Tag Archives: Melbourne International Film Festival

  • MIFF 2018

    miff-bannerMelbourne International Film Festival is one of the leading film festivals in Australia and one of the oldest in the world. Running since 1952 MIFF presents a curated program of films showcasing the best in filmmaking from Australia and around the world. Continue reading

  • The World of Movies

    DES at the Frankfurt Book Fair will be featured next month.

    During October enjoy Kathie Farn's post-election highlights as she reviews some great Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) movies.

    From  Kathie:
    Back to the real (or reel) world of movies, or was it with a swag of DVDs that we all tried to shut out the pollies up to 7 September?  And speaking of pollies – I mentioned last month that among the highlights of my MIFF experience had been Sarah Polley’s documentary, Stories We Tell.

    Stories We Tell

    Sarah Polley was 11 when her mother, Diane Polley, an extroverted, life-of-the-party actress and casting director, died.  Making the film is a way to flesh out her knowledge of the family in her mother’s absence.  Little does she know.
    A major theme of the film is point of view and how things such as our age, position in a family and even mood can provide a unique way for an individual to perceive events.
    Sarah sets up a camera and interviews her close family and friends to tell the family story as they experienced it.  The intriguingly different and mostly very candid stories that Sarah discovers (accompanied by laughter, embarrassment, and tears), are entertaining and enriching. The complex picture that emerges of Diane, who had been married previously, and her relationship with her actor husband raises more questions that give Sarah a further lead in her family research.  The follow-up produces a bombshell for everyone and literally changes lives.
    Sarah Polley’s documentary style is full of the delight of discovery yet remains serious. The film makes the audience feel they are included in the strongly intimate and personal story.
    If you’re not familiar with Sarah Polley’s work, look out for her roles in ‘My Life Without Me’ (produced by Pedro Almodóvar’s brother, Agustín), and ‘The Secret Life of Words’ (never underestimate the effects of war trauma on civilians); or ‘Away from Her’ and ‘Take This Waltz’, for her work as director.


    The Spirit of 45

    A Ken Loach b&w documentary, is about the energy and drive that achieved the dramatic post WWII transformation of Britain and brought such urgently needed improvements in areas such as public housing, health and welfare, mining and infrastructure.  With personal testimonies and fascinating original footage showing just how dire things were immediately after the war, including the utter squalor of working class housing, Loach evokes the spirit that drove the changes, then contrasts those times with more recent events in Britain – from Thatcher’s economic rationalism, leading up to the GFC, we see so many reforms wound right back. Particularly in the light of the current huge numbers of unemployed young people, the film is a powerful argument for a return to the post-war spirit of egalitarian inclusiveness that achieved so much in the 40s.
    You can see a local example of a similar spirit in action here in Melbourne. “Triangle Wars” is about the fight to save the St Kilda Triangle (and the iconic old Palais Theatre) from the clutches of a major developer.  It’s one of the many inspirational documentaries available on Beamafilm.

    What Maisie Knew

    With two big names like Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan, I was expecting a lot of this movie.  Moore certainly doesn’t fail to deliver, giving a watertight performance as the successful, self-absorbed rock star Susanna, who prioritises her career well ahead of her daughter Maisie.  Coogan seems born for the role of Beale. A distant, disconnected father who, apart from brief affectionate moments with his daughter, always has matters of great importance calling his attention elsewhere.  Onata Aprile as Maisie, is very comfortable in her role ofthoroughly engaging little girl, wise beyond her years, who is snatched up and flung down like a stuffed toy at the whim of her bickering, infantile parents.  These three are supported by Joanna Vanderham, (Maisie’s nanny) and Alexander Skarsgard (Susanna’s boyfriend).  However, I found the largely unsanctioned and very public level of neglect by both parents, in the context of today’s level of vigilance, just a wee bit implausible.  Perhaps Henry James’s 1897 novel doesn’t translate to contemporary times quite as well as the director had hoped.

    Gebo and the Shadow

    A whole different experience for which a bit of pre reading on the work of the venerable 104 year old director, Manoel de Oliveira, and on Portuguese literature, would have equipped me to better appreciate this theatrical gem.

    Twisted Trunk, Big Fat Body

    A clever and altogether entertaining comedy that succeeds in baring some of the complexities of modern day India via the hilarious events surrounding a failed attempt to blow up a Hindu temple.


