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By Daniel Lammin
5th July 2013

After months of tantalising hints and avid speculation, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) have announced their line-up for 2013. Combining anticipated foreign and art house event films with undiscovered gems you may never get to see again, MIFF is one of the major highlights of the Melbourne festival season. So, with the printed guide and a hot chocolate, I spent the morning trawling through the hundreds of films on offer. Here are some of those I’ll be making sure to check out:

Spain (dir: dir: Pedro Almodovar)
Almodovar returns with this camp extravaganza set on a commercial flight, where the cabin crew are forced to drug the irate passengers to sleep during a flight delay. A biting satire of Spanish politics, the trailer and early reviews promise an absolute blast with ‘I’m So Excited’, a step in the opposite direction after his brilliant thriller ‘The Skin I Live In’ (2011). This promises to be a hell of an opening night film for MIFF.
One of the most ambitious Australian projects in years, ‘The Turning’ is a collaboration between some of our most remarkable artists, adapting Tim Winton’s bestselling short story collection. Seventeen interconnecting stories culminate in a unique vision of a small Australian community, including directorial contributions from David Wenham, Cate Blanchett, Mia Wasikowska, Tony Ayres, Simon Stone and Robert Connelly. MIFF hosts the world premiere of the project, a three-hour epic unlike anything in the Australian film canon.
USA (dir: Park Chan-Wook)
Already a hit during the Sydney Film Festival, ‘Stoker’ is the highly-anticipated English-language debut from the director of the remarkable Vengeance Trilogy, which included the masterpiece ‘Oldboy’ (2003). This gothic thriller focuses on India (Mia Wasikowska), a teenager grieving the loss of her father. When her mother Evie (Nicole Kidman) invites her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) to stay, however, the dynamics of the family are thrown into unexpected and twisted directions. Everything suggests this is genre filmmaking at its best, and one of the most exciting films in the festival.
USA (dir: Shane Carruth)
The beguiling trailer for ‘Upstream Colour’ doesn’t offer much in the way of narrative, but suggests that this is will be a sensory feast from an exciting new artist. This is Shane Carruth’s first feature since his time-traveller mind-bender 'Primer' (2005), and early reports suggest this is yet another massive manipulation of the sci-fi genre. Reports from the festival circuit, including the Sydney Film Festival, suggest this is a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience.
UK (dir: Paul Wright)
I hadn’t heard of this film till I spied it in the MIFF guide, but the description instantly caught my attention. Set in a remote Scottish fishing village, the film centres on Aaron, a young man who is the only survivor of an horrific boating accident and is ostracised by the superstitious community. Superstition and Scotland are enough to evoke memories of ‘The Wicker Man’, and that alone makes this intriguing enough to take note of. This might be one of those instances of taking a punt on a film you’ve never heard of and being pleasantly surprised.
USA (dir: Ryan Coogler)
One of the most exciting things about the festival circuit is when something unexpected appears out of nowhere and takes the film world by storm, and after taking major prizes at both Sundance and Cannes, ‘Fruitvale Station’ has emerged as just such a gem. With his debut film, Coogler takes on the events of a tragic police shooting in Oakland in 2009 and the shocking death of young man Oscar Grant (Michael B Jordan). We’ll probably be hearing a lot about this film in the coming months, a biting commentary on race, youth and violence.
USA (dir: James Ponsoldt)
Sundance has become the breeding ground for impressive dramas about the tragedy of young love, and this year we have this unanimously acclaimed and award-winning film, charting the friendship and relationship between a charismatic yet troubled Sutter, and shy and unassuming Amy. The powerful trailer suggests this is another cliché-defying classic from the writing team behind ‘(500) Days of Summer’ (2009), and early reviews are already calling it one of the best films of the year.
Ireland (dir: Lenny Abrahamson)
Richard (Jack Reynor) is an eighteen-year old with the world at his feet, until one small mistake shatters his life completely... and this is where I stopped reading, because everything I’ve heard about ‘What Richard Did’ suggests this might be one hell of a film, and one where knowing as little as possible works in its favour. Highly acclaimed in the UK, particularly for Raynor’s work, I’ll be booking a ticket to this one as quickly as possible.
USA (dir: Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
MIFF is a great place to check out the most exciting new documentaries from around the world, and after sending shockwaves through the Sydney Film Festival, ‘Blackfish’ might be one of their real highlights. All I know is that it’s highly original, incredibly disturbing and features killer whales, and, like ‘What Richard Did’, might benefit from knowing as little as possible. Social media went nuts after the SFF screening, and with all those elements in play, this sounds like the definition of a must-see.
Denmark/Norway/UK (dir: Joshua Oppenheimer)
How’s this for a concept? Filmmaker Oppenheimer decides to make a documentary about the death squads during the 1965 Indonesian military coup. In order to recreate the massacres, though, he hands the reigns over to the very men who committed the atrocities and asks them to recreate the killings themselves however they see fit... Do I need to say anymore?
Ireland/Germany/France/Belgium/Luxemborg/Poland (dir: Ari Folman)
Folman took animation and cinema by the throat with ‘Waltz With Bashir’ (2008), and his follow- up suggests this distinctive artist is still intent on pushing the medium as far as he can. Combining live-action and animation, ‘The Congress’ finds actress Robin Wright selling the rights to her identity as an actor, setting her off on a journey of discovery through an animated dreamworld. The trailer looked absolutely nuts, and the concept is bonkers, this is one of those rare cases of true originality you simply can’t ignore.
Australia (dir: Mark Hartley)
Australia joins in on the horror remake craze with this reimagining of the beloved Ozploitation classic. However, with a decidedly more gothic vision, a cast that includes Charles Dance and Rachel Griffiths, and the narrative filmmaking debut of Harley, director of the magnificent doco ‘Not Quite Hollywood’ (2008), ‘Patrick’ might be one of those rare exceptions to the rule, a remake that actually delivers the goods and offers old fans and new something to lose their minds over.

These are only a fraction of what’s on offer at MIFF this coming year. Head over to to check out the full line-up and book tickets, The festival runs from 25th July till 11th August 2013.

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