Melbourne International Film Festival has today unveiled a first glance look at their 2015 slate ahead of the full program release on 10 July. Included are some exciting prospects of different program strands, retrospectives and some great Australian premieres, combined with the expected overlap with films playing at Sydney Film Festival in June. Although it’s too early to draw broad inferences of the programming, the auspicious teaser suggests a particularly strong line-up of American independent filmmaking alongside the expected prestigious foreign dramas.
Perhaps the biggest news for cinephiles is the announcement of Portugese director Pedro Costa’s Horse Money, winner of the Best Director prize at Locarno last year, screening to rave reviews as another outing in the Colossal Youth helmer’s inimitable style. Combined with the second Lav Diaz film in two years (From What Is Before, also showing at SFF) and last year’s Tsai Ming-Liang double-header in Stray Dogs and Journey to the West, MIFF has firmly established itself as the strongest champion of contemplative cinema in the Australian film landscape. Indie sensation Alex Ross Perry’s latest, 2015 Berlinale-premiering film Queen of Earth also makes its Australian premiere, another collaboration with Mad Man star Elizabeth Moss after her terrific turn in last year’s Listen Up Philip. The Witch, the highly acclaimed debut from Robert Eggers, is a 1600s-set psychological thriller which should be one of the most awaited titles after its Best Director win and raves from Sundance. Also from Sundance, James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour comes with a lot of buzz in particular for Jason Segal’s transformative performance as the late, great Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace, tipped to be an early contender for next year’s Oscars.
Melbournites can also rest assured that many of the highlights of this year’s Sydney Film Festival are heading their way as well, including yet another Sundance sensation in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Jafar Panahi’s third film after his home arrest and ban from filmmaking in Tehran Taxi makes another stop in Melbourne, with other SFF Official Competition selections Sherpa and Tangerine, alongside North American indie masters Guy Maddin (The Forbidden Room), Andrew Bujalski (Results) and Larry Clark (The Smell of Us). Australian filmmaking is also well represented, with Neil Armfield’s coming-of-age drama Holding the Man selected as the Centrepiece Gala.
The documentary selection looks promising also, with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence and Albert Maysles’ Iris playing alongside Australian premieres in City of Gold, a chronicle of the the only Pulitzer winning food writer Jonathan Gold, and 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, a striking account of the murder of an unarmed African-American teenager in 2012.
Another Country will headline a special retrospective of legendary Australian actor David Gulpilil. Full description to come, but we can only hope outrageous genre pic Mad Dog Morgan makes the cut alongside the likely Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg) and collaborations with Rolf de Hoer.
Perhaps most intriguing of all is the announcement of the experimental program Vertical Cinema, exploring the possibilities of the filmic form when projected in tall, narrow spaces as opposed to the traditional laterally based projection. Commissioned films from renowned filmmakers and audiovisual artists, these will be projected on 35mm form and should be an essential experiment for anyone with even a passing interest in the form itself.
Melbourne International Film Festival runs from 30 July until 16 August, and more information can be found here. Stay tuned for our coverage of the Festival, and have a look through our coverage from last year here.