Time Out says
Melbourne turns into a city of movie freaks every August – here are some highlights of Australia’s oldest film festival in 2019
Melbourne’s bleak winter always has a silver (screen) lining in MIFF: an 18-day binge of Australian films, contemporary world cinema, documentaries, retrospectives, discussions and special events.
The full program has been announced and the big news is that they've nabbed the Australian premiere of Quentin Tarantino's latest excursion into pop culture and extreme violence, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The movie will screen at the Astor during the festival's opening weekend, ahead of the film's general release on August 15.
Following on from last year's Nic Cage-a-thon comes an all-night Goldblum Marathon – 12 straight hours of movies featuring Jeff Goldblum including The Fly, Independence Day, Earth Girls are Easy and Thor: Ragnarok.
Another hot ticket will be Lulu Wang's bittersweet comedy The Farewell, which dramatises the true story of a Chinese-born American (played by Awkwafina) who returns to Changchun to find that the whole family knows its beloved matriarch has ony weeks to live, but 'Nai Nai' has no idea.
The Nightingale from Jennfier 'The Babadook' Kent has polarised viewers with its searing depiction of sexual assault and revenge in colonial Van Diemen's Land, and the film will screen at MIFF. Also bound to raise eyebrows is Young Ahmed from brilliant Belgians the Dardenne Brothers, depicting an Islamic teenager who comes under the sway of an extremist.
Pedro Almodóvar's new, autobiographical film Pain and Glory, featuring Antonio Banderas in his Cannes award-winning role, is screening, as is The Dead Don't Die, the laconic all-star zombie film from veteran hipster Jim Jarmusch starring a host of actors who have appeared in his films since the 1980s (Bill Murray, Tom Waits, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, et al).
Among the Australian films screening is Kairos, starring an actor with Down Syndrome, Chris Bunton (Down Under, Little Monsters); Sequin in a Blue Room, an exploration of technology and youth sexuality from recent AFTRS graduate Samuel Van Grinsve and an audience favourite at the Sydney Film Festival; and Morgana, a documentary about a woman who reinvented herself as a feminist porn star.
Made for Measure relocates Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure to the housing commissions of Prahran. The original and best Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Swedish actor Noomi Rapace, stars alongside The Handmaid’s Tale’s Yvonne Strahovski, Richard Roxburgh and Luke Evans in the world premiere of Kim Farrant’s Melbourne-set thriller Angel of Mine. Another hot-ticket Australian film will by Mirrah Foulkes’ feminist fantasy Judy & Punch starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon ‘Tarantino’s Charles Manson’ Herriman.
Maya Newell (Gayby Baby) has made a searing documentary about an Indigenous child in NT, In My Blood It Runs. And Australian director Sophie Hyde has adapted Emma Jane Unsworth’s novel Animals with co-stars Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger.
There's plenty to see on the theme of music. After the Screaming Stops has been hailed as one of the greatest rock documentaries of all time even through its subject is Luke and Ben Goss – famous for a nanosecond in the 1980s as pop duo Bros.
Suede: The Insatiable Ones tells the remarkable story of Britpop survivors Suede, charting their meteoric rise, catastrophic challenges, ignominious split and triumphant return. PJ Harvey fans won't want to miss A Dog Called Money, a documentary that follows Harvey during the recording of the 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project.
Opening Night film in 2019 is the world premiere of a landmark investigation into race and national identity, Stan Grant’s documentary The Australian Dream. Based on Grant’s essay of the same title, the film follows the fallout when a young AFL fan racially abused star player Adam Goodes during a match.
The festival’s Centrepiece Gala is a hotly anticipated horror-comedy Little Monsters, from writer-director Abe Forsythe (Down Under). Lupita Nyong’o (so scary in Us) stars as a kindergarten teacher who needs to save her class from a ravening plague of zombies. The Kids’ Gala, meanwhile, is H for Happiness, based on the book My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg, in which 12-year-old Candice Phee faces a tough adolescence complicated by grief.
Provocateur Harmony Korine is back with The Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConnaughey. Tilda Swinton stars alongside her daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, in The Souvenir, a widely acclaimed coming-of-age story from director Joanna Hogg about a shy student who becomes involved with an untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). On the subject of toxic males, Untouchable is a documentary chronicling the fall of Harvey Weinstein and features interviews with several women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
Other documentaries cover corrupt US presidents (Watergate), life in New Orleans (What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?) and the refugee crisis (Ai Weiwei’s The Rest).
In Fabric is a stylish horror-comedy from UK director Peter Strickland (The Duke of Burgundy) concerning a deadly designer dress that kills everyone who wears it. Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets and Lies) stars with Julian Barratt and Gwendolyn Christie.
Teenage bandits living rough with a hostage lose their link to a command structure and go rogue in Colombian thriller Monos, depicting the madness of child soldiering.
Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Rhys Ifans star in Official Secrets, about Katharine Gun, a UK intelligence whistleblower who tried to stop the Iraq War. Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Art of Self-Defence, a takedown of toxic masculinity in which an accountant takes up karate.
MIFF has a number of exciting live music events this year including two concerts at Hamer Hall by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Cave and Ellis will perform suites from film scores they have composed together such as The Proposition, The Road, Hell or High Water, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, West of Memphis and Wind River.
Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore will be performing live in a special concert at the Astor Theatre, consisting of music that he composed to accompany works from experimental filmmaker Maya Deren. Moore will also appear in conversation at the Wheeler Centre.
Also uniting live performance and cinema is the festival’s Hear My Eyes event. Zambian-born neo soul artist Sampa the Great will perform live to a screening of Girlhood – director Céline Sciamma’s acclaimed portrait of young women of colour growing up in the Paris projects.
Five new festival venues have been announced for MIFF. The Capitol Theatre returns, alongside the Penary at MCEC, Arts House, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins Auditorium, and Cinema Nova.
Melbourne International Film Festival takes place Aug 1-18. Opening Night, Centrepiece and Family Galla tickets are on sale now. All other tickets go on sale Friday July 12.