MIFF unveils its full program, including a bunch of thrilling films screening in Geelong this August

MIFF unveils its full program, including a bunch of thrilling films screening in Geelong this August


The likes of Love in Bright Landscapes, Off Country, Together Together and Nitram will be showing at The Pivotonian Cinema.

Celebrating its 69th edition, Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has revealed its 2021 program, with an astonishing lineup of 283 international and Australian films and transformative screen experiences.

Presenting 199 feature films, 84 shorts and 10 XR experiences, the program includes 40 world premieres — the most in the festival’s history — and 154 Australian premieres, with 62 films available on MIFF Play — the festival’s online screening platform.

Returning to familiar theatres across Melbourne, MIFF is also set to expand to eight regional centres for the first time in 2021, including to Geelong’s beautiful art house theatre, The Pivotonian Cinema, as well as Bendigo, Castlemaine, Echuca, Mildura and Bright.

As part of the program announcement, 16 highly anticipated films will be screening in Geelong this year.

The key takeaways

  • Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has revealed its 2021 program
  • 16 exciting films will be making their way to Geelong
  • Tickets are on sale Friday July 16

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Australian films are at the heart of this year’s program, with a record 11 Premiere Fund films already announced including Ablaze, Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution, Hating Peter Tatchell, Lone Wolf, Off Country, Paper City, and Uluru & The Magician, which will be showing at the Pivotonian.

Off Country is particularly exciting for the Geelong region, in an eye-opening and empathetic film that surrounds Indigenous teenagers navigating exams, social dramas and maintaining meaningful connections to home while at boarding school. Filmed at Geelong Grammar, Off Country follows several students, who, despite hailing from distinct nations and having vastly different circumstances, each share a commitment to doing themselves and their families proud – no matter the difficulties.

For the music fans, MIFF is going behind the scenes of some of the best known, and lesser-known musical icons. For those in Geelong, the notoriously shy and vastly talented Courtney Barnett pulls back the curtain in Anonymous Club, an intimate first-person exposition on creativity, vulnerability and artistic life on the road directed by Danny Cohen.

Storied Australian rock band The Triffids, and the triumph and ultimate tragedy of their brilliant frontman David McComb, are the focus for Love in Bright Landscapes from director Jonathan Alley, which is also showing at the Pivotonian. Supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, this expansive feature documentary brings together interviews with the likes of music luminary Paul Kelly, Triple J’s Richard Kingsmill and the late scholar Niall Lucy, as well as never-before-seen family footage and snippets of newly-discovered writing by McComb.

Keeping the music going, I’m Wanita will also be screening. Australia’s self-crowned ‘Queen of Honky-Tonk’, renegade country singer Wanita Bahtiyar, is a force of nature, with a voice to match. Matthew Walker (Heart of the Queen) presents an energetic and empathetic portrait of a true original and her colourful life, as she follows her dreams and records her final album in the home of country music. Raucous and full of heart, I’m Wanita is a carefully cut gem of a film.

Other films screening in Geelong this year include music documentary We Are The Thousand; comedy feature Together Together where rising alt-comedy star Patti Harrison joins Ed Helms in this wry surrogate-pregnancy comedy that upends traditional gender dynamics and subverts expectations; NZ documentary James and Isey which follows 99 year old Isey and her devoted son James who prepare for the party of a lifetime; and Blind Ambition, where refugees with a passion for wine dream big and defy expectations in this feel-good film of Olympic proportions.

For animal lovers, Stray is a must see! Hot Docs 2020’s Best International Feature Documentary winner offers a dog’s-eye view of life in Istanbul. Immersed in their day-to-day existence, we see how the dogs depend on the kindness of strangers and how integral these interactions are to the city’s soul.

For those that like something a little darker, MIFF’s Geelong program will also be screening the controversial Nitram, a narrative depiction of the events leading up to one of the darkest chapters in modern Australian history from MIFF Accelerator Lab alumnus director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) – the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. Filmed in Geelong, Nitram comes to MIFF straight from Cannes, where it was the first Australian film to screen as part of the illustrious festival’s official competition in 10 years – and the first Victorian film to do so in more than 30 years.

These films make up only a small portion of an incredible program from MIFF, the first of its kind in the festival’s history.

“This year, MIFF continues to evolve — to meet the moment, and to meet audiences where they are. What will not change is the extraordinary lineup of cinematic adventures, from home and afar, waiting for them,” says MIFF’s Artistic Director, Al Cossar.

“These are anticipated festival blockbusters, experimentations, breakthrough discoveries, and a huge lineup of incredible Australian talent. We will again share a world of cinema, reignited, to welcome Melburnians back to places far beyond the familiarities of the last year.”

You can view the full program here. The 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival is in cinemas 5 – 15 August and online 14 – 22 August. Tickets go on sale to the public next Friday 16 July.