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:: Spotlight :: 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The 62nd Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has revealed an exciting sneak peek of the 2013 Festival, which runs July 25 - August 11, 2013. Artistic Director Michelle Carey said, “I’m especially excited about the MIFF 2013 program, one characterised by a particular feistiness this year. As we return from one of the strongest Cannes of recent years and put the final touches on the program, here are just a few highlights from it.”

The First Glance selection consists of enchanting, challenging and award-winning films direct from Sundance, Rotterdam, Toronto and Berlin. Highly acclaimed directors including Ken Loach, Laurent Cantet and Sally Potter will be featured, as well as some of Hollywood’s biggest names including Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and MIFF Patron Geoffrey Rush. The First Glance selection also includes innovative short films along with cinema aimed at younger audiences in MIFF’s Next Gen program.

Highly anticipated feature films in the 2013 MIFF line-up include the chilling English language debut from South Korea’s Park Chan-wook, Stoker, starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Jacki Weaver; Călin Peter Netzer’s (Medal of Honor, MIFF '10) gripping Romanian family drama Child’s Pose, winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale; and the sophomore offering from Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner, Shane Carruth (Primer, MIFF ‘05), Upstream Color.

Leading MIFF’s home-grown contingent this year is Tim Winton’s The Turning, where seventeen chapters featuring the work of Australia's finest creative talents – including Cate Blanchett, David Wenham and Rob Connolly – bring to life the best selling short story collection in Australian history; Anna Broinowski’s (Forbidden Lie$, MIFF ‘07) revolutionary film within a film, Aim High in Creation, based on the creative manifesto by North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-il; and writer/director Rhys Graham (Words from the City, MIFF ‘07) tells the story of four teens whose lives are forever scarred by tragedy in Galore.

Australia’s creative talents are also featured in Zak Hilditch’s local take on the apocalypse sub-genre, These Final Hours, starring Nathan Phillips (Wolf Creek); Lynn-Maree Milburn (Autoluminescent: Roland S Howard, MIFF ‘11) shines the spotlight on local Catholic provocateur Father Bob Maguire in the documentary In Bob We Trust; and Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood, MIFF ‘08) reinterprets the classic Aussie horror flick Patrick with Rachel Griffiths, Charles Dance and Sharni Vinson.

Award-winning films at MIFF will be plentiful in 2013 with Jafar Panahi again defying his 20-year filmmaking ban by the Iranian authorities with the Berlinale-winning Closed Curtain; the James Ponsoldt-directed coming-of-age and Sundance Special Jury Prize-winning film The Spectacular Now; Berlinale-winning Gloria featuring a stand-out performance by Paulina García; and a sumptuous re-telling of Snow White in the Goya award-winning Blancanieves.

Young actors continue to make their mark with a devastatingly nuanced performance by 13-year-old Elle Fanning in Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa; and a riveting performance by six-year-old newcomer, Onata Aprile, who plays the title character in the custody drama What Maisie Knew alongside Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan.

MIFF’s indie contingent is strong as ever with Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch starring in David Gordon Green’s Berlin Film Festival award-winner Prince Avalanche and Noah Baumbach adds to his comedic oeuvre with the urban odyssey Frances Ha, starring and co-written by the luminous Greta Gerwig.
Suspense abounds with Geoffrey Rush starring alongside Donald Sutherland in Giuseppe Tornatore’s (Cinema Paradiso) Italian box office smash The Best Offer; Brian De Palma returns with a psychological thriller starring Rachel McAdams, Passion; prolific Japanese actor/director Takeshi Kitano unleashes the sequel to Outrage (MIFF ‘10) with Outrage Beyond; and horror fans will be thrilled by the gore-fest You’re Next (USA), which played to huge acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival and SXSW.

Among the intriguing documentaries screening at MIFF this year is Ken Loach’s call to arms for the Labour movement The Spirit of ‘45; Joshua Oppenheimer’s chilling account of men that became death-squad leaders during the anti-Communist purges following the 1965 Indonesian military coup in The Act of Killing; Sarah Polley’s (Away from Her, MIFF ‘07) first foray into documentary filmmaking with her deeply moving family portrait Stories We Tell; and based on the book by punk author Jon Savage and featuring a score by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, Teenage takes an explosive look at youth culture.

Profiling some of the world’s most colourful characters is this year’s Sundance Directing Award-winner Cutie and the Boxer, featuring an octogenarian alcoholic artist and his younger wife of 40 years; intellectual rockstar Slavoj Žižek returns for an audacious lesson in film history in Sophie Fiennes’ The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology; the rise and literal fall of snowboarding champ Kevin Pearce is the focus of SXSW Audience Award-winning film The Crash Reel; and the animal kingdom comes under the spotlight in Blackfish, a tragic tale about a killer whale in captivity.

