Sit courtside as the Boomers win their history-making Olympic medal and affirm Australia as a force to be reckoned with in global basketball. Rose Gold directed by Matthew Adekponya will enjoy its World Premiere this MIFF; recounting the win that earned them a podium spot, behind the US and France, their ‘rose gold’ third-place medal breaking a 65-year streak of losses and agonising near-misses.
Featuring previously unscreened footage and exclusive interviews with coaches, commentators and a star-studded line-up of Australian and NBA players including Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Andrew Gaze and Andrew Bogut, Rose Goldis an unmissable document of an unforgettable moment in Australian sport.
On a dark and gloomy night, a violent thunderstorm unleashes a tailspin of intrigue and paranoia as an elderly caravan park resident tangles with a mysterious woman in the deliciously unpredictable You’ll Never Find Me. Shot on a micro-budget by emerging South Australian filmmakers Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell, this ingenious genre piece – the only Australian selection at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival – makes thrilling use of its minimalist, unnerving premise before building to a climax as bizarre as it is shocking.
The Melbourne-set queer drama of Sunflower is a delicate marvel of low-budget independent local filmmaking, featuring energetic performances from lead Liam Mollica(Nowhere Boys) and supporting cast Luke J. Morgan, Elias Anton (Of an Age, MIFF Premiere Fund 2022) and Olivia Fildes. For his feature debut, writer-director Gabriel Carrubba set out to create a film that would “give queer teenagers hope, to show them that they’re not alone”; with this tender and poignant story of self-acceptance, he makes good on that promise.
Shot in the terrace home of writer-director Jason Di Rosso– best known as host of ABC Radio National’s The Screen Show – this essay documentary serves as a means of bridging not just physical distance but also the emotional and philosophical breach between a son and his dying father. The Hidden Spring joins the ranks of Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie (MIFF 2016), Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog (MIFF 2016) and Margot Nash’s The Silences (MIFF 2015), all of which have shown the genre’s unique capacity to examine grief.
Hailing from all corners of the globe, MIFF’s international film roster offers a window to other cities, other lives and other worlds.
With a laconic Jarmuschian vibe, Fremont is a heartfelt comedic ode to the immigrant experience. Director Babak Jalali (Radio Dreams, MIFF 2016) has created a wistful character comedy, shot in stunning black-and-white Academy ratio, that is both wryly funny and poignantly melancholic. Real-life Afghan refugee Anaita Wali Zada, in her debut performance, gives Donya an extraordinary emotional depth, and is beautifully assisted by comedian Gregg Turkington (better known to some as Neil Hamburger), Jeremy Allen White (The Bear) and a superb supporting cast who memorably embody the film’s many loveable characters.
Inspired by classical Persian ghazal poetry and taking its title from a work by Iranian iconoclast Forugh Farrokhzad, Terrestrial Verses is composed of vignettes that capture the plight of ordinary Iranians navigating increasingly oppressive life in Tehran. In their potent first collaboration, award-winning Iranian directors Ali Asgari (The Silence, MIFF 2016; The Baby, MIFF 2015) and Alireza Khatami (Oblivion Verses) deliver a biting portrait of working-class people pushing back against the indignities – and absurdities – of Iran’s religious and bureaucratic institutions.
Razor-sharp, brimming with insight and humour, and never shy to provoke some laughs, The Nature of Love is the third feature from Canadian actor turned director Monia Chokri (A Brother’s Love, MIFF 2019; An Extraordinary Person, MIFF 2014). In this Cannes Un Certain Regard comedy, the ineffability of romance is put to the test by an unfaithful married philosopher. Forty-year-old Sophia is a university lecturer with expertise in the philosophy of love, rattling off lines by Plato, whenever she can. But her marriage to a fellow academic, while comfortable, has grown lifeless and dull. Passion overrides when she meets Sylvain, the hulking, hirsute builder in charge of renovating their lake cabin.
A grieving girl (vibrant newcomer Lola Campbell) connects with her estranged father (Harris Dickinson, Triangle of Sadness, MIFF 2022) in this Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-winning debut. Infused with warmth and light, Charlotte Regan’s energetic and inventive Scrapperdepicts coming of age with stinging frankness, tempered with whimsy, wit and even forays into magic realism – a style that’s been described as a blend of Ken Loach and Wes Anderson.
Nine-year-old Sofia Otero made history as the youngest actor to be awarded the Berlinale’s prestigious Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance for her work in 20,000 Species of Bees. Beautifully shot on a handheld camera in Basque country, this empathetic exploration of gender and generations is a tender and compassionate film about the trans experience by director Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren.
Premiering at this year’s Berlinale, Sam H Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s exhilarating debut Femme, masterfully toys with the passive weakness often associated with the ‘femme’ label through the story of drag queen who decides to turn the tables on his abuser after being attacked outside a London nightclub. Intriguing and topical, and with sensational star turns from Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Candyman) and George MacKay (True History of the Kelly Gang), the film is an explosive neon-lit morality play that showcases a bracing, subversive new direction for the genre.
