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:: Spotlight :: 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The Melbourne International Film Festival is excited to announce that a Premiere Fund Film, ‘Not Quite Hollywood’, will open the 57th Melbourne International Film Festival on Friday, July 25 - screening at Hamer Hall.

“To open our festival with a Premiere Fund Film in the first year of its operation is obviously a historic and important moment for us. Mark Hartley’s film is a rigorous and serious film exploring an untold story of Australian film but it’s also tremendously entertaining – I can’t wait to feel the audience reaction to its World premiere screening”, said Executive Director Richard Moore.

In the 70s and 80s a uniquely antipodean wave of exploitation cinema swept the world. Shlocky, sexy and very funny, ‘Ozploitation’ became one of the most prolific and successful periods in Australian filmmaking – and yet it rarely rates a mention in the official histories of cinema. Filled with outrageous anecdotes and lessons in maverick filmmaking, and featuring interviews with celebrity devotee Quentin Tarantino, Not Quite Hollywood is a fast-moving journey through a very Australian slice of genre cinema.

The festival will close on August 10 with the unparallel cinematic experience, a Spanish horror film co-directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. Recorded entirely on “amateur” camera, [●REC] revolves around a television reporter, Ángela, and her cameraman, Pablo, who cover the night shift in one of Barcelona's local fire stations. The firehouse receives a call from an old lady trapped in her house. When they arrive, and the firemen and the police break down the door, the old lady suddenly attacks and bites one of the policemen, and it is revealed that an unknown but virulent disease is infecting people. By the finale they uncover the horrifying truth of the situation and realize the infection may be more than a mere virus. Opening in Spain in late 2007, the film was a phenomenal success that already has a US remake is in the works.

The Melbourne International Film Festival is also pleased to announce that AFI and IF Award winning actor, Eric Bana, is the new MIFF Ambassador. Eric said of his new role, “Coming on board as a MIFF Ambassador makes sense to me – it’s my home town’s film festival and it’s much closer than Cannes, Toronto, Sundance or Telluride! Not to mention, they’re letting me program one of my favourite films of all time – it’s going to be incredible to see Mad Max 2 on the big screen in all its glory. MIFF is in a great position to help showcase, and stimulate local productions and film makers, it is an honour to be invited on board.”

The Ambassador position will complement the role Geoffrey Rush holds as MIFF Patron and will this year include a special screening program. Both Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana will host a special presentation of an Australian film that holds special resonance for them.

Eric Bana has chosen George Miller’s post-apocalyptic outback western, Mad Max 2. Having screened Mad Max to his cast and crew mates during the filming of Romulus My Father, he recently learnt that a new print was available – with Eric introducing the film this screening is going to be one hell of a ride.

THE 2008 MIFF PROGRAM

The 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival will screen over 300 films, including 10 World Premieres and a number of prize-winning films from World-Class festivals, including a record 23 films from Cannes, Sundance, Rotterdam, Berlin and Toronto Festivals. The programme will once again feature the work of world-renowned filmmakers, and more than a couple of unknown gems, in its popular Homegrown and Neighbourhood Watch, International Panorama, Backbeat, Animation Gallery, Next Gen, Forbidden Pleasures, Africa! Africa! and Documentaries series. The most highly regarded short film competition in the Asia Pacific, Best MIFF shorts screens approximately 100 short films, competing for a prize money of AUD$35,000.

New programme strands include:

· Focus on Ozploitation – Inspired by Not Quite Hollywood, co-presented with ACMI and co-curated by Not Quite Hollywood director, Mark Hartley, these legendary works smash their way onto the big screen after prowling the filmic wilderness for decades.

· Romanian Wave – Following the end of the Ceausescus' brutal regime Romanian cinema has emerged to make a mark on international cinema, culminating with 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days snaring the Palme d'Or last year.

· Altered States – Distinguished by their content, style and the fact that the director's original creative vision is maintained in the final film, American Indie Cinema has been reinvigorated in the last decade and now makes up 15% of theatrical releases in the US.

· Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Tribute – To celebrate the 40th edition of the Directors’ Fortnight, MIFF selects films from the past forty years that have either never been screened on the big screen here or have not screened for a long time.

· Night Shift – Extremities of style, form and substance are the order of the night in this section that sold out last year.

· Retrospect on Edward Yang – One of Taiwan’s most influential filmmakers, Edward Yang (1947 - 2007) was one of the leading filmmakers of the Taiwanese New Wave.

· Retrospect on George Romero – Known for his social commentary, Romero is one of the greatest horror filmmakers in the world.

· Border Watch – The political and not-so-political are ever so present in these gems from the Israeli-Palestinian region and the filmmaking styles that emerge from such an inherently political context are diverse and potent as ever.

New to the festival this year is a special Travelling Film Festival at the Cameo Theatre and Geelong, as well as this year MIFF will welcome a new addition to the festival this year, with the Kino Dendy coming on board as a new venue.

For more information, visit

www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au