silent battle of wills that ensues is both telling and touching as the film explores the impact on the day to day lives of two individuals of a problem spanning the entire nation.

The film features incredible performances from both the female leads, Norma Aleandro, a veteran of cinema, one of the leads in The Official Story which won Best Foreign Language Film in 1985 and has been nominated for numerous cinematic awards including an Academy Award, Golden Globe and also Norma Argentina, a traffic cop and housekeeper for 20 years in her first ever performance.

Duration: 87 minutes
Language: Spanish

Hong Kong director Fruit Chan whose body of work will be featured at the Melbourne International Film Festival this year will also present his latest feature Dumplings. The director of Duran Duran, Hollywood Hong Kong and Public Toilet has ventured into a new genre with this incredibly well crafted, stomach churning, horror film shot by Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle. The films central character Mei (Bai Ling) has stumbled across secret to the fountain of everlasting youth, the mysterious ingredient in her dumplings which only the idle rich can afford and the morally bankrupt can stomach.


Punk Attitude
Punk Attitude is the latest documentary by Don Letts, a 1970’s DJ who is credited with single-handedly turning a generation of punks onto reggae before he went on to form Big Audio Dynamite and direct over 300 music videos. Letts will be a guest at this years Melbourne International Film Festival. Punk Attitude features interviews with everyone from Henry Rollins to Jim Jarmusch and live footage of The New York Dolls, The Sex Pistols, Fugazi and Nirvana to name just a few. Rather than tracing the history of the punk music scene, the film seeks an answer to the question, never mind the bollocks, what is punk?


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