Melbourne International Film Festival – and the curious tale of living life in reverse

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Melbourne International Film Festival – and the curious tale of living life in reverse

When it comes to a film about living life in reverse, British writer and director Cris Jones says to remember one thing: “Nothing is ever lost. No one is ever lost. While we will never experience them again, moments are still unfolding somewhere in time.”

It’s a romantic concept from Jones, with the imaginative and intellectually curious director admitting that his mind-boggling debut feature film, The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, is really “just a rather simple, old fashioned love story.”

A mysterious tale of love and loss, Jones’ film is one of four undiscovered films heading to regional towns (including Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo) as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) travelling showcase.

As one of the oldest film festivals in the world (since 1952 to be exact), MIFF is an iconic Melbourne event which takes place every year in the heart of the cultural city. The actual festival, which made Melbourne the centre of the cinematic universe for eighteen days and nights, showcased over 344 films from dozens of countries.

Known for its ability to highlight some of the best independent films to the Melbourne audience, this travelling showcase is just another feat for the annual film festival, widely setting it apart from any other festival of its kind.
“It really does create a bit of a buzz. In a way other film festivals, particularly major film festivals, can get a little bit lost. It [MIFF] kind of takes over the town a bit and it’s a very exciting energy to be around,” Jones says.

“Major cities all over the world can be a little bit metropolitan centric so this is a great opportunity for regional audiences to see something a bit different. MIFF show a lot of films that don’t normally get shown outside of a major city. I think it’s really important and it’s a great thing to be a part of for the first time.”

As well as being included on the regional showcase list, Jones’ film was lucky enough to score the opening night slot at the Film Festival, which finished up mid-August.

The film is a feature debut from the British director and follows Otto Bloom (played by Twilight heartthrob Xavier Samuel), who experiences his life in reverse, passing through time backwards whilst still remembering the future. Brain-twisting and deeply moving, the inventive tale is a time-bending love story, supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund.

Superficially similar to movies such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Time Travellers Wife, the classic love story is actually inspired from Einstein’s belief that time is a relative concept.

“It’s hoping to get people to look at time in a different way and look at the world in a slightly different way. It’s very much inspired by the philosophical ramifications of Einstein’s relativity, which is perhaps a strange subject for a film.”

With a complex storyline and a theme ultimately played backwards, Jones admits he wrote the script with Samuel specifically in mind for the main role of Otto.

“I thought he is such a terrific actor and he has been a real champion of the project. I was very much hoping to work with him.

“He was brilliant. During the film, I noticed he threw in these lovely little touches, for example, he looks at every exit as an entrance, and every entrance as an exit. It’s a very subtle thing but it works for the film.”

Alongside Jones’ film, the showcase will be featuring three more of the best independent films from the festival. ‘Ella’ tells the story of The Australian Ballet’s first Indigenous dancer, ‘The Family’ is a provocative and heartbreaking investigation into one of Australia’s most notorious cults from the 60s, and ‘Long Way North’ is an animation following a Russian aristocrat travelling to the Arctic in search of her missing grandfather.

“I think it’s a great chance to see films that you might not otherwise have an opportunity to see or see films which will hopefully get a release further down the track before anyone else. It’s been a terrific program this year so I’d say most of all, it’s a great chance for regional towns to see some really entertaining and interesting films.”

In the words of the British director, settle in for a “cinematic weekend of time and memory, love and loss, and life and death.”

Written by Talia Rinaldo

When & Where: Regent Cinema, Ballarat – September 2-4, GPAC, Geelong – September 9-10 & Star Cinema Eaglehawk, Bendigo – September 16-18

For full program and booking details, head to the website.