The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has unveiled the first 32 films on its line-up for this year, ahead of the full program launch in July.
Opening the festival is the Australian premiere of Paul Dano’s directorial debut Wildlife, following screenings in Sundance and Cannes. A 1960s coming-of-age tale about a family falling apart, it stars Australia’s Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes, The Butterfly Tree) alongside Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal.
“We are thrilled to announce Wildlife for this year’s Opening Night Gala. Paul Dano’s debut as a director provides a glimpse into a successful shift in his career from on screen to off, and the cast including Australia’s very own Ed Oxenbould (a special name here at MIFF) is an impressive way to kick off proceedings,” said MIFF artistic director Michelle Carey.
“This in addition to the sneak peek of the rest of the program is an exciting time. Finally we can start talking about the most important thing…the films!”
Among the local highlights announced for the festival, is Jungle Entertainment/Blue-Tongue Films’ six-part series Mr Inbetween, directed by Nash Edgerton. The series, based on the 2005 film The Magician, is written by and stars Scott Ryan as hitman Ray Shoesmith, and was well received at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. A second season has already been co-commissioned by FX in the US and Foxtel.
Jeremy Sims’ portrait of motorcycle great Wayne Gardner, Wayne, will also make its world premiere at the festival, while director Gabrielle Brady’s Island of the Hungry Ghosts, which looks at the detention centre on Christmas Island, will make its Aussie debut off the back of its Best Documentary Feature win at Tribeca.
MIFF will also screen a National Film and Sound Archive-restored version of Isabel, Paulette and Phyllis McDonagh’s silent-era film The Cheaters, alongside the remaining fragments of the pioneering sisters’ first feature, Those Who Love.
Other Aussie films to screen include Jason Raftopoulos’ feature debut West of Sunshine and Jessica Leski’s documentary I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story.
Among the international selections is Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner The Miseducation of Cameron Post; You Were Never Really Here, for which Joaquin Phoenix was awarded best actor at Cannes 2017; Bodied from director Joseph Kahn and rapper turned producer Eminem; and Hu Bo’s four hour portrait of contemporary China, An Elephant Sitting Still, which won the FIPRESCI Prize.
Gustav Möller’s directorial debut, The Guilty, which won audience awards in Sundance and Rotterdam, will also screen, as will Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, which stars Ethan Hawke. Hawke’s recent directorial outing, Blaze, a biopic of Blaze Foley, starring Benjamin Dickey and Alia Shawkat is also on the line-up, as is The Insult, from Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars.
On the VR front, MIFF will feature Tsai Ming-liang’s The Deserted, a 55-minute “tale of ghosts, grief and fish”.
The documentary line-up includes Sundance Special Jury Prize winner MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A, from director Stephen Loveridge, and Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s United Skates, which won the Audience Awards at Tribeca. Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s McQueen, portrait of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, is also to screen, as is SXSW Grand Jury Prize for documentary winner People’s Republic of Desire; Tommy Avallone’s Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man, and John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection.
This year’s MIFF program is said to feature more than 500 screenings, with the full program to drop July 10.
View the full line-up here.
MIFF runs August 2-19.