Photography sourced from the internet
EXT. MELBORNE CITY – NIGHT
It is July 25th, 2013. A cold, gloomy evening. Grey clouds hang low over the Melbourne skyline as the sun begins to set. A man in his late twenties, dressed in a smart black trench coat, presses forward against the bitter cold winter wind. His hair ruffles as he makes his way through the bleak, grey city streets. Rain begins to fall.
Great. Just when I thought today couldn’t get any worse…
Suddenly he spots a warm glow up ahead. Approaching, he sees the lights of The Arts Centre spilling out onto the street in front of him. The joyful sounds of Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited softly caress and delight his ears. The man steps inside, out of the rain. His nostrils fill with the smell of popcorn and his heart begins to fill with joy. Inside it is warm, friends linger in the lobby chatting to one another. There is a palpable excitement in the air. The man spots a ticket counter in the corner. He removes his coat and begins walking toward it, and suddenly he realises – everything is going to be alright after all…
And so begins the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). Running from July 25th to August 11th the festival provides Melbournians a staggering number of international and local films to enjoy. MIFF is Australia’s largest film festival and with more than 300 films screening there is more than enough to keep even the biggest cinephile happy.
Browsing the mammoth number of films screening at this years festival can be simultaneously exhilarating and extremely daunting. Where the hell do I start? Well, this year’s opening night pick, Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited, the follow up to his brilliantly loopy 2011 film The Skin I Live In, is a pretty safe bet. While perhaps not as well received as some of his earlier work, it is guaranteed to be entertaining at the very least. Similarly, Tim Winston’s The Turning, screening as the festival’s Centrepiece Gala, has been generating some great buzz. It is an epic collection of 17 interconnected short films created by some of Australia’s most acclaimed actors and directors. There are also many gems scattered throughout the festival proper. Such as Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha which has been garnering some very high praise internationally (think Woody Allen meets French New Wave meets GIRLS) or David Lowery’s hotly anticipated Ain’t Them Bodies Saints starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.
But MIFF isn’t just about getting a chance to see great films well before their official Australian release date, it’s also about seeing weird and wacky films, odd and affecting films that will likely never be screened outside of the festival circuit. Films such as the sweet and moving Singaporean tale Ilo Ilo, or the trippy, part live action, part animated sci-fi film The Congress, or the visually astounding fishing boat documentary Leviathan… the list goes on.
And this is one of the great joys of MIFF – there is something to cater for all tastes. Are you a fan of Italian horror masterpieces? Check out a film or two in the “Shining Violence: Italian Giallo” selection. Perhaps you are interested in seeing some very rare films from North Korea. The “Juche Showtime: Films of the DPRK” has you covered. Just a big fan of Aussie films? Plenty to choose from in the “Australian Showcase”. Got some younger viewers to please? Look no further than the “Next Gen” selection. No matter who you are or what mood you’re in, MIFF almost undoubtedly has a film for you.
However the best way to discover the wonders that the festival has to offer is to jump on the MIFF website, download the app or grab yourself a paper guide, then find some films that sound like they might be interesting and simply buy a ticket. Take a chance. Because nothing beats sitting in a cinema as the lights dim and not knowing what to expect. That’s where the real joys of MIFF can be found – in the surprises. In the twists and turns. In the films that transport you somewhere you would never have anticipated. These are the films that are the most memorable, and the most rewarding.
That is what MIFF is all about.
The Melbourne International Film Festival runs from July 25th to August 11th at various cinemas throughout Melbourne.
More information including bookings can be found at www.miff.com.au.
Matthew is a well-traveled movie addict and occasional blogger. He studied film at the University of Melbourne and currently works as part of the DVD team at Madman Entertainment.