Scene News: MIFF reveals plentiful 2023 program including Cannes highlights, Music on Film line-up and Closing Night Gala

The big reveal has happened: the program for the festival’s 71st edition is live! It’s ready to be discovered, highlighted, colour-coded, scheduled – the inevitable clashes debated, favourites selected. 2023 will also see the second year of our Bright Horizons competition, supported by VicScreen, presenting incredible breakthrough films and filmmakers to Melbourne audiences.

  • Cinemas: 3–20 August
  • Online: 18–27 August
  • Regional: 11–13 and 18–20 August


Theater Camp

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) tonight announced its full 2023 film program for the festival’s 71st edition. With a blockbuster line-up of 267 films, MIFF raises the curtain on an extraordinary selection of features, shorts, restorations, retrospectives and XR experiences in-cinemas from 3-20 August; with regional screenings from 11-13 and 18-20 August; and from 18-27 August via the festival’s online viewing platform, MIFF Play.

This year, MIFF invites audiences to return to the cinema – with one another – for 18 days of in-person programming, discovery and unique experiences. Across Victoria, the festival will deliver hotly-anticipated Cannes titles, festival circuit favourites, World Premiere arrivals and a bounty of local releases to the film-loving city of Melbourne and beyond.

Tonight’s announcement also includes news of the festival’s Closing Night Gala presentation of hilarious musical mockumentary Theater Camp, and the full suite of films, all Australian Premieres, vying for one of the world’s richest film prizes in the return of MIFF’s Bright Horizons feature film competition.

Expanding on the stacked screening schedule, the 2023 event will also play host to an incisive talks offering spanning artist conversations and comprehensive retrospectives set to take audiences behind the scenes and beyond. Festival-goers can expect an impressive guests program including visiting creatives such as Celine Song, whose film Past Lives is already garnering Oscar buzz, as well as Mark Duplass (The Morning ShowLanguage Lessons, MIFF 2021) and Mel Eslyn set to attend ahead of their Victorian premiere of Biospherean uproariously funny buddy comedy with a heart of darkness, which marks Eslyn’s directorial debut.

“With our full 2023 program release, audiences ready themselves again for the remarkable cinematic feats of a MIFF Melbourne takeover this August – eclectic and electric journeys through film’s present, past, and possible futures; your winter made bright on the world of the big screen,” says Al Cossar, Artistic Director.

As ever, MIFF delights in bringing Melburnians together, to create an adventure through film like no other, to make your own. We can’t wait to welcome you to MIFF this year!”

The festival’s regional program showcases some of the best of the fest between 11-13 and 18-20 August in seven statewide locales: Bendigo, Bright, Castlemaine, Echuca, Geelong, Rosebud and Warrnambool.

Beyond cinemas, MIFF Play presents an assortment of highly curated films to choose from that are only available at MIFF, nationally from 18-27 August. Born out of necessity in 2020, MIFF remains committed to the online viewing platform, ensuring access to the best of cinema is accessible for audiences near or far to enjoy from home.

“From one of the world’s biggest film competitions, to the highly anticipated Music on Film Gala, MIFF is set to inspire audiences with another exhilarating year of the best Australian and international cinema,” VicScreen CEO Caroline Pitcher said. “VicScreen is delighted to continue our long standing partnership with this world-class screen event. We can’t wait to see the city abuzz in August, when the festival begins to take over some of Melbourne’s most iconic venues.”

Leading MIFF’s 2023 Premiere Fund line-up is Accelerator Lab alumna Noora Niasari’s Sundance award-winning Shayda (the 7th Premiere Fund film to open MIFF). Four more Premiere Fund films have their World Premiere at MIFF-71: actor Mark Leonard Winter’s feature directing debut The Rooster (presented by The Monthly), starring Phoenix Raei and Hugo Weaving which, like Shayda, will go on