First glance at the Melbourne International Film Festival

Holding the Man_AARThe 64th Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF),  has unveiled its First Glance selection; an exciting program of experimental film and audio-visual artistry in Vertical Cinema; a David Gulpilil retrospective; and the Centrepiece Gala screening of Holding the Man.

“Melbourne audiences have so much to look forward to in this year’s MIFF program including, for the first time in Australia, the spectacular international force that is Vertical Cinema,” said Artistic Director Michelle Carey.

MIFF is thrilled to announce Neil Armfield’s film adaptation of the much-­loved Timothy Conigrave book Holding the Man as this year’s Centrepiece Gala – marking the halfway point of the festival.

The story of the author’s long-­term love for John Caleo, his Melbourne high school’s football captain, Holding the Man charts their 15 year romance through passion, discrimination, illness and tragedy. Starring Ryan Corr as Conigrave and Craig Stott as Caleo, the film also features Sarah Snook, Guy Pearce, Anthony LaPaglia and Kerry Fox in supporting roles.

The First Glance selection also includes the best features and documentaries from around the world, contemporary Shorts, six local films world premiering as part of the previously announced MIFF Premiere Fund program, and cinema that can be enjoyed by the whole family in the already announced Next Gen program.

Celebrated films from the international festival circuit include the bittersweet, subversive coming-­of-­age tale, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (USA), winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award; Jafar Panahi’s Tehran Taxi (Iran), awarded the Golden Bear for Best Film at Berlin, featuring the director driving a cab around the streets of the Iranian capital.

Pedro Costa (Colossal Youth, MIFF 06), recipient of the Best Director award at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival, returns with the visually striking Horse Money (Portugal); and Lav Diaz (Norte, the End of History, MIFF 14) delivers From What is Before (Philippines), a deeply affecting social drama, awarded the Golden Leopard at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival.

Offbeat gems include the new Guy Pearce starring romantic comedy Results (USA), set in the world of Texan gym trainers, directed by Andrew Bujalski (Computer Chess, MIFF 13); Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, MIFF 08) unleashes his latest blend of silent film tropes, Freudian sexuality and unconventional humour in The Forbidden Room (Canada), co-­directed with Evan Johnson; and director Sean Baker (Starlet, MIFF 13) shoots an entire film on jacked-­up iPhones for a wildly subversive ride through the transgender culture of Los Angeles in Tangerine (USA).

Suspense abounds in Phoenix (Germany), a highly atmospheric thriller set in post-­war Berlin, from director Christian Petzold (Barbara, MIFF 12); The Witch (USA/Canada), the story of a puritanical family living in the mist-­shrouded woods of New England in the 1630s, from debut feature filmmaker and Sundance Directing Award winner Robert Eggers; and Queen of Earth (USA), a psychological drama about an unravelling friendship between two women starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, from writer/director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, MIFF 14).

Tales of disaffected youth can be found in Larry Clark’s (Wassup Rockers, MIFF 06) The Smell of Us (USA), with the director’s focus shifting from America to explore teen alienation on the streets of Paris; and Ben Safdie and Joshua Safdie co-­direct Heaven Knows What (USA), a ravishing, operatic love story between two addicts set in the streets of New York, winner of the Grand Prix and Best Director awards at the Tokyo Film Festival.

Male relationships come under the spotlight in Nasty Baby (USA), the winner of the Teddy Award for Best Queer Film at the Berlin Film Festival, starring director Sebastián Silva, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and Kristen Wiig; Force of Destiny (Australia), a highly autobiographical film about director Paul Cox’s (Human Touch, MIFF 04; Innocence, MIFF 00) liver cancer diagnosis and subsequent meeting with the love of his life, starring David Wenham.

The End of the Tour (USA), from director James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now, MIFF 13), a revealing take on writer Dave Lipsky’s tour with literary legend David Foster Wallace, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segal; and The Ground We Won (New Zealand), a funny, against-­type tour through grassroots rugby union that offers a fresh look at both sport and manhood.

With some of the most urgent and intriguing documentaries from around the globe, the First Glance selection includes The Wolfpack (USA), the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, tracing the lives of six brothers living together in a Manhattan apartment with their controlling parents; and Racing Extinction (USA), Louis Psihoyos’ gripping follow-­up to his Oscar-­winning documentary The Cove, presenting an impassioned call to action for the future of the planet.

Race relations remain prominent with the world premiere of Another Country (Australia), screening as part of a David Gulpilil retrospective, exploring the actor’s Ramingining community and the fundamental clash between the Indigenous way of life and Government policy; and 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets (USA), an acclaimed documentary investigating Black Friday 2012, when a middle-­aged white man fatally shot an unarmed black teenager at a gas station.

Vivid depictions of American culture can be found in City of Gold (USA), a portrait of the world’s only Pulitzer prize-winning food writer and cult icon Jonathan Gold, who journeys through LA’s rich melting pot of international cuisine; and Iris (USA), the last full feature film by acclaimed documentarian Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, MIFF 01), who captures the world of New York fashion icon Iris Apfel.

In another Australian first, Sonic Acts’ Vertical Cinema proposes a new future for filmmaking through cinematic experiments designed for projection in a tall, narrow space. The project rethinks the actual projection space and returns it to filmmakers inviting them to expand the cinematic image onto a new axis. It proposes a future for filmmaking rather than a pessimistic debate over the alleged death of film.

Vertical Cinema consists of a series of ten commissioned large-­scale, site-­specific works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, which will be presented on 35mm celluloid and projected vertically with a custom-­built projector in vertical cinemascope. The films, made by artists from Austria, the Netherlands and Japan, will be screened live presenting a unique blend of abstract cinema, structural experiments, found footage remixes, chemical film explorations and live laser action.

The 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival runs 30 July – 16 August 2015. The full MIFF program will be launched 7 July 2015 with public tickets on sale 10 July 2015. Centrepiece Gala tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Holding the Man