Melbourne International Film Festival 2011: Most Anticipated

Guilty of Romance

MIFF 2011Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011, the Melbourne International Film Festival kicks off this Thursday with Belgian curiousity The Fairy. In the seventeen days that follow, a cavalcade of international cinema will be unleashed upon the enthusiastic audience, including 25 titles direct from Cannes and 15 themed program strands focusing on everything from the next wave of crime features to filmic explorations of our networked society. The Reel Bits will be in Melbourne sampling a selection of films on offer, adding  a sizeable number of features to our festival schedules to supplement the 22 movies from the program that we’ve already seen. As excitement levels increase mere days away from the event, we share with you our most anticipated films from the 2011 MIFF program.

Coming off the expensive proposition of the 30-odd films seen at the Sydney Film Festival, self-funding my way to Melbourne resulted in some mighty careful pickin’. It also meant that we were restricted to what was on during the 6 wintry nights that we’ll be holed up in the most Victorian city in Australia. As such, I’ll sadly be missing out on Melancholia, and being keen not to repeat the near-breakdown I experienced during the Sydney Film Festival by restricting myself to a humble 10 or so films.  That said, there are a fabulous selection of films to choose from, and I will echo Sarah’s sentiments in highly recommending Sydney Film Festival favourite The Turin HorseA Separation and Tyrannosaur, along with 13 AssassinsAttenberg and Tabloid. We are yet to review Outrage or Cold Fish, but these also come highly recommended.

Guilty of Romance – Avant garde Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono has earned a reputation on edgy films The Suicide Club and the epic four-hour Love Exposure, and whether you like him or hate him, his films are impossible to ignore. Coupled with this year’s screening of the controversial Cold Fish, Sono’s latest film promises to deliver some late night thrills when it debuts at the (almost) midnight screening. Incidentally, it will be fascinating to see how the audience reacts to the divisive Cold Fish, which has been (justifiably) labelled as everything from misogynistic to a masterpiece.

Submarine – For many of the reasons that Sarah put this on her list, it has made its way to this anticipated list of films. Ayoade’s cult status precedes him, and anybody who has ready his regular columns in UK’s Total Film magazine will be aware that his comedic voice stretches well beyond being “Moss from The IT Crowd“. The presence of Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine and the ubiquitous Sally Hawkins are just icing on the cake.

The Kid with a Bike – The brothers Dardenne come with their own reputation, and having been thoroughly blown away by the Palme d’Or winner The Tree of Life last month, MIFF’s inclusion of the Grand Prix gives us a chance to balance out the equation.

End of Animal – This was one that I regrettably missed at the Sydney Film Festival, being the only Korean film played in Sydney during that time. Due to my ongoing work with KOFFIA, MIFF provides an ample selection of 8 Korea films during the festival to catch up on some of the latest and greatest from this emerging cinema.   

Autoluminscent: Rowland S. Howard  – When Howard died of liver cancer at the end of 2009, the incredible body of work the Australian musician had amassed came to light. Perhaps best known for his work with Nick Cave as a founding member of both The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party, his original version of “Shivers” with The Young Charlatans has been covered a number of times over the years. A seminal figure of the post-punk scene in Melbourne, he was recently seen in the documentary We’re Living on Dog Food that appeared on the Dogs in Space DVD and Blu-ray. That this one has sold out is indicative of how beloved he still is in his Melbourne home.

Honourable mentions: Oki’s Movie, an earlier feature from Hong Sang-soo (Hahaha), whose The Day He Arrives also screens at MIFF this year, is sure to be close to the hearts of film lovers everywhere. Similarly, Page One: Inside The New York Times may just be the wake-up call needed for journalists everywhere, even us digital types. Also, there is just something about Tiny Furniture that I can’t resist.

Must See
In a year full of “must sees”, and given that Melancholia is not playing while I’m in Melbourne, Guilty of Romance stands out as a inescapable window into the always frenetic mind of Japan’s Sion Sono.

The Melbourne International Film Festival runs from 21 July – 7 August 2011 at various venues across the Melbourne CBD. For the full program, please visit their website. Tickets are now on sale.

The Reel Bits is the cinema arm of DVD Bits. Richard can be found on Twitter @DVDBits and Sarah @swardplay. The Reel Bits is also @The_ReelBits.