The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) gave us a “first glance” at their line-up today, and there are plenty of familiar titles to get excited about in a diverse and fascinating collection of films.
The crossover with the upcoming Sydney Film Festival is perhaps more than expected, with at least sixteen of the films revealed thus far screening in Sydney before heading down to Melbourne. This includes both the SFF Opening Night Film, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard’s hybrid documentary 20 000 Days On Earth, and the Closing Night Film, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s New Zealand vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. Other notable double-ups include Richard Linklater’s twelve-years-in-the-making Boyhood, Xavier Dolan’s psychological thriller Tom at the Farm, Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice, Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves, and Frederick Wiseman’s At Berkeley among a host of others. Even Steven Knight’s Locke is screening as part of SFF’s travelling sidebar in Newcastle before it opens in Melbourne.
Of those films screening at both festivals, many have already screened internationally in notable festival line-ups – both Tom at the Farm and Boyhood come fresh off their Berlin appearances, while What We Do in the Shadows and Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins have already screened at Sundance. Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster is an even more extreme case of circuit exhaustion, despite its international appearences and the film being nominated for two Academy Awards earlier this year, MIFF will have the Australian premiere.
Though Australian premieres may be somewhat thinner on the ground, Melbourne have announced seven Australian films that will be making their world premiere, including Kill Me Three Times, a new film from Kriv Stenders (whom most will remember for Red Dog) and starring Simon Pegg, whilst the Spierig Brothers open the festival with Predestination, following their other Ethan Hawke-led venutre, Daybreakers (2009). Other world premieres include Tony Ayres’ Cut Snake, Stephen Lance’s My Mistress, Mike Hartley’s documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, Ian Pringle’s The Legend Maker, and Robert Connolly’s Paper Planes. These films were all supported by the festival’s Premiere Fund, which since 2008 has funded new Australian feature films and documentaries that will then make their premiere at the festival. The Fund’s previous recipients include Anna Kokkinos’ Blessed (2009), Rachel Perkins’ Bran Nue Dae (2009), and last year’s collaborative effort from various directors, The Turning. Interestingly enough, both Connolly and Hartley have previously participated in the program, with Balibo and Not Quite Hollywood, respectively.
While Sydney’s line-up typically draws quite heavily on Sundance and the Berlinale, Melbourne is generally in a position to survey those films emerging from Cannes for that year and include them in their programme. It is interesting then that this year’s line-up thus far features no Cannes titles as such – instead screening quite a few Berlinale and Sundance alumni. Perhaps as Cannes finally winds down, we’ll see more crossover, but for now this first glance at least is less dominated by the Croisette than is usually expected.
In the midst of all this, it was announced today that the Brisbane International Film Festival will be not be taking place this year due to the G20 Summit. The festival has instead be postponed for a year, a decision that was ratified by Screen Queensland last Friday. The festival is typically run by Screen Queensland, although it has been suggested recently that the state funding body is reconsidering this arrangement. There is also speculation that the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, which also take place in Queensland as an initiative of the Brisbane City Council, might absorb the film festival. BIFF has seen some scandal recently, with the current interim chief, Jennie Hughes, had to step in following allegations that the previous chief executive, Bryan Lowe, bullied the staff. Lowe has denied the charges. Given that the festival has not named an alternative date, nor has it yet opened submissions to filmmakers, it is quite possible that we will see the disappearance of this chapter of the Australian festival circuit.
The full MIFF line-up so far can be found here.