Melbourne International Film Festival brings bumper 70th-anniversary program to regional Victorian cinemas

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Melbourne International Film Festival brings bumper 70th-anniversary program to regional Victorian cinemas

MIFF will bring new titles to screens in Warrnambool, Echuca, Sorrento, Geelong, Eaglehawk, Bairnsdale, Bright, Castlemaine and Mildura.

Returning for its 70th iteration this month, Melbourne International Film Festival is bringing a monumental program to cinemas and screens at home for its first in-cinema festival since 2019.

With premiere showcases, buzzworthy international features and special anniversary events, Melbourne’s city and surrounds will be consumed by film for 18 days (4-21 August), with 257 feature films, 102 shorts and 12 XR works for MIFF’s 70th anniversary. Among them are 18 world premieres and 177 Australian premieres, plus a record 61 films straight out of Cannes.

“MIFF in 2022 marks an extraordinary welcome back to Melbourne cinemas and beyond following two years of Covid-19 disruption – a full-scale program, suburban and regional expansions across nine country Victorian settings, and Australia-wide access to an incredible film program via MIFF Play,” artistic director Al Cossar said in a statement.

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While Melbourne will be a hive of action for cinephiles, the leading and longest-running film festival is also expanding into regional areas, stretching the film festival’s footprint across the state throughout the month of August.

MIFF’s suburban and regional Victorian screenings will kick off a week from MIFF’s official opening, on Friday, August 12 and run through to the end of the festival on August 21. MIFF’s regional program will take to some of the most beautiful and heritage cinemas across the state, including to Geelong’s beautiful art house theatre, The Pivotonian Cinema, as well as Bairnsdale, Bendigo, Bright, Castlemaine, Echuca, Mildura, Sorrento and Warrnambool.


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The MIFF Opening Night film for regional audiences is Franklin where personal entwines with political as a young Tasmanian activist follows in the literal footsteps of his late father, who in the 1980s fought to save the pristine Franklin River wilderness. This film will take audiences to one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes to bear witness not only its rarely seen landscapes but the incredible events that cemented it in Australia’s history and remains relevant more than ever – the now-infamous, and ultimately victorious, campaign of blockades, protests, lawsuits, and political wrangling to save the river – a campaign that was a key part of the development of the Australian Greens movement.

Australian talent abounds once again in this year’s regional program, including Of an Age from director-on-the-rise Goran Stolevski; a trio of amazingly accomplished female coming-of-age stories in Sweet As (featuring in the Headliners strand), Moja Vesna (which was selected for Berlinale Generations), and Petrol (screening in MIFF’s Bright Horizons Competition); timely spotlighting of key mental health and social issues in Under Cover; and tackling the present environmental challenges in Greenhouse by Joost.

Other titles to look forward to include Sissy, Because We Have Each Other, Volcano Man and Something In The Dirt.

In their second feature collaboration, which premiered to raucous acclaim as SXSW 2022’s Midnighters opener, Aussie co-directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes indulge in lampooning the hallucinatory look and feel – not to mention ravenous excess – of aspirational social media. The Canberra-shot Sissy, starring Aisha Dee (The Bold Type), is screening in regional Vic and takes you on a reaction roller-coaster: from screams of “LOL” to shrieks at the gnarliest gore in this depraved, decidedly local revenge tale.

Much as they did in The Endless (MIFF 2017) and Spring (MIFF 2014), filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead direct, produce, edit and star in Something in the Dirt, a DIY sci-fi mind-bender with the kitchen-sink thrown in. Against the backdrop of a semi-apocalyptic, fire-ravaged LA, the film is a COVID chamber piece of sorts that also offers a blackly comic take on filmmaking itself via a highly meta, mockumentary framework.

Volcano Man is other one to look out for. When a filmmaker son sets out to make a documentary about his filmmaker father, long-buried feelings and dormant memories bubble to the surface. Richard Crawley’s passion for cinema was so ardent that he recorded his young family’s every moment and milestone on video. To pay the bills, he channelled this love for the lens into music photography, snapping such acts as the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and the Jackson Five. But then tragedy struck and snuffed out Richard’s creative and parental fire. Now, his adult son James attempts to understand Richard’s inner turmoil after discovering 30 hours of confessional footage, in the process making sense of the 70-year-old’s newfound zest for life. The film is deeply moving and touches on important themes of dealing with grief, and addressing men’s mental health, it is also incredibly funny and a beautiful exploration of a father/son relationship.

Because We Have Each Other, an intimate and heart-warming film by director Sari Braithwaite which takes us into the home of a neurodivergent, working-class family to share in the mundane and the magnificent is also a great pick from the regional program. A masterclass in slice-of-life documentary, the film embeds you in the Barneses’ outer-suburban home as you partake in memories cherished, musings on the universe, and moments wacky and dramatic, while also learning about each person’s vulnerabilities and deepest traumas – presenting a portrait of life, love and family unlike any other.

Screening in Bendigo, Orchestra Victoria will celebrate local cinema with performances of some of the most beloved scores from Victorian film history, including Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Railway Man, Mad Max, Noise, The Dressmaker and The Legends of the Guardians, in Sounds of the Screen: Movie Music Across Victorian Landscapes.

The first feature film in eight long years from Israeli director Ari Folman (The Congress, MIFF 2013), Where Is Anne Frank approaches the famous Holocaust diary from the perspective of Kitty (voiced by Bridgerton’s Ruby Stokes), the imaginary girl to whom Anne addressed her correspondence. In this wondrous retelling, Kitty comes to life in modern Amsterdam and embarks on a time-hopping adventure to uncover the mystery of Anne’s whereabouts. As she searches for her friend, she discovers a whole host of other people who, like Anne, have been placed in an impossible situation. Where Is Anne Frank is a breathtaking, timely work that melds fantasy and memory, history and hope, from one of our era’s most inventive screen storytellers.

Other titles to look out for include The Quiet Girl, Mass, Dreaming Walls, The Humans, Where Is Anne Frank, Navalny, 6 Festivals, Millies Lies Low and The Reason I jump. There are also the Australian shorts sessions which features some great local talent – including the George-Alex Nagle behind Mate which was the first Australian film to win the International Grand Prix at the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival. The film is a relentless encounter with self-destruction.

MIFF regional runs from August 12 to August 21 2022. You can find out more here