Pete Davidson and Chase Sui Wonders in Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Pete Davidson and Chase Sui Wonders in Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Pete Davidson and Chase Sui Wonders in Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Stories & Ideas

Tue 02 Aug 2022

What to see at MIFF 70 – ACMI staff picks

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An essential watchlist for the 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival (4–21 Aug in cinemas).


Ghita Loebenstein

Head of Film Programs

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Because We Have Each Other

Sari Braithwaite | Australia | 2020

Sari Braithwaite’s documentary is a sincerely loving portrait of an exceptional family. While veiled in the exceptionality of their neurodivergence, in many ways they are universally ‘Australian’, in this no-frills working-class context.

What’s breathtakingly beautiful about this portrait is how it dodges condescension and untucks the huge, open-hearted warmth and vulnerability of the subjects. The critiques of capitalism and the inaccessibility of modern Australian life are implied. I was reminded of Alma Har’el’s equally beautiful Bombay Beach when I saw this film, they share an affection and admiration for their subjects, and dance with the difficult poetry of real life.

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You Won’t Be Alone

Goran Stolevski | Australia, Serbia, UK | 2022

I was blown away by Goran Stolevski’s visionary debut; a witchy, folkloric tale of vengeance, power and womanhood that is as horrific as it is mesmeric. Gothic, graphic and ferociously feminist. I can’t wait to see Stolevski’s next film, Of an Age, premiering on Opening Night, a story of love and youth which might be kinder on the eye than the superbly secretious Wolf-Eatress in You Won’t Be Alone!

There are so many more I could list here, not least the wildly tasty Peter Strickland number, Flux Gourmet, as hilarious as it is camp; and Sara Dosa’s captivating Fire of Love, one of the most aesthetically beautiful films I’ve seen in a long time, this one about a volcanic love story. I also loved Sara Kern’s quietly poignant Moja Vesna.

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Roberta Ciabarra

Curator, Film

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A House Made of Splinters

Simon Lereng Wilmont, Denmark | Ukraine, Sweden | 2022

Returning to a region of eastern Ukraine already marred by war with Russia in which his Oscar-shortlisted feature documentary The Distant Barking of Dogs (2017) was set, Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont sets his compelling new observational film in a shelter that houses at-risk children in short-term accommodation while courts decide on the ‘fitness’ – or otherwise – of their parents to be reunited with them. The worthy winner of the Best Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival – barely a month before Russia’s escalation and armed invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which forced the shelter’s evacuation – A House Made of Splinters is an unsparing, profoundly humanist testimonial to the heart-rending self-awareness, tenacity, fragile hope and emotional resilience of the shelter’s vulnerable occupants that deserves to be seen well beyond the festival circuit.

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The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future (La Vaca Que Cantó Una Canción Hacia El Futuro)

Francisca Alegria | Chile, France, United States, Germany | 2022

A woman in motorbike leathers and helmet emerges silently from a river in the opening scene of Francisca Alegria’s enigmatic, metaphor-laden film which strikes a tone somewhere between magic-realist fable, supernatural family drama and ecological thriller. In her utterly absorbing feature debut, Alegria continues to mine the fascinating, quietly unnerving “in-between places” beyond the material world she first explored in her Sundance award-winning 2016 short film, And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye.

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Clara Sola

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén | Costa Rica, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, France, United States | 2021

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s rural Costa Rican-set drama filters aspects of the feminine gothic through the lens of religious superstition. A mature woman of some forty years, Clara (Wendy Chinchilla Araya), is cruelly stifled by her mother’s religious fervour. Infantilised and set apart as an ‘instrument of God’, Clara finds solace in the natural world, seeking there the sensuality otherwise denied her. When the sanctuary it provides is also threatened, Clara’s long-repressed instincts surface with unexpected force. Premiering in Cannes Director’s Fortnight, the largely non-verbal but intensely expressive performance of sinewy lead actor (and dancer) Chinchilla Araya, makes Clara Sola a singularly visceral and affecting film experience.

