‘Inside’, ‘Runt’ world premieres, ‘Megalopolis’ IMAX screening among MIFF program highlights

Guy Pearce and Vincent Miller in Charles Williams' 'Inside'.

Everything from a Melbourne-shot coming-of-age prison drama to a passion project four decades in the making will make its way to next month’s Melbourne International Film Festival, with the full line-up announced this evening.

Comprising 250 features, shorts, and XR experiences, this year’s program includes the world premieres of Australian features Inside and Runt, along with an Imax screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s sprawling sci-fi drama Megalopolis.

MIFF Artistic Director Al Cossar described this year’s event as a mix of “things you’ve been waiting months to see, and others you never thought you’d get a chance to”.

“The MIFF program this year, like every year, is a multi-faceted festival of cinematic excess, designed to delight, and sure to bring out the best in your imaginations,” he said.

“We’re thrilled to welcome audiences back – come along and settle in for all too many movies at Melbourne’s favourite binge this winter.”

Charles Williams’ Victorian-shot feature debut Inside is among the ten films vying for this year’s $140,000 Bright Horizons Award, designed to recognise first and second-time filmmakers.

Executive produced by Thomas M Wright, the film stars Vincent Miller as Mel Blight, a young man who, after being transferred from juvenile to adult prison, is taken under the wing of both Mark Shepard (Cosmo Jarvis), Australia’s most despised criminal, and Warren Murfett ( Guy Pearce), leading to a paternal triangle between the three men. The cast includes Toby Wallace, Chloé Hayden, and Michael Logo. Production took place in the state at the end of last year, with Marian Macgowan and Kate Glover producing for Macgowan Films and Never Sleep Pictures, respectively.

‘Julie Keeps Quiet’

Also screening in competition is US director India Donaldson’s feature debut Good One, featuring Lily Collias as a seventeen-year-old who discovers uncomfortable truths after being roped along on a trip with her divorced father and his also divorced friend; English filmmaker Luna Carmoon’s drama Hoard, about a young woman grappling with the grief, trauma and hoarding tendencies imposed by her mother that stars Saura Lightfoot Leon and Joseph Quinn; and US playwright Annie Baker’s debut Janet Planet, about how hyper-needy 11-year-old Lacy (Zoe Ziegler) comes to terms with the riddle that is her mother, Janet (Julianne Nicholson) over a 90s summer.

Outside of the US and the UK, the entries include Belgian director Leonardo Van Dijl’s Julie Keeps Quiet, which tracks a young tennis prodigy who is teetering on the brink of athletic stardom when her coach at a prestigious training academy is accused of misconduct; Bosnian-Dutch filmmaker Ena Sendijarević’s Sweet Dreams, a satire centering on the fallout from the of a wealthy Dutch patriarch that confronts the Netherlands’ colonial trespasses; and Universal Language, a drama in which Canadian writer/director Matthew Rankin’s tells the story of two young kids finding a banknote and embarking on an odyssey that takes them out of childhood.

Coming from Cannes to screen in competition are Mo Harawe’s Somali drama The Village Next to Paradise, about a makeshift family living in a cramped one-bedroom apartment in a small fishing village as they try to carve out a better life for themselves and together; Latvian filmmaker Gints Zilbalodis’ feature animation Flow, a wordless story following menagerie of animals adrift on a boat that must work together to survive a catastrophic flood; and fellow Un Certain Regard selection On Becoming a Guinea Fowl, in which writer/director Rungano Nyoni details a middle-class Zambian family’s shameful silence in the wake of the death of one of their own.

Adam Driver and Nathalie Emmanuel in ‘Megalopolis’

One of the biggest stories coming out of this year’s Festival de Cannes was the polarising debut of Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, which the 85-year-old auteur made with more than $120 million of his own money after studios declined to bankroll his vision. Featuring Adam Driver, Jon Voight, and Shia LeBeouf, the story about an architect who wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster that took more than four decades to bring to life will be the subject of a one-off screening at IMAX Melbourne.

