It’s MIFF time again. The festival that goes longer than almost any other, and as a result has a programme littered with hidden gems – you just have to be able to find them. MIFF one-upped the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) in the Cannes stakes this year, getting several big titles such as The Lobster, Chronic, and Louder than bombs. There are also a couple of my favourite TIFF14 titles playing at MIFF that did not screen at SFF. I highly recommend you add Tales of the Grim Sleeper and Hungry Hearts to your schedule MIFF goers.
There are a lot of films playing at MIFF that have releases within a few months of the festival. If you want to be smart about your scheduling, make sure you check out the release dates for the more mainstream fare. It’s an easy way to open up spots and see something you otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to see.
After the jump I’ve picked 10 films from the programme that I would love to see if I were going for the entirety of MIFF. I’ve listed ever film An Online Universe can recommend from the programme, and have provided links to those that we have reviewed. I’ve also posted our (Andrew & Sam’s) schedule for the 3 days that we will be attending MIFF. Check it all out after the jump.
10 Films to see at MIFF2015
I have not included any of the films we will be seeing at MIFF in these picks. Our schedule is at the bottom of this post.
THE END OF THE TOUR James Ponsoldt – USA
James Ponsoldt’s Smashed (which he both wrote and directed) is one of the best films about the experience of middle class alcoholism. His writing and directing demonstrate his strength in both character development, and in portraying the depths and complexities of complicated relationships. With The End of the Tour we have an obsessed journalist, an author, and a book tour that brings them together. Jason Segal and Jesse Eisenberg star alongside a star-packed ensemble. The always wonderful Danny Elfman is behind the score. This is a film I’ve have looked forward to for some time.
LOVE 3D Gaspar Noé – France/Belgium
So 50% of you will go to this because it’s a Noé film; 30% will go based on the title; and the rest of you will go for the money shot in 3D. Don’t pretend you don’t want to see that. LOVE is a poem about sex. An exploration, an odyssey, a blunt examination of sexual experiences. This quote from Robbie Collins sums up why we’re interested in the film.
Gaspar Noé may be the only director in history who could make a two-and-a-quarter-hours-long pornographic film in 3D and then have it legitimately described as his least offensive picture to date
FRESH DRESSED Sacha Jenkins – USA
Hip hop is more than just music, there’s a whole culture that goes with it, and an important part of that culture is the fashion. Fresh Dressed tells the story of street style, its evolution and its importance to the culture. It also looks at how the style and culture influenced fashion and designers around the world. There’s no doubt that the film will have a jamming soundtrack, and that’s definitely part of the appeal for me. Check out director Sacha Jenkin’s interview with Jesse Thorn on his great podcast, Bullseye. This interview is what peaked my interest in the film in the first place.
CHRONIC Michel Franco – France, Mexico
Winner of the best screenplay at Cannes, Chronic tells the story of David Tim Roth), a palliative care nurse for the terminally ill; a man who is good at his job, but struggles to deal with his own emotional issues. This looks….depressing; however the reviews out of Cannes were filled with raves about Roth’s performance, and to be honest, that’s why I want to see this film. Peter Bradshaw says of Roth’s performance, “Tim Roth is excellent as David: impassive and enigmatic, withholding the truth about himself, but radiating in repose a sadness and a swallowed pain”.
IN THE CROSSWIND Martti Helde – Estonia
Based on the diaries of a real woman, the film takes place in the latter years of World War 2, amidst the mass deportation and execution of hundreds and thousands of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian citizens. My interest in this film lies in its unusual construction. In the Crosswind is filmed entirely as a sequence of tableaux vivants, or living pictures. The actors are frozen as if they were in a photograph, and the camera moves around them. This played at TIFF last year, but to be honest I didn’t hear anything about it. Indiewire called it “audacious” and stated that “it will leave you awestruck”.