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Max Minkoff

Film Programs Coordinator

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Melbourne on Screen

When the good folk at MIFF program a retrospective, you pay attention. This is where your film education occurs, where you fill in gaps in your knowledge you didn’t even know you had. This year I’m particularly excited about the book Melbourne on Film, MIFF’s celebration of how our home city has been portrayed on screen from as far back as 1906. There are titles I had never heard of – Pure Shit, Ghosts…Of the Civil Dead and Reinventing Anna to name a few – which now feel absolutely essential to me (hats off to this year’s copywriter for making every single film so enticing). Go and see all the exciting new films on offer, but I’d urge you to see at least one film from a retrospective strand – this is what makes film festivals so special, after all.


Shadow

Bruce Gladwin | Australia | 2021

Based in Geelong and consisting almost entirely of neurodiverse creatives, the ground-breaking Back to Back Threatre company have wowed audiences with their innovative shows for the last 20 years. Shadow is based on their stage production, The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes, and discusses the daily prejudice faced by people with disabilities. It’s great to see that Back to Back are being recognised internationally (Shadow won an Audience Award at SXSW and the company received the prestigious Ibsen Award in Norway earlier this year) but if you don’t know who they are then Shadow is your perfect entry point.

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Speak No Evil

Christian Tafdrup | Denmark | 2021

A horror film that might appeal to fans of Larry David’s work, Speak No Evil captures the highs and lows of spending time with new friends. Masquerading as a comedy about etiquette, it quickly devolves and morphs into one of the most menacing movies I’ve seen in years. This is one of those films where the less you know the better, so all I’ll say is: Go see this film, enjoy the terrifying ride, and question everyone you meet on holiday for the rest of your life.

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Dilan Gunawardana

Website Coordinator and Content Editor

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Citizen Ashe

Rex Miller, Sam Pollard | UK, USA | 2021

Not being an avid watcher of tennis, my first introductions to the sport were via osmosis as a child: Sampras vs Agassi, Pat Rafter, The Woodies, Michael Chang’s Duracell commercial, etc – anything prior to this period is foggy. Arthur Ashe – whose professional career spanned 1969–80 – came across my radar in this particularly resonant Tweet, where Ashe speaks about double standards he was subjected to in his career in a white-dominated sport: “McEnroe had that emotional freedom to be a bad boy. I never had that emotional freedom. If I had been like that, I am convinced the tennis world would’ve dragged me out of it.” My interest was piqued.

In Citizen Ashe, directors Rex Miller and Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI, Two Trains Runnin’) combine interviews, home movies, and footage to document the rise of Ashe from elegant athlete – the first black tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title – to erudite activist, to his death from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993. Worth a watch for tennis fans, non-tennis fans and anyone with an opinion on Nick Kyrgios.

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Fire of Love

Sara Dosa | Canada, USA | 2022

Blending science and cinema, Sarah Dosa’s documentary Fire of Love is a tender portrait of the Kraffts, who gained prominence in France in the 70s and 80s for their brave yet mind-bogglingly dangerous, up-close research into volcanoes which was copiously documented on 16mm film. Like me, you may have been first introduced to the couple in Werner Herzog’s Netflix documentary on volcanoes – and those mad enough to live and work (by choice or not) within melting distance of them – Into the Inferno (2016); Dosa's film expands on their compelling story in a visually stunning way, with gentle narration by Miranda July.

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Vyshnavee Wijekumar

Campaign Manager

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Each year, MIFF ignites Melbourne with a fervour for cinema – and this year’s program is bound to astound. From the expansive program, the films I'm most excited to see explore coming of age, cultural storytelling and experimental forms through the moving image.

Bodies Bodies Bodies

Halina Reijn | USA | 2022

Halina Reijn’s Bodies Bodies Bodies adopts the new age approach to youthful ennui, mixing horror genre tropes in a similar fashion to how the series Search Party (2016–22) applied millennial self-obsession to a murder mystery plot. In this horror-comedy whodunnit starring Amandla Stenberg, Lee Pace and Pete Davidson, a group of seven young friends have a house party at a remote mansion during a hurricane and end up playing a party game with fatal outcomes. A24 continues to prove its theatrical slate possesses the best of engaging and interesting independent cinema.

