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By Ashley Teresa
13th July 2022

It’s been a long three years, but Melbourne’s cultural crowning jewel, the Melbourne International Film Festival, is finally back and gracing the city's cinema screens for the event's 70th year. Scooping up the hottest Cannes titles, a number of world premieres, and collaborations with Aussie cinema heavyweights for in-person conversations, this year’s line-up is both a homecoming and celebration of cinema in the highest order. Of course, for those of you feeling a bit anxious about the large crowds that will bustle through the doors of such cinemas as ACMI, Hoyts Melbourne Central and The Astor Theatre every evening (or, heaven forbid, if you need to isolate during the festival), online streaming service MIFF Play will also once again be showcasing some of the top picks to enjoy from the comfort of your home.

With 257 feature films, 102 short films and many more experiences to choose from, whittling down your schedule this year will be nothing short of herculean. But never fear, dear SWITCH readers! I’ve combed through the plethora of pictures and done the hard work to bring you the cream of the cinematic crop. Here are my top 5 unmissable recommendations from this year's line-up.

1) 'Dual'
Riley Stearns' delightfully deadpan dark comedy 'The Art of Self-Defence' was one of the highlights of the 2019 edition of the festival, so there’s no doubt his follow up feature will show up on many a MIFF wish list. Starring Karen Gillian ('Thor: Love and Thunder') and Theo James (TV's 'The Time Traveler's Wife'), 'Dual' poses an unusual question: what if your clone, commissioned to replace you in the event of your death, fit into your life better than you ever did? I, for one, can't wait to find out.

Playing Saturday 6th August and Saturday 20th August.

2) 'Three Thousand Years Of Longing'
I’d be mad to write about an Australian film festival and not mention the latest offering from George Miller, one of the most ingenious and consistent stars in our industry’s constellation. Idris Elba ('Sonic the Hedgehog 2') is pitch-perfect casting as a genie who happens upon scholar Alithea Binnie's (Tilda Swinton, 'Memoria') hotel room, offering her three wishes if she frees him. Eye-popping visuals, chaos and twists aplenty ensue.

Playing Saturday 6th August 6 and Friday 12th August.

3) 'Love and Other Catastrophes'
Those wanting to dig a bit deeper past the MIFF headliners will be delighted to find a curated selection of essential Australian cinema. Among these is Emma-Kate Croghan’s 1996 debut romantic comedy centred on two Melbourne University roommates Mia (Frances O'Connor, 'The Conjuring 2') and Alice (Alice Garner, 'Jindabyne') and their struggles through such world-shattering twenty-something conundrums as finding a new roommate and navigating messy dating politics. Come for the nostalgia of 1990s Melbourne, stay for a story that has managed to stay both relevant and impactful after 26 years.

Playing Thursday 11th August and on MIFF Play.

4) 'Moonage Daydream'
One of the Cannes debuts to grace MIFF screens is a shimmering, 140-minute odyssey through the life of David Bowie. In an unprecedented move, director Brett Morgen ('Cobain: Montage of Heck') worked in cooperation with Bowie's estate and with never-before-seen footage of his music, artwork and journals to pay truest homage to Bowie’s singular approach in life and art. 'Moondage Daydream' will exclusively play through the festival on Carlton’s IMAX screen, one of the biggest in the world, ensuring that the journey is as maximalist and all-consuming as Bowie himself. This documentary is an experience not to be missed for both film and music lovers alike.

Playing Friday 12th August, Saturday 13th August, Sunday 14th August and Friday 19th August.

5) Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Let's face it - trying to fit all the films we want to see at MIFF in is exhausting, and one wouldn’t be blamed for wanting to find the sweeter, breezier corners of the line-up as a soothing balm in between the heavy-hitting documentaries and Cronenberg-brand body horror. Developed from a viral internet video of a tiny, decorated talking shell, 'Marcel the Shell with Shoes On' sounds like a perfect fit, yet it has managed to captured the hearts of American audiences with its improvised humour and deceptively sorrow core. It may only clock in at a brief 90 minutes, but expect to walk out with a lump in your throat and to become part of the films cult following.

Playing Tuesday 16th August and Sunday 21st August.

Bring on the lines, the rush across the CBD to your next screening, black puffer jackets (the unofficial uniform of MIFF festival-goers), dipping into an unfamiliar bars for a pre-movie cocktail, and discussing future classics with a stranger in the seat next to you. MIFF is back, baby!

Melbourne International Film Festival 2022 runs in cinemas from 4th to 22nd August, while MIFF Play is available online from 11th to 28th August. Check back closer to the festival as SWITCH reviews films from across the festival!

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