The music component of MIFF’s program is sound as ever with Shane Meadows going behind the scenes of the reunion of a pioneering Manchester band in The Stone Roses: Made of Stone; and Jeremy Oxley, front-man for Australian post-punk legends The Sunnyboys, mending the pieces of his broken past in The Sunnyboy.

MIFF’s Shorts program will feature the most innovative, creative and amusing short films from around the world, while the previously announced Next Gen program will provide younger audiences with cinema that explores social and cultural issues they can identify with.

The full MIFF program and guest line-up will be launched on July 2.

e-Mini Passes and Passports are on sale online

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PROGRAM LAUNCHED

The Melbourne International Film Festival launched its 62nd program announcing the full list of 310 films, 17 program strands, 10 World Premieres, 166 Australian Premieres, 26 forums, talks and master classes, 20 international guests and over 60 local guests. Taking over 5 city venues from July 25 - August 11, we know where you can keep warm this winter!

“I’m really happy with how the 2013 MIFF program has shaped up. Certain thematic strands effortlessly suggested themselves, such as Activism on Film and New Arabic Cinema and the retrospectives, Italian Giallo and North Korea on Film, were a lot of fun to put together. Together with a strong Australian contingent and a big international opener and closer, there really is something for everyone at MIFF in 2013” said Artistic Director Michelle Carey.

Opening with the already announced I’m So Excited, Pedro Almodóvar’s over-the-top. biting satire on contemporary Spanish society will be contrasted by the closing night film, the Australian Premiere of All is Lost, which is almost entirely dialogue-free. The talk of Cannes, JC Chandor’s follow-up to the Oscar nominated Margin Call sees Robert Redford shine in his most physically demanding, powerful performance ever.

This year the Festival is marking its halfway point with a special world premiere Centrepiece Gala screening of Tim Winton’s The Turning, a film adaptation of Tim Winton’s bestselling novel The Turning, which consists of 17 chapters – each featuring a different director and stellar cast. Under the guidance of curator Robert Connolly (Balibo, MIFF 09), Mia Wasikowska and David Wenham make their directorial debut amongst acclaimed directors such as Warwick Thornton, Tony Ayres and Justin Kurzel. The MIFF Premiere Fund-supported film also sees stand-out performances from Australian talent including Rose Byrne, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Miranda Otto, Richard Roxburgh, Callan Mulvey, Dan Wyllie, Robyn Nevin, Susie Porter, Wayne Blair and numerous others.

Homegrown filmmaking also shines in the Australian Showcase section, with the world premiere of three MIFF Premiere Fund-supported films: These Final Hours, the feature film debut of writer/director Zak Hilditch, featuring a fresh, local take on the apocalypse subgenre with a cast that includes Nathan Phillips (Wolf Creek); MIFF Accelerator Alumni Rhys Graham’s (Words from the City, MIFF 07) Galore, in which four teens navigate the flashpoint of adolescent relationships; and documentary In Bob We Trust, directed by Lynn-Maree Milburn (Autoluminescent: Rowland S Howard, MIFF 11), which goes behind the scenes with controversial Catholic provocateur Father Bob, documenting one of the most turbulent times in his career: his forced retirement and eviction from the church he called home for 38 years.

Other Australian films include Red Obsession which charts the modern fortunes of Bordeaux’s most famous export; Mystery Road in which Ivan Sen, as scriptwriter, editor, cinematographer and director, has created a stunning film, supported by a cast that includes Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Jack Thompson and Jack Charles; Fallout the untold story of Nevil Shute’s famed novel On the Beach and the film of the same name; Lygon St – Si Parla Italiano, the true story of Melbourne’s most iconic street, as told by the men and women who made it; one of the few films set and shot in war-ravaged Laos, The Rocket is the debut feature from Australian documentarian Kim Mordaunt; and in Persons of Interest, director Haydn Keenan explores four persons of interest – including Roger Milliss, Michael Hyde, Frank Hardy and Gary Foley – and the allegations contained in their previously secret ASIO files.

This year the Festival presents a new spotlight on Arabic Cinema – arising en masse over the past few years, Arabic voices have brought with them an exciting cinematic renaissance. The films in A League of Their Own: New Arabic Cinema present a democratic cultural outpouring of myriad stories from the pan-Arabic world, reflecting on the past, present and future. From Palestinian Territory, director of the Golden Globe-winning Paradise Now (MIFF 05), Hany Abu-Assad returns with his Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize-winning take on the Israel–Palestine conflict, Omar; the debut fiction feature from documentary filmmaker Hala Lotfy, Coming Forth by Day is a rare example of independent Egyptian cinema; the first feature ever shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia, by the country’s first female director, Wadjda is a boundary pushing gem; and adapted from Yasmina Khadra’s much-acclaimed book of the same name, The Attack is the heart-wrenching new feature from renowned Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri.