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Neptune Frost

Anisia Uzeyman, Saul Williams | Rwanda, USA | 2021

Sci Fi musical Neptune Frost is directed by alternative hip hop artist Saul Stacey Williams and playwright Anisia Uzeyman, which explains the crossover of forms in this Afrofuturist story. Set in a computerised iteration of a Rwandan village, a group of coltan mineral miners lead a hacker collective with an antiestablishment mission – an allegory to contemporary anticolonial rhetoric. Music, movement and vivid visuals synchronise in this exploration of gender and power.

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Sweet As

Jub Clerc | Australia | 2022

Sweet As is an outback, coming-of-age First Nations-centred story by Nyul Nyul/Yawuru director Jub Clerc, supported through MIFF’s 2022 Premiere Fund. A feature film debut for Clerc, with an all-star cast, including Tasma Walton (Mystery Road), Mark Coles Smith (Last Cab to Darwin), Chilean-Cuban-Australian actor Carlos Sanson Jr (Bump), and Shantae Barnes-Cowan (Total Control), Sweet As takes you on a journey of adolescent self-discovery – set against the backdrop of a rural setting and an all-Indigenous soundtrack.

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Sweet As (2022) Jub Clerc | Sat 20 Aug MIFF 70

Shantae Barnes-Cowan in Sweet As (2022)


Hannah Miller

Content and Social Media Advisor

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Final Cut (Coupez!)

Michel Hazanavicius | France | 2022

Last year – late to the party – I discovered the ridiculously entertaining rollercoaster that is Shin’ichirō Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead (2017) and began recommending it to anyone that likes a bit of low-budget splatter with a twist. Clearly Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius joined the party too because Final Cut (Coupez!) is his French remake of the Japanese cult comedy.

Do you need to know much more than it’s a zombie comedy? Not really, you’re better off with less context. Make sure you give it more than 30 minutes, because the inventive narrative just keeps getting better as it goes from your expected zombie fare to far from typical. The body count will be high, the goofs and gross-outs off the charts – but will it measure up to the original?

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Clean

Lachlan McLeod | Australia | 2022

My short attention span barely lets me finish a book these days (thanks TikTok). In the past few years, one of the only reads that kept me captivated from start to finish – and managed to wedge itself into a dusty nook in my heart – is Sarah Krasnostein's incredibly moving memoir The Trauma Cleaner (2017). To learn that its extraordinary subject Sandra Pankhurst is now celebrated in a documentary has me ready to sift through the mess of my MIFF shortlist and put this joy-sparker right at the top. Be prepared for heart-breaking tragedy tangled up in remarkable resilience and startling compassion. The fascinatingly multi-faceted life of Sandra is as astounding as the industry where she contributes an abundance of kindness. I can’t wait to encounter this impressive human off the page and on the screen.

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Emma Sullivan

Communications Assistant

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Aftersun

Charlotte Wells | UK | 2022

The world fell in love with Normal People’s Paul Mescal and he’s back on our screens in Charlotte Wells’ atmospheric drama Aftersun. The Cannes-premiered film is a restrained observation of a daughter’s discovery of her father and the man she had built in her memories.

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Aftersun (2022)

Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal in Aftersun (2022)


The Apartment with Two Women

Kim Se-in | South Korea | 2021

Mother-daughter narratives are always poignant, and this Korean portrait of familial rupture is no exception. Winner of multiple awards at the Busan international Film Festival, director Kim Se-in’s debut piece looks to encapsulate a dysfunctional family with splendour.

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The Pawnshop

Lukasz Kowalski | Poland | 2022

The Australian premiere of The Pawnshop is a dark docu-comedy following the saga of Poland’s largest pawnshop and the owner’s determination to save this once-profitable business. The tragicomic tale of the couple who births an idea crazy enough it might just save the business is set to be a true heart warmer.

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Explore MIFF 70 at ACMI


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