Our Programmers' Hot Tips
Overwhelmed by choice this MIFF? Want the insider's picks to help you narrow down your selections? We asked our trusty programming team to give us their Under the Radar tips.
Artistic Director Michelle Carey
ARABIAN NIGHTS VOLS 1, 2 AND 3
Miguel Gomes’s epic, three-part look at modern-day people living in a post GFC Portugal, as told through the structure of the Arabian Nights (including a Sheharazade narrator!). It combines documentary and fiction elements for something truly indescribable. There are some extra treats in store for enthusiasts of finches, exploding whales and the Carpenters. There's also a great interview here with Gomes.
A surprising, very simple tale of three men and some hidden treasure. Wry black comedy from the great Corneliu Porumboiu, one of Romania’s greatest directors – with one of the most wonderful endings of any films at MIFF.
QUEEN OF EARTH
A tense film about friendship between two women (Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men and Katherine Waterston from Inherent Vice) and the lengths that friendship can be stretched. Reminiscent of 70s Polanski and Fassbinder. From the director of Listen Up Philip but very different altogether.
MY GOLDEN DAYS
Excellent, sprawling French drama (with lots of light moments) that follows a young man and the elusive love of his life, as they grow into adults and encounter politics, espionage (yes!), sex, jealousy and 90s hip hop. Watch out for the Melbourne reference in this one! A warm, energetic film that you won’t want to end, from the director of A Christmas Tale, Arnaud Desplechin.
May not be for all tastes but if you are looking for something different, try this. Eugène Green’s film is set in a very picturesque Italy of architecture, young Italians and hilariously entitled Australian tourists (this scene is a real highlight of the film!).
HILL OF FREEDOM
A very short and very delightful film from Hong Sang-soo. Such a simple conceit as a woman chances upon a whole stack of letters from her lover (now in another country), drops them, and then reads through them in a not very chronological order, with the plot playing out accordingly, which makes things fun and unpredictable for the audience.
A MIFF classic you may have caught in 2009; if not, do not miss this in 2015. MIFF guest Sebastián Silva’s comedy about a devious house maid is black as black.
A YOUNG PATRIOT
A fascinating documentary looking at young Chinese nationalists (one in particular) born after Tiananmen Square. It's an interesting consideration of what it means to be patriotic today, in general.
Irreverent, avant garde and very fun, this is one of my top favourite films of all time.
KARRABING FILM COLLECTIVE SHORTS
I’m so fascinated by this Indigenous filmmaking collective who have worked with filmmaker Elizabeth Povinelli to make these two idiosyncratic and very beautifully-shot short films.
Programmer Al Cossar
A South Korean film that presents a small, sharp satire around a compulsive liar who becomes fixated on keeping up with materialist appearances as her self-built house of cards teeters closer to collapse.
THOSE WHO FEEL THE FIRE BURNING and MEDITERRANEA
Two urgent, involving takes on refugee issues – the former, a hybrid documentary that, in its fantastical way, tracks a ghost through Europe in a film that's unlike any other refugee story I've seen before; the latter, a compelling Cannes-screned drama loosely based on Italy's Rosarno riots, produced by the European contingent of Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) Court13 collective.
THANK YOU FOR PLAYING
A documentary about a husband and wife who are video game developers, who design a game to deal with their young son's terminal illness. It's a small film, but a prescient, memorable one about the capacity of art or storytelling to respond to grief, and also casts a thoughtful look at independent video games as digital age art, in a similar way to Indie Game: The Movie a couple of years back.
HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO
A doc that follows teens on the autism spectrum preparing for their first spring formal, who are learning the ways in which they can connect to other people socially. It's very funny/absolutely recommended as well.
Pushing the 'sport of kings' in the direction firmly in the direction of Mad Max/Hunger Games, Cosima Spender's film takes in Siena's famous biannual horse race – all of the overwhelming sights and sounds, and the compelling on-the-ground corruptions and general shadiness that take this sports doc in very much in its own direction. It's from the producer of Senna, and will be amazing on the big screen.
THE CULT OF JT LEROY
If you don't know the story, the less said the better, but this mix of literary stardom, pop-culture celebrity amidst sociopathic goings-on is truly bizarre, and this version of events was shot by the woman who was Leroy's official videographer, so the perspective it has is a very unique one. I very much recommend it.
An incredibly striking early 80s Hungarian animation from Marcell Jankovics – one of the most comparatively unseen animated classics, screening as part of our Psychedelic! film strand from 35mm film print. You probably won't have the opportunity to catch this again.
I'm a big fan of the creeping, controlled menace in Spanish filmmaker Carlos Vermut's Magical Girl, which won Best Film and Director at San Sebastián last year, and has been attracting the cinematic salvos of people like Pedro Almodovar recently. A clever, dark triptych of stories spinning out from the wishes of a girl with leukaemia to get a cosplay dress of her favourite anime character that spirals into crime and dark consequence, and it's a confident, precise thriller that I highly recommend.
A dry, wry, intelligent sort-of historical Romanian road movie about a runaway gypsy slave that will look amazing in its Forum Theatre spot at the festival.
An American indie that deconstructs an estranged mother's attempts to rejoin her family over a Thanksgiving dinner, broken down and presented in arrange of formally adventurous ways. It's well worth seeing.
Requires patience, but this languidly, gorgeously observed Georgian film gets under your skin slowly but surely to become something very beautiful and memorable by the end of its run time.
An epic documentary battle about the contested ownership of a severed foot, all in the midst of the weirdness of the American south. It oscillates from hilarious to genuinely pretty sad throughout, and the filmmakers actually have great empathy for characters in the midst of what is clearly a ridiculous situation; behind what may appear a freakshow façade at first glimpse, it's really well made documentary storytelling.