The French New Wave lives on in The Breaking Ice; the luminous, snow-covered Gen Z love triangle from Wet Season (MIFF 2020) and Ilo Ilo (MIFF 2013) director Anthony Chen. Chen (whose recent film Drift also screens at this year’s MIFF) thrilled Cannes audiences with this valentine to the French nouvelle vague – especially François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim and Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande à part (MIFF 1965). Intimate and self-consciously cinematic, the film is so ethereally observed that its metaphors for youthful disaffection and the possibility of transformation never feel heavy-handed. Instead, the Singaporean director ensures his film’s emotional power comes from its evanescence: the freedom of realising nothing should be forever frozen.
Adapted from Alysia Abbott’s 2013 memoir by first-time Australian writer-director Andrew Durham, Fairyland is the heartfelt Sofia Coppola-produced drama exploring the intricacies of a father-daughter bond blossoming amid queer liberation and the AIDS crisis. Powerfully understated performances from Scoot McNairy (True Detective) and Emilia Jones (CODA, MIFF 2021) are further buoyed by an exquisite ensemble cast, which includes Geena Davis, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova (Bodies Bodies Bodies, MIFF 2022) and Australian actor Cody Fern (American Horror Story).
In Master Gardener, Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver deliver outstanding, nuanced performances in revered Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Schrader’s latest explosive study of male guilt and redemption. Ever since Taxi Driver, Schrader has forged his esteemed career on Travis Bickle–esque ‘God’s lonely man’ archetypes. Narvel is no exception, with Edgerton’s restrained performance ranking among his very best. As Norma, Weaver is equally impressive; her pointed tete-a-tetes with Quintessa Swindell, who plays Maya, are an absolute highlight. Following First Reformed (MIFF 2018) and The Card Counter, the film rounds out Schrader’s informal trilogy of films centred on troubled masculinity and redemption – yet it’s also the most optimistic film he’s ever made.
The low-budget, high-impact Tiger Stripes has already made its mark, becoming the first film from a Malaysian female director to be selected for Cannes and the first Malay-language film to scoop the Grand Prize at Cannes Critics’ Week. Debut writer-director Amanda Nell Eu’s fascination with body horror, the South-East Asian folk tale of the were-tiger and her own experience of feeling “like a monster” during puberty motivates the darkly funny story of a 12-year-old Malaysian girl whose body is changing in more ways than one.
Kamal Lazraq’s feature debut, Hounds, is an audacious noir thriller with an ironic and occasionally very dark under current of farce. Bringing echoes of the Coen brothers and Tarantino to the mean streets of Morocco, the Cannes Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner is a magnificently visualised genre film with an almost vérité sensibility.
The ethical questions of Soylent Green are presented in a new light in the Berlinale Encounters–premiering White Plastic Sky, an imaginative collaboration between writer/designer/directors Sarolta Szabó and Tibor Bánóczki (Milk Teeth, MIFF 2008). A hundred years from now, humankind has made a desperate bargain with a degraded Earth: at the age of 50, every citizen must transform into a tree to feed the next generation. The rotoscope animation technique seen in Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly (MIFF 2006) and The Spine of Night (MIFF 2021) here conjures a dreamlike future world whose stunning aesthetic echoes the monumental brutalism of communist and fascist Hungary.
MIFF’s compelling real world and nonfiction filmmaking slate will illuminate the ideas, people and events that must be shared: from beloved Hollywood icons and lives lived in the limelight to those whose stories are normally hidden from view.
German auteur Wim Wenders (Perfect Days, MIFF 2023) presents a majestic portrait of compatriot, art world luminary and friend Anselm Kiefer, exploring the maximalist aesthetics of Kiefer’s art, to his personal inspirations, obsessions and outlook. Shot in stunningly rendered 3D 6K, Kiefer’s ambitious oeuvre appears tangible, shown from sweeping vantages impossible in a gallery setting. Anselmalso provides a glimpse into the director’s creative camaraderie with his subject, both men haunted by the horror of WWII and its ripple effects across German society.
Sundance Audience Award-winner Beyond Utopia is an extraordinary white-knuckle account of bravery against the odds, chronicling the individuals risking their lives to defect from North Korea and the pastor granting them passage. Like Navalny (MIFF 2022) and Cartel Land (MIFF 2015) before it, Madeleine Gavin’s film dares to pierce the shroud of secrecy, with never-before-seen footage of the defectors’ high-stakes escape making for a breathless examination of just how far some are willing to go to survive.
Told entirely through archival footage, Time Bomb Y2Kcaptures the speculation, paranoia and pop-cultural fallout surrounding the arrival of the year 2000 when a flaw in the coding of most computers saw the technological age on the precipice of disaster. Going beyond nostalgia, Marley McDonald and Brian Becker’s comprehensive time capsule sheds light on humanity’s response to the threat, from those who saw it as a mere quirk in the system to others who feared doomsday was just around the corner.
Highly-respected auteur Wang Bing (Ta’ang, MIFF 2016; Alone, MIFF 2013) documents the breakneck pace of China’s garment factories in Youth (Spring). For the workers on Happiness Road, life is anything but. This street is a microcosm of Zhili, a regional manufacturing capital 150 kilometres from Shanghai that specialises in children’s clothing, where factories are mostly manned by young recruits from neighbouring provinces. Their days are soundtracked by C-pop, which they blast to drown out the whir of industrial sewing machines, churning out wares at unfathomable speeds to meet punishing quotas. One of the rare documentaries selected for the Cannes competition, the filmcaptures the rhythms and routines of a rapacious industry, forming an unofficial companion piece to Wang’s Bitter Money.