The megascale ‘fable’ is joined in MIFF’s Headliners strand by Coralie Fargerat’s body horror film The Substance, starring Demi Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Margaret Qualley; Mumbai-based director Payal Kapadia’s romantic drama All We Imagine As Light; Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke’s free-flowing drama Caught By the Tides; Aaron Schimberg’s A Different Man, featuring Sebastian Stan in his Berlinale Silver Bear winning role as a wannabe actor who learns that confidence isn’t skin-deep; historical drama Grand Tour, for which Miguel Gomes was named Best Director at Cannes; Guy Maddin’s Rumours, a satire set in a German forest where a nearby fictional G7 summit is taking place that stars Cate Blanchett; Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof’s SFF Audience Award-winning The Seed of the Sacred Fig; and David Cronenberg’s deeply personal meditation on loss, longing, and grief, The Shrouds.

Australian out-of-competition highlights include the world premiere of the aforementioned family feature Runt, directed by John Sheedy, and starring Lily La Torre, Celeste Barber, and Jai Courtney; Will Howarth and Tom McKeith’s sci-fi mystery thriller In Vitro; and Paul Goldman’s boxing drama Kid Snow.

From left are Lily La Torre, Celeste Barber, Jack La Torre, Jai Courtney, and Genevieve Lemon in ‘Runt’

On the documentary front, Krunal Padhiar and co-director Semara Jose’s Voice Referendum-focused film Voice will have its world premiere, as will Danielle MacLeanh and Sal Balharrie’s Like My Brother, which follows four young women from the Tiwi Islands who all dream of playing professional footy in the AFLW. John Hughes’ Twilight Time, a portrait of Australian academic, agitator, and surveillance expert Des Ball, will also screen.

As previously announced, Adam Elliot’s Docklands-shot animated feature Memoir of a Snail will open the festival, screening alongside fellow MIFF Premiere Fund titles Magic Beach, Robert Connolly’s reimagining of Alison Lester’s much-loved illustrated children’s book; Justin Kurzel’s Ellis Park, a documentary about musician Warren Ellis’ quest to establish an animal sanctuary in Sumatra; Natalie Bailey’s SXSW-selected dramedy Audrey; and Eliza Cox’s Queens of Concrete.

In the retrospective thread, there will be a celebration of Australian queer cinema pioneer Stephen Cummins, following the restoration of nine of his short films by the National Film and Sound Archive, as well as a screening of Richard Roxburgh’s 2007 AFI Best Film Award-winner, Romulus, My Father, starring Eric Bana and then-10-year-old Kodi Smit-McPhee. MIFF will also pay tribute to cinema’s favourite reptilian, amphibious kaiju with a Godzilla 70th Anniversary Marathon presented by Asahi.

This year’s MIFF Shorts section is headlined by Back From the Ink: Restored Animated Shorts, a selection of lost classics including a 1944 stop-motion ‘Puppetoon’ from George Pál, a 1939 Terrytoon directed by Mannie Davis, and seven short films – drawn from 1928 to 1939 – by the Fleischer Brothers (creators of Betty Boop and Koko the Clown), which feature jazz-age collaborations with Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway. There is also Cannes Short Film Palme d’Or winner The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent, from director Nebojša Slijepčević; Àlex Lora Cercós’ Sundance Short Film Grand Jury Prize winner The Masterpiece; and Lionel Seah’s Cannes-selected Sydney-set two-hander Withered Blossoms.

MIFF 2024 runs August 8-25, with the MIFF Awards ceremony to be held on Saturday, August 24 at Rydges Melbourne. A limited selection of festival highlights will be available digitally across Australia from August 9-25 through MIFF Online – streaming via ACMI.

MIFF Regional runs August 16-18 and August 23-25 August with screenings in Bendigo (Star Cinema, Eaglehawk), Castlemaine (Theatre Royal), Echuca (Paramount), Geelong (Village and Pivotonian), Rosebud (Peninsula Cinemas), Morwell (Village) and Shepparton (Village).

MIFF 2024 tickets are on sale to the general public at 9am on Tuesday, July 16. Find the full line-up here.