A YOUNG PATRIOT Du Haibin – China
I haven’t seen anything from director Du Haibin before, and I hadn’t heard about this documentary before reading the MIFF programme. My interest here is purely because of the subject matter – it sounds fascinating. From the festival programme:
Celebrated documentarian Du Haibin (1428, MIFF 2009) follows a Chinese teenager’s journey from flag-waving, fatigue-wearing Maoist into young adulthood, and his fight to reconcile modern China with his fervent love of the communist ideal.
KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET
Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea (screening at MIFF) is one of the best animation films I have seen recently. It’s his involvement which has me wanting to see Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, an interpretation the 1923 book of 26 prose poetry essays, written by the Lebanese writer, artist, and philosopher, Kahil Gibran. Moore is one of nine animators who bring the words to life.
THE OVERNIGHT Patrick Brice – USA
The Overnight is out now the US and I like what I’ve heard from those who have seen it. A raunchy indie sex comedy with a great cast, including the always-funny Adam Scott, and Orange is the New Black‘s Taylor Schilling. Sign me up! Mike D’Angelo writes at The Dissolve:
The Overnight, an uproarious envelope-pusher that premièred at Sundance 2015, manages to wreak havoc with just two couples, as an intimate dinner party—initially conceived as a playdate for their kids—metamorphoses from friendly evening chit-chat into bizarre wee-hours bacchanalia.
Will this work? As an art installation – sure, but as a way to watch film? I don’t know, but I think it’s an interesting idea worth checking out. From the MIFF programme:
Projected onto a 10-metre high, vertically hung, CinemaScope screen – a floor-to-ceiling monolith! – from a custom-built 35mm projector sitting on a 90-degree axis, the films are a mix of abstract cinema, structural experiments, found-footage remixes, chemical film explorations and live laser action, all created especially for this program to take full advantage of the vertical format.
RED ARMY Gabe Polsky – Russia
I do enjoy a good sports documentary, but I don’t think I have seen a really good one since 2011’s Undefeated. Maybe Red Army will be it. It played at the recent Hot Docs festival in Toronto and the reviews were very positive. The film isn’t about rivalry between two teams or an epic competition; instead Red Army focuses on the rise, fall and struggle within one team – the weird and wonderful USSR national ice hockey team.
Below is a list of all of the films playing at MIFF that we have seen and can recommend. The starred titles are films that we highly recommend. Click on the film title to go to our review
Arabian Nights Vol 1, 2 & 3 – we recommend seeing these over 3 days, rather than seeing all 3 back-to-back
Cemetery of Splendor
Diary of a Teenage Girl
The Duke of Burgundy
Enter the Void
Eisenstien in Guanajuato
The Holy Mountain
*The Hunting Ground*
*The Look of Silence*
Only the Dead
Our Little Sister
*The Russian Woodpecker*
Seymour: An Introduction
*Song of the Sea*
*Tales of the Grim Sleeper*
*Welcome to Leith*
For reviews of even more festival titles, just search for the film in our search bar. There’s a good chance we’ve written about it at some time.
Andrew and I will be visiting Melbourne for the middle weekend of MIFF. Here’s our schedule at this stage, although we’re likely to drop one of the Saturday films. Hope to see some of you there!
Friday 7 August
1:30pm LA SAPIENZA (France,Italy, 107 mins)
4:00pm BELLUSCONE. A SICILIAN STORY (Italy, 95 mins)
6:30pm 7 CHINESE BROTHERS (USA, 75 mins)
9:15pm A PERFECT DAY (Spain, 105 mins)
Saturday 8 August
11:00am 1001 GRAMS (France,Germany,Norway, 90 mins)
1:30pm THE GROUND WE WON (New Zealand, 136 mins)
4:00pm PEACE OFFICER (USA, 109 mins)
6:45pm THE THOUGHTS THAT ONCE WE HAD (USA, 108 mins)
9:00pm DANNY SAYS (USA, 103 mins)
11:30pm DEATHGASM (New Zealand, 86 mins)
Sunday 9 August
1:30pm RAIDERS! (USA, 95 mins)