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Our top picks for MIFF 2017

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While we're passionate about film all year round, during MIFF the entire city crowds into cinemas across Melbourne to see the latest films. Our film programmers are no exception, and if you're having trouble finding your favourites in the program, they can help make the decision easier.

Kristy Matheson – Senior film programmer

It’s impossible to pick a top three in a program brimming with delights such as the stunning Mexican drama The Untamed, and the essential documentary I Am Not Your Negro, but here goes nothing.

AusterlitzSergei Loznitsa | Germany (2016)

Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy, Maidan) returns with a documentary that offers audiences all the space in the world whilst simultaneously offering a stark mirror for each of us to gaze into. Unforgettable in every sense.

By the Time it Gets Dark Anocha Suwichakornpong | France Thailand Netherlands Qatar (2016)

Anocha Suwichakornpong who directed the wonderful Mundane History (2009) returns with another thrilling mental puzzle for audiences to unpack. Like her previous film; By the Time it Gets Dark plays with time, perspective and fragmented memory to explore the complex modern history of her country.

Happy End Michael Haneke | Austria France Germany (2017)

When folks say, “I want to see a funny movie” it’s fair to say that the great director Michael Hanake (Funny Games, The White Ribbon) doesn’t spring to the top of your list. Well prepare to rejig your lists because this sly comedy of manners has all the tension, great performances, amazingly lean filmmaking that we’ve come to know and love but this time with giggles – enjoy!

Can’t wait to see: Porto, That’s Not Me, A Man of Integrity, Faces Places

Austerlitz trailer

Spiro Economopoulos –  Film programmer

BPM  Robin Campillo | France (2017)

Taking out both the Grand Jury Prize and Queer Palm at Cannes this year, director Robin Campillo draws on his own experience as an Act Up member in Paris in the early 90s. From all accounts this film is a passionate and urgent call to arms, delving deep into the politics and passion of these group of people literally fighting for their lives.

Tragedy GirlsTyler MacIntyre | USA (2017)

Bias right up front, one of my favourite strands at MIFF is the Night Shift program and this year’s selection looks pretty meaty, particularly the buzz worthy Tragedy Girls, which comes off as Clueless via the slasher genre. What’s not to love!

Ikarie XB-1 Jindřich Polák | Czechoslovakia (1963)

MIFF’s sci-fi retrospective and sci-fi marathon has plenty to choose from but it’s this seldom seen film that has got me very excited. Source material from the same author as the remarkable Solaris, extraordinary FX and design that predates Kubrick’s 2001: A space Odyssey and an avant-garde electronic score make this a must see event.

Tragedy Girls trailer

Roberta Ciabarra –  Film programmer

On Body and Soul Ildikó Enyedi | Hungary (2017)

Hungarian screenwriter/director, Ildiko Enyedi’s Golden Bear winner casts two social introverts and abattoir workers as the protagonists of an unlikely romance, with a little reverse anthropomorphism thrown in for good measure. (Must be that latent Bambi fixation rearing its head again.) Doe, a deer, a female deer (or otherwise), I’m in.

Let the Sunshine In  Claire Denis | France (2017)

Claire Denis is one of the most consistently fascinating directors working today. After the emotionally harrowing Bastards (Les salauds) in 2013 and the slow-burn eroticism of Friday Night (Vendredi soir, 2002), Denis changes register once more to refashion the rom-com with spiky wit and unsparing insight. As if that prospect weren’t enticing enough, Denis casts the ever-splendid Juliette Binoche as her mercurial lead.

Nocturama  Bertrand Bonello | France (2016)

A sure-to-be visually intoxicating, immersive descent into the “lures of terrorism” from the director of Saint Laurent (2014) and L'Apollonide (House of Tolerance, 2011)? Okay, I’ll take the bait. Sign me up for Bertrand Bonello’s “latest blazing provocation”. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, n’est pas?

Nocturama trailer

James Hewison – Head of film programs

Closeness Kantemir Balagov | Russia (2017)

This incendiary debut feature produced by Alexander Sokurov cut a swathe through this year’s Un Certain Regard program as much for the revelation of the formidable talents of its director and lead actress as it did for a deeply upsetting scene at its centre, traversing a no-man’s land of centuries-old ethnic unrest, family and community loyalties are tested by a kidnapping.

The Silent Eye –Amiel Courtin-Wilson | Australia (2017)

Cinema necessarily struggles to “capture” the act of creation at its most essential but Courtin-Wilson and his cinematographer Germain McMicking chronicle the remarkable reunion of two elemental collaborators by breathing their air. Exhilarating, intimate and transcendent.

Dawson City: Frozen Time  Bill Morrison | USA (2016)

A thrilling ode – and an expedition - to the frontier, to cinema entrepreneurs and pioneers, and ultimately to nitrate film itself.

Dawson City: Frozen Time trailer

Reece Goodwin –  Film team member

A Man of Integrity – Mohammad Rasoulof | Iran (2017)

Filmed in secret in a remote Iranian village, Mohammad Rasoulof has stuck to his guns and continues to make films in Iran despite being banned by his homeland. In many ways, Reza, the titular man of integrity, does the same. Leaving the big city to start breeding goldfish in a small village, life is made difficult when a network of local people controlling the town, the Company, try to force him out to buy his land. Reza refuses to give in to the local bullies.

Phantom BoyAlain GagnolJean-Loup Felicioli | France Belgium (2015)

This follow-up to the Academy Award-nominated A Cat in Paris is in many ways a more complex and confident outing, combining Felicioli & Gagnol’s beautiful style of animation with references to Rear Window. The voice of Fred Armisen is the cherry on top.

The 10th Victim (Le decima vittima)Elio Petri | France Italy (1965)

Elio Petri’s dystopian future, based on Robert Sheckley’s short story, has it all: Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, killer sixties fashion, and the style – oh so much style. The 10th Victim is such great fun. Aside from all the people being hunted to the death for entertainment, dystopia never looked so good – take me there.

Strange DaysKathryn Bigelow | USA (1995)

The thrilling first person tracking shots that Bigelow became known for earlier in her career are perfectly used to examine and interrogate spectatorship and the male gaze. Interspersing gut-wrenching moments with shout-out-loud moments, Strange Days is the kind of action film they should provide seatbelts for.

Pussy (Cipka)Renata Gąsiorowska | Poland (2016)

This animated short premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and screens as part of the WTF Shorts program. Pussy tells the simple yet hilarious story of a woman trying to take some time out for a little bit of pleasure. The animation style appears deceptively simple, though what animation ever is? Be prepared to barrack for a runaway vagina.

The 10th Victim trailer