The annual Melbourne International Film Festival is one of the big hitters when it comes to culture. The films are handpicked for our little city with stories that will capture our eyes and captivate our hearts. Whether you’re a fanatic film buff or a nervous novice, the MIFF has something for you.
So if you haven’t already circled your picks and tapped their titles into YouTube for the all important trailer screening, leave it to us to recommend some of this year’s top flicks. We’ve catered to every film lovers diet, from the doco fiends to the smooshballs of romance. Grab your phone, start tapping out a group invite and get your fill of some of this year’s best foreign films.
All film descriptions have been taken from the official MIFF website.
BEST AUSSIE FLICKS
Tim Winton’s The Turning
‘In The Turning, Tim Winton turned his peerless eye for the quiet struggles of everyday life upon the seaside town of Angelus, Western Australia. Across three decades and 17 interconnected stories, his story weaves a singular portrait of a remarkable community – one defined by small triumphs, fading dreams and the inimitable Australian coast, by turns both beautiful and dangerous.’
‘Fathers, sons and fireworks sit at the centre of The Rocket, the tale of a seemingly cursed Laotian youngster beset by misfortune at every turn. Only his sheer determination in the face of danger can light the path to a new life, as he endeavours to save his family by figuratively and literally shooting for the sky – with the help of a James Brown impersonator.’
BEST OF ASIAN CINEMA
Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo
‘In 1997 in the midst of a looming financial crisis, Teresa arrives in Singapore from the Philippines with hopes of a better life. There she finds work as a maid for a couple and their troubled son. But as the bond grows between Teresa and the boy, the inertia of this new, unspoken family member soon puts pressure on the parents’ already-strained relationship.’
KangYi-kwan’s Juvenile Offender
‘When 16-year-old Ji-gu gets out of juvenile detention, he’s shocked to discover that Hyo-seung, the mother he long thought dead, is alive. Taken to live with her in her cramped, shared apartment, Ji-gu discovers that when the world outside has deemed you useless, the impossibilities of family are the only thing you have left.’
BEST SHORT FILMS
Accelerator 1 + 2
‘Exhilarating shorts by emerging filmmakers from Australia and New Zealand. See the work of tomorrow’s hottest directors today.’
International Shorts 1 + 2
‘A collection of the finest and most acclaimed short films from around the globe.’
BEST OF THE US
Mike Ott’s Pearblossom Highway
‘Anna and Cory are close friends stuck in small-town California. Cory fronts a punk band and dreams of being cast on a reality TV show to prove he can be a success. Anna is living in the US illegally, studying for her citizenship exam and using prostitution to save up money to visit her dying grandmother in Japan. Despite their friendship both feel lonely and isolated, so when Cory’s older brother, ex-Marine Jeff, they jump at the chance to go with him to San Francisco to meet the man Cory believes to be his biological father and to search, ultimately, for themselves.’
Sean Baker’s Starlet
‘In a San Fernando Valley fired bright with sun, young slacker Jane (Dree Hemingway, daughter of Mariel and great-granddaughter of Ernest) picks up a bargain at gruff, elderly Sadie’s garage sale. When Jane later discovers thousands of dollars hidden in her purchase, she attempts to return the cash to Sadie, and an unlikely bond develops that spans the women’s generations and dislodges long-held secrets.’
Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie And The Boxer
‘Octogenarian alcoholic UshioShinohara is an action artist who punches paint onto canvasses with boxing gloves. His early work gained notoriety in Japan but his career failed to gain traction after moving to New York in 1969. Ushio’s much younger wife, Noriko, is also an artist but sidelined her own work for decades in order to be Ushio’s devoted assistant. Now, with their son fully grown and Ushio finally sober, Noriko is finding recognition for her own work: an autobiographical comic creation named Cutie and Bullie that charts the tensions of their relationship.’
You can see the rest of the program and buy tickets to this year’s festival here.