Scene News: MIFF Record Slate of Premiere Fund Films

The MIFF Premiere Fund delivers seven world and Australian premieres to the 68th Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), including Paul Ireland’s gritty reimagining of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure staring Hugo Weaving and Maziar Lahooti’s highly anticipated directorial debut, Below

The Premiere Fund, which provides minority co-financing to new Australian quality theatrical (narrative and documentary) feature films that then premiere at MIFF, has invested in more than 70 projects including the MIFF 2019 slate.  Four of this year’s suite of Premiere Fund films have also been directed by alumni of the 
MIFF Accelerator Lab for emerging screen directors, including: John SheedyJayden StevensRodd Rathjen and Maziar Lahooti

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Reimagining the Bard’s play about morality, mercy and justice into a topical tale of love and loyalty, Ireland and his co-writer, the late Damian Hill (West of Sunshine, MIFF 2018), have crafted a touching story about a young Muslim woman, Jaiwara, who falls for a non-Muslim musician, Claudio. 

Ireland’s film takes audiences on an emotional, action-packed ride, with a beautifully-shot Melbourne as the backdrop. As Jaiwara, Megan Hajjar is luminous. Harrison Gilbertson (My Mistress, MIFF Premiere Fund 2014), Fayssal Bazzi (The Merger, MIFF 2018) and Daniel Henshall (Acute Misfortune, MIFF Premiere Fund 2018) join Hugo Weaving in a diverse ensemble that also includes Doris Younane and Mark Leonard Winter in fervently penetrating performance as Angelo. 

In BelowRyan Corr (Holding the Man) and Anthony LaPaglia (Balibo) star alongside Phoenix Raei (The Heights), Alison Whyte (The Kettering Incident), Morgana O’Reilly (Offspring) and Zenia Star (The Merger) in Maziar Lahooti’s pitch-black comedy. A unique, and uniquely provocative take on Australia’s controversial asylum-seeker detention system, Belowis a film that’s bound to get audiences talking.

Accelerator Lab alumnus director Rodd Rathjen’s Buoyancy has its international premiere at MIFF following its world premiere at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival where it was hailed a “terse minimalist thriller” for its portrayal of aCambodian boy’s enslavement on a Thai fishing trawler. Stunningly shot by cinematographer Michael Latham (Island of the Hungry Ghosts and Strange Colours, MIFF 2018), Buoyancy was filmed on location in Cambodia with a cast of non-actors who lend the work a vérité feel that underscores the real-life urgency of its message.

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