The Melbourne International Film Festival is one of the highlights of the Australian cinema calendar. With the 2019 festival just weeks away, tonight's line-up announcement brought an exciting collection of international debuts, exciting Australian offerings and thrilling documentaries. So what's on offer?
There was already a great collection disclosed as part of MIFF's sneak peak. The festival opens with the world premiere of the Adam Goodes documentary 'The Australian Dream', written by Walkley award-winner Stan Grant. 'Little Monsters' takes the Centerpiece Gala crown, with "Lupita Nyong’o as a ukulele-playing, zombie-slaying kindergarten teacher", this Sundance gem is definitely set to be a talked-about offering. The Family Gala for 2019 is the world premiere of 'H is for Happiness', an adaptation of Barry Jonsberg’s acclaimed young adult novel, 'My Life as an Alphabet'.
There were a huge number of premieres pre-announced too, including the world premiere of Aussie psychological thriller 'Angel of Mine' starring Noomi Rapace, Richard Roxburgh and Luke Evans, and Aussie premieres of Ai Weiwei's latest cinematic extravaganza 'The Rest', Academy Award-winning director Charles Ferguson’s in-depth investigation into the scandal that brought down a president in 'Watergate', Venice Film Festival award winner 'What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?', an exquisite portrait of life in New Orleans, and 14-hour epic 'La Flor'.
There are also a great collection of MIFF Premiere Fund Films, including 'Measure for Measure' (Hugo Weaving and Maziar Lahooti), 'Below' (Ryan Corr and Anthony LaPaglia), 'No Time for Quiet' (Courtney Barnett), 'Iron Fists & Kung Fu Kicks' (Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan), 'A Family' and 'Buoyancy'.
If the first announcement was drool-inducing, the full line-up was simply jaw-dropping. Jewel in the MIFF crown is Quentin Tarantino's ode to cinema 'Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood', starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Damon Herriman, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Damien Lewis and Luke Perry.
'The Farewell' was announced as the festival's Closing Night Gala film. Director Lulu Wang’s film is based on an actual lie, following Chinese-born, US-raised Billi (Awkwafina), who returns to Changchun to find a dark family secret as they farewell their dying grandmother.
There's set to be a slew of great Australian films on offer at this year's MIFF. Following a wildly successful run at the Sydney Film Festival, ‘Judy & Punch’ is set to wow Melbourne audiences with Mirrah Foulkes' fresh reimagining of the traditional puppetry tale with Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman. Also direct from SFF, 'Hearts and Bones' sees Hugo Weaving directed by filmmaker Ben Lawrence. 'Collingwood: From The Inside Out', an intimate look at the AFL club, while 'Emu Runner' is an Indigenous coming-of-age drama from first-time Australian director Imogen Thomas. This year also sees the return of 'Gayby Baby' director Maya Newell with 'In My Blood it Runs', focusing on Indigenous children of the Northern Territory.
From abroad, we'll also see the spectacular French historical drama 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' from writer/director Céline Sciamma, which took out Best Screenplay at Cannes. The latest film from beloved indie filmmaker Xavier Dolan 'Matthias & Maxime' will have its Australian premiere at MIFF; this time around, he looks at two childhood friends whose feelings for each other slowly come to the surface. Harmony Korine is following up 'Spring Breakers' seven years later with 'The Beach Bum', starring Matthew McConaughey as free-spirited Moondog as we follow his laid-back misadventures. 'Long Day's Journey into Night' is something different altogether - a 55-minute 3D film shot in a single take.
With 259 feature films, 123 shorts and 16 virtual reality experiences, the 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival is sure to be an entertaining experience. With focuses on music on the big screen, a spectacular dedicated virtual reality program, a stream of films focusing on our environment, and a Jeff Goldblum movie marathon, it's guaranteed to keep film lovers busy this August.
The Melbourne International Film Festival runs from the 1st to 19th August 2019. For more information on the full line-up and tickets, head to www.miff.com.au. You can also check out some of our MIFF reviews in the related articles below, and check back closer to festival launch for even more comprehensive coverage.