1970s and 80s cult Italian horror is showcased in the Shining Violence: Italian Giallo spotlight including the most well-known giallo film to date – Dario Argento’s Deep Red and his 1980s return to giallo Tenebrae. Don’t miss Flavio Mogherini's unconventional, Australian-set The Pyjama Girl Case and the Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear winner A Quiet Place in the Country, directed by Elio Petri.

Returning in 2013, This Sporting Life presents films focusing on incredible athletes from the worlds of tennis, boxing, snowboarding, mountain climbing, surfing, motor sports and martial arts. These champion sportsmen and women have pushed themselves to the limits of physical endurance and beyond – and their stories reflect their monumental efforts. While most documentaries have focused on Muhammad Ali's sporting career, Bill Siegel looks at Ali’s toughest bout: his showdown with the American government in The Trials of Muhammad Ali; Uncharted Waters follows Australian Wayne Lynch, “the ultimate soul surfer”, throughout his career; Venus and Serena Williams are not only the most successful sisters in tennis, they’re also amongst the most successful athletes ever – in Maiken Baird and Michelle Major’s revealing documentary Venus and Serena, the siblings’ highs and lows on and off the court are captured over an eventful year. Plus see 1970s Formula One in Weekend of a Champion, a deadly descent from K2 in The Summit, follow three girls at the illustrious Shaolin Tagu Kung Fu School in Dragon Girls plus see firsthand the dangers of snowboarding with Festival guest Kevin Pearce in Lucy Walker’s film The Crash Reel.

From the front lines of Occupy to the Russki rebellions of Pussy Riot, Defying the Times: Activism on Film takes a close eye to the art of resistance and a raised fist in the air to the powers that be. 99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film is an expansive, unprecedented documentary that illustrates the motives and consequences of the movement through the collected footage of more than 100 contributors; focusing on the pivotal post-WWII era in British history, The Spirit of ’45, Ken Loach’s first feature length documentary since 1998’s The Flickering Flame, is a timely, unapologetically polemical call to arms for the Labour spirit that engendered an unprecedented period of progressive politics in the UK, which endured until the rise of Margaret Thatcher; and in Powerless, Kanpur, an industrial town of three million-plus in India, is the image of a modern dystopia: crumbling infrastructure, poverty, pollution and rolling power blackouts. This aptly named film documents, in often hair-raising detail, the common Robin Hood practice of power stealing for redistribution, and the futile attempts of the authorities to stop it.

The always-popular Documentaries program brings MIFF audiences the most astounding, enlightening, outrageous and unbelievably true stories the world has to offer. From Karachi, Pakistan, where 10-year-old runaway Omar grapples with the question of home in These Birds Walk and Brazil where we look at their most important artist of the 20th century in the Berlinale Forum FIPRESCI Prize winning Hélio Oiticica, to New York underground filmmaker Beth B’s giddily trashy and confronting look alternative burlesque scene in Exposed and the aid effort following the 2010 Haiti earthquake in Fatal Assistance, documentaries really can take you anywhere.

Now in its third year TeleScope: Visions from the EU, run in conjunction with Festival Scope, offers an outstanding program of celebrated European filmmaking. From a startling and timely film by writer/director Thanos Anastopoulos’ The Daughter, which showcases his fascination with the human cost of Greece’s fiscal catastrophe, to the sophomore feature from Dutch phenom Jaap van Heusden, The New World, a powerful, quietly told vignette of cautious romance and improbable redemption, TeleScope gives an insight into all facets of EU filmmaking.

This year music fanatics of all tastes can feast on our biggest Backbeat ever. Take a glimpse behind the scenes of The National on tour as they are joined by front-man Matt Berninger’s younger brother Tom, a general layabout, as a roadie in Mistaken for Strangers, a mystifying, hilarious and very much improvised investigation of the relationship between these two extremely different brothers. The backup singers who made great songs greater and enhanced the voices of music icons from Mick Jagger to Stevie Wonder step into the limelight in Morgan Neville’s (Troubadours, MIFF 11) Twenty Feet From Stardom. In Artifact, despite being platinum-sellers, Jared Leto’s Thirty Seconds To Mars hadn’t seen a cent of royalties, so they tried to exit their contract. Their label sued them for $30 million. What began as an object lesson from EMI resulted in a David-and-Goliath struggle between a floundering industry and its indentured servants. And from Australia, charting the colourful three-decade history of the Cosmic Psychos and their enigmatic, entertaining front man, Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust features interviews with band members and grunge icons, as well as raucous archival footage that captures the unadulterated larrikinism of three beer-swilling Aussies taking on the world.

