Against all the odds, Melbourne International Film Festival is set to open next week on August 6.
Of course, with Melbourne currently under lockdown social-distancing restrictions, MIFF will be accessible through online streaming. It's a first for Australia's oldest film festival. Despite the dramatic disruptions faced by the film industry, this new online showcase will deliver a fresh program of new-release films from around the world.
Aptly named 'MIFF 68½', there's plenty to be excited about. The festival will highlight 112 films – including 12 world premieres, 83 Australian premieres and 44 shorts. This year’s program includes films from 56 countries and 49% of all selected films having at least one female director attached to them.
Of particular note, MIFF 68½ will present the Australian premiere of revered auteur Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow as the festival’s opening night film. Once again training her perceptive and patient eye on America’s Pacific Northwest, First Cow is Reichardt’s unlikely story of friendship and free enterprise on the American frontier.
Some of the other key highlights across the screening program include:
You may have already seen this one, but if not, it's certainly worth watching. It has been hailed as ‘the best fashion documentary of the last decade’. A look at the reclusive Belgian avant-garde fashion couturier and founder of maverick deconstructionist fashion label Maison Margiela. Martin Margiela has avoided photographs and never appeared at shows. But now finally, we hear from him, in his own words.
Maddy the Model
Australian director Jane Magnusson follows the exuberant Madeline Stuart all the way from Brisbane to the catwalks of New York Fashion week and beyond. Maddy is a supermodel with Down syndrome, so she and her mother Rosanne have to work inclusion - ultimately challenging perceptions of beauty.
9to5: The Story of a Movement
This Academy Award winning documentary shares the inspiring forgotten women of the 9to5 movement. The actions of this group ended gender discrimination in the workplace paved the way for generations to come. The film combines extraordinary archival footage and pop-culture reference points in a passionate call-to-action.
The Giverny Document (Single Channel)
An avant-garde pick. Ja’Tovia Gary uses footage of Black women speaking of their lived experiences against a backdrop of electric sounds, drone footage, images of police brutality and weaved with viral memes. It's surreal and very relevant now, and always.
A black comedy. It includes a cast of Booksmart’s Molly Gordon, Obvious Child’s Polly Draper and Glee’s Dianna Agron. A woman attending a funeral has to manage and deal with uptight parents, former girlfriend and current sugar daddy. It's quick-witted and an enjoyable watch.
On the Record
A look at the #MeToo reckoning for hip-hop and the music industry in general at the allegations against Def Jam mogul Russell Simmons emerge. A highly personal account of the toll incurred on former Def Jam Records A&R manager Drew Dixon after speaking out. Directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have previously created The Hunting Ground (MIFF 2015) and The Invisible War. This is another unflinching look at the toxicity of rape culture and sexual abuse.
Welcome to Chechnya
A transfixing and eye-opening exposé of the persecution of queer Chechens. It's a story of the courage of those who risk their lives to grant them safe passage to freedom. This country’s homophobic tyranny, and the bravery of all those who resist it, is exposed here by Oscar-nominated filmmaker David France.
MIFF’s Artistic Director Al Cossar spoke when unveiling the impressive program. “I’m delighted to say that, despite the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, MIFF's radical act is to keep going and continue on our mission to bring you the world through unforgettable screen experiences. At MIFF, we are driven by a deep understanding that film has the ability to entertain, inspire, illuminate and empower audiences in a way that few other mediums can – qualities we welcome now more than ever.”
The Melbourne International Film Festival is set for August 6 to August 23. You can see the program and stream the movies here. They're available at a cost-per-film price or you can buy more cost-effective bundles.