65th Melbourne International Film Festival launched

MIFF Hell or High WaterCelebrating its 65th edition, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has revealed its full program with a blockbuster lineup of over 345 films including 244 features, 92 shorts, 24 world premieres and 157 Australian premieres – taking place over 18 days, spanning 22 venues across the Melbourne CBD from 28 July 2016.

“We’re so excited to launch this year’s MIFF program, which offers abundant opportunities for festival goers to get out of their comfort zones,” said MIFF Artistic Director Michelle Carey. “In 2016, we’ve cast our nets wider than ever with a huge program ranging from an eight-hour Filipino opus to Poland’s first horror-mermaid-musical. And in a very special program, MIFF audiences can also enjoy technologically advanced filmmaking during our not-to-be-missed Virtual Reality experiences.”

The festival will open with the world premiere of The Death and Life of Otto Bloom – the debut feature from Melbourne filmmaker, Cris Jones. A time-bending love story supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, the film stars Xavier Samuel, Matilda Brown and Rachel Ward – who are all set to walk the blue carpet for the glittering Opening Night celebrations on Thursday 28 July 2016..

Marking the festival’s halfway point is Abe Forsythe’s Down Under – a rip-roaring black comedy set during the aftermath of the Cronulla riots, which screens as the festival’s Centrepiece Gala. The festival will go out with a bang on Closing Night when it screens the Cannes hit Hell or High Water – an entertaining neo-Western directed by David Mackenzie. With a screenplay by Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan, the film boasts a first-class ensemble cast featuring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges.

In 2016, the Kids Gala returns as part of the all-ages Next Gen program with the red-carpet Australian premiere of the 3D film, Kubo and the Two Strings. An animated film featuring the voices of Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Art Parkinson (Game of Thrones’ Rickon Stark), and George Takei, it was directed by Travis Knight, the Oscar-nominated lead animator of Coraline (MIFF 2009).

MIFF is also proud to present the world premiere of Joe Cinque’s Consolation. Based on Helen Garner’s award-winning book, and directed by MIFF Accelerator alumnus, Sotiris Dounoukos, the film is an emotionally complex and chilling true-crime drama. It joins a strong line-up of world premieres at this year’s festival, including six MIFF Premiere Fund supported titles: The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, The Family, Ella, Monsieur Mayonnaise, Emo the Musical and Bad Girl.

MIFF will welcome director Mat De Koning for the world-premiere of his film, Meal Tickets – painting a cautionary insider’s tale about the realities of the new musical landscape; and US director Matthew Jones will also be in town on behalf of The Man from Mo’Wax – a no-holds-barred insight into the extraordinary James Lavelle and the record label he co-founded with Tim Goldsworthy.

This year MIFF introduces Headliners – a brand new section celebrating the most-anticipated A-list festival hits and award-winners – all to be screened in the grandeur of The Comedy Theatre. MIFF will welcome director Terence Davies with his long awaited passion project, Sunset Song – featuring a career-making performance from model Agyness Deyn.

Also screening in Headliners is Ben Wheatley’s High Rise – a thriller starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss; Bruno Dumont’s Slack Bay – a whimsical farce starring Fabrice Luchini, Juliette Binoche and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi; Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women – starring Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart as three women trying to sustain love and find connection; and the Cannes hit Paterson – a tender portrait of a bus driver poet, played by Adam Driver.

MIFF’s always thought provoking Documentaries program returns with films including Tickled – which starts as an investigation into the world of ‘competitive endurance tickling’ and soon takes a darker turn. Other documentary highlights include: Cameraperson – taking viewers inside the global career of cinematographer, Kirsten Johnson, who lensed The Oath, as well as the Oscar-winning Citizenfour; and The Eagle Huntress – set in the mountains of Mongolia where a teenage heroine learns the ancient, and previously male-only, art of falconry.

Continuing to show the explorative power of film, MIFF will welcome Roger Ross Williams, the winner of the Award for Best Directing (US Documentary) at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. His film Life, Animated is a powerful emotional experience about a young boy with autism, who is able to open up through animated Disney films.

MIFF will also celebrate dance, visual artistry and movement with an exhilarating program of films in the new program strand Dance on Film. Director Celia Rowlson-Hall, no stranger to working with filmmakers Lena Dunham and Gasper Noe, will be a guest of MIFF with her debut feature Ma – a contemporary, choreographic road movie re-imagining the Virgin Mary’s story.

Also joining the Dance on Film line-up is Reset – a portrait of Benjamin Millepied, the choreographer for Black Swan, as he undertakes his first year as the Paris Opera Ballet director; and Kiki – a film about marginalised and often brutalised LGBTQI youth-of-colour, who competitively dance the 21st century offspring of ballroom.

MIFF’s Night Shift will keep horror fans and night owls on their toes with a line-up including The Lure – winner of the Sundance Special Jury Prize for World Cinema, and Poland’s first vampire mermaid musical featuring dance, sex, violence, fantasy and high comedy; The Eyes of My Mother, directed by music-video prodigy Nicolas Pesce, who carves his name indelibly into the psyche with one of the most memorable horror films in recent memory; and Under the Shadow – a film following in the tradition of the acclaimed Farsi-language hit, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – from first-time feature film director and MIFF guest, Babak Anvari.

In Australian Showcase, MIFF will welcome director Rosemary Myers and actor/writer Matt Whittet alongside the feature Girl Asleep – a wonderfully eccentric modern day fairytale about female adolescence; director Rowan Woods and actor David Wenham will be guests of the festival on behalf of The Boys – screening via a newly restored print and coinciding with a national conversation around violence against women; and, presented in association with the National Film and Sound Archive, the 25th anniversary restoration-screening of MIFF guest Jocelyn Moorhouse’s debut feature, Proof – in which our special guest Hugo Weaving stars alongside Russell Crowe.

The MIFF Shorts program delivers an impressive range of international award-winners across 10 short film packages and pre-feature screenings, and in a specially curated program MIFF presents a series of nine Virtual Reality (VR) experiences by Australian and international filmmakers, exploring this exciting new filmmaking medium.

MIFF’s immensely popular annual program of jaw dropping Fulldome Screenings at the Melbourne Planetarium returns for 2016. A truly unique cinematic experience, these screening enable festival goers to lie back and immerse themselves in surround sound and super high-resolution images projected onto a 180-degree hemispherical dome screen.

Capping off a huge program is MIFF’s Talking Pictures, presented by AFTRS, designed to have festival goers discussing all things cinematic with festival guests – and diving deep into the themes and ideas featured in this year’s program. The Festival’s Industry Programs Unit will also present talks and masterclasses open to the public via the MIFF 37° South & Accelerator: Public Access Events.

The 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival runs 28 July – 14 August. The full program is now available online. For more information visit www.miff.com.au for details.

Image: David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water