    An engaging examination of the improbable friendship that develops between twenty-something Jane and eighty-something Sadie, who learn to trust and appreciate each other despite their differences.  Jane, (Dree Hemmingway, great grand-daughter of Ernest), appears in porn movies while waiting to 'break into'Hollywood.  I was a bit confronted by the portrayal of this aspect of her life but was left convinced they had been important to establish just how unlikely the friendship between Sadie and Jane was, and to Jane’s developing ethical sense.

    Frances Ha

    Another treasure from director Noah Baumbach, who brought us “The Squid and the Whale”.  Frances is just about the wackiest, most lovable, delayed-coming-of-age character I can remember seeing.  She is so off-beam and yet comfortable with herself as she stumbles around “establishing” her young adult life.

    Ginger and Rosa

    Another eloquent film from Sally Potter who brought us the ground-breaking Orlando (based on Virginia Wolf’s book) all those years ago.  Set in ban-the-bomb, 1960s Britain, this one gives us a look at the havoc wreaked on a young adolescent girl when her father, in the name of being authentically himself and true to his values, blindly indulges an impulse that wrecks his marriage, threatens his daughter’s closest friendship and fundamentally destroys her trust in him.
        A strong cast (Including Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame) with Elle Fanning as Ginger giving a performance with great subtlety and depth.



    Uses a fascinating blend of superstition and documentary style reality to present the lifestyle and customs of a remote community in the borderlands between Portugal and Spain.
    Beautifully filmed images are left to speak for themselves, passing interactions between villagers and documentary-style monologues are all woven together, leaving the audience to witness the disappearing of traditions and lifestyles.

    Remember DES from the Frankfurt Book Fair next month.

  • MIFFed

    Initiated. Thanks to Digital Education Services, I have had my first full experience of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). Sixteen films with a maximum of two per day and a panel discussion in sixteen mind-bending days.  Now I finally get why long, winding, mid-winter queues of film goers looking like Telly Tubbies in their thick winter jackets, scarves and beanies, withstand the winds and chill air on the footpath outside city cinemas.


    • Ken Loach’s documentary Spirit of ’45 is inspiring.
    • Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, another documentary was unexpected, moving, funny, sad and intimate.
    • Gloria, a triumphant Chilean movie celebrating the older woman.
    • Tenderness, a Belgian road movie about a long divorced couple thrown together on a nine hour car trip to the French Alps where their son has been badly hurt in a skiing accident. Lots of great snow and gentle humour.
    • Blancanieves, a very Spanish version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and tribute to the old black and white silent movies.
    • Noha Baumbach’s ‘Frances Ha’ is madcap and delightful.
    • Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa is a deeply moving story about a father’s betrayal of his daughter.

    There were oh so many.

    Although it was great to be physically among the action at MIFF the richness of content reminded me of my online Beamafilm viewing.  More next month.

    On MIFF

    For sixteen wonderful days I was inside the heads of others via films from around the world. Friendly chats with strangers in the street, on the stairs,  or inside the Australian Centre for Moving Image, the old Forum Theatre and diverse cinemas, left me with my head spinning and determined to do it all again next year.

    The Lowdown

    A mind boggling range of films of all genres; Australian and International.  An e-minipass gets you ten films plus three freebies viewed before 5.00pm. So, I noted the first ten that caught my interest (they all did!), some extras to cover time clashes, and booked whatever fitted.  High on the adrenaline hit of seeing five great movies in the first three days, I promised myself one or two extras to try and catch some that others were enthusing over.

    The Broken Circle Breakdown

    For a taste of more reviews to come, here’s the first one. A remarkable film. It was the Belgian film The Broken Circle Breakdown that left me reeling. With its powerful story of love and loss and the redemptive powers of the best of America (the best of), it is a celebration of life fully lived, gorgeous tattoos and fabulous Blue Grass music. With mesmerising performances the film presents us with two people leading unreservedly authentic, three-dimensional lives, with all the passion, grief, fun, laughter, such lives can bring.  It is also an impassioned plea to be guided by the rational. The Broken Circle Breakdown is a remarkable film based loosely on a very successful, long-running play of the same name.
    Posted by Kathie Farn

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