A perennial favourite, Night Shift offers hardy cinema lovers with a taste for the extreme all the blood-soaked brutality, zombies, reanimated corpses, psychedelic madness and Japanese weirdness they can handle. Sitting at the heart of this ten-film-strong program is MIFF Premiere Fund supported feature Patrick, which will have its world premiere at the Festival. Mark Hartley’s re-imagining of the 1978 Ozploitation classic he celebrated in Not Quite Hollywood (MIFF 08), stars Rachel Griffiths, Sharni Vinson (You’re Next, MIFF 13), Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) and Damon Gameau (Balibo, Save Your Legs!). Also see director Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic trip into magic and madness in A Field in England and Takashi Miike’s Lesson of the Evil – which sees him make a triumphant return to the blood-strewn savagery that made his name.

Accent on Asia showcases the always unique and remarkable films from our region. MIFF regulars bring new wares – legendary actor/filmmaker Takeshi Kitano returns to the crime genre with a film that depicts the yakuza as a dysfunctional business, only with more blood in Outrage Beyond; Jia Zhang-ke (I Wish I Knew, MIFF 11) has built an angry, gritty, beautifully shot drama in A Touch of Sin; Hirokazu Kore-eda’s (I Wish, MIFF 12) Like Father, Like Son delivers a gentle and moving story of personal redemption that playfully navigates its way through the drama; and South Korean Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country, MIFF 12, The Day He Arrives, MIFF 11), gives us his most stripped back yet with Nobody’s Daughter Haewon. MIFF is also pleased to present the Australian Premiere of Accelerator alumnus Anthony Chen Ilo Ilo. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival 2013 Caméra d’Or, this beautifully observed, autobiographical slice of life looks at the conflicts that can emerge between cultures while revealing that some relationship troubles are universal.

Also sitting alongside the Accent on Asia program is a special spotlight on North Korea – Juche Days: North Korea on Film, presented in two different ways; Inside the DPRK take us inside one of the world's most unfamiliar countries, to present tales from within the DPRK facilitated by Western filmmakers: an extremely rare Western–North Korean co-production, Comrade Kim Goes Flying is a screwball comedy about a young woman pursuing her individual dream in the face of community disapproval; and a revolutionary comedy about the cinematic genius of North Korea’s late Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, the MIFF Premiere Fund supported Aim High in Creation! sees Australian director Anna Broinowski (Forbidden Lie$, MIFF 07) setting out to make a film-within-a-film, based on the rules of his manifesto The Cinema and Directing. Meanwhile, in Juche Showtime: Films of the DPRK, take the opportunity to sample some films from the world's least seen cinema culture, including Hong Kil Dong, Kim Kil-in's wire-fighting kung fu epic (which has been told on both sides of the North and South), as well as the high melodrama of Jo-kyong-sun's A Broad Bellflower.

Taking the art of storytelling where live action can never go, our Animation Showcase offers mind-bending, captivating and spooky animated films for adults. Bleakly beautiful and told in silvery animation, Padak is a bittersweet allegory of nihilism and resistance from South Korea; The Apostle, Spain’s first stop-motion feature, is a haunting journey into Gothic folklore; and The Congress Ari Folman’s follow-up to Waltz With Bashir (MIFF 08) is an audacious metaphysical sci-fi satire: part live action, part loony animation overflowing with ideas.

International Panorama features a swathe of titles from Cannes which have already been announced, plus; the feature-length debut from MIFF Accelerator alumnus Kazik Radwanski, Tower; in Mood Indigo, the ever-whimsical Michel Gondry reunites Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris (The Spanish Apartment, MIFF 03) for this adaptation of Boris Vian’s uniquely wondrous cult novel Froth on the Daydream; with bountiful betrayal and abundant bitchiness, Passion is a classic Brian de Palma (Redacted, MIFF 08) psychological thriller; and from award-winning director Reha Erdem (Kosmos, MIFF 10; Times and Winds, MIFF 07) comes Jîn, the story of a young Kurdish rebel who breaks away to find life and solace in the wilderness.

SPECIAL EVENTS INCLUDE:
MIFF 53rd Short Awards – MIFF 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 and the winners are eligible to submit for nomination at the 2014 Academy Awards. The MIFF Shorts Awards Ceremony takes place Sunday 4 August.

Talking Pictures – Discussions designed to have you pondering, chatting and arguing about all things cinematic with the Festival’s guests.

Planetarium Fulldome Showcase – The return of MIFF’s fulldome projection screenings at Melbourne Planetarium, Australia’s longest operating planetarium, just got better. Having recently undergone a major technology upgrade, the new fulldome projection system together with a 7.1 surround sound system will be showcased in two special programs.

Over 300 films make up the 62nd Melbourne International Film Festival program, the largest and oldest film festival in Australia.

The full program is now available online
General public can purchase tickets from Friday July 5.

Melbourne International Film Festival runs 25 July - 11 August 2013.

For more information, visit

www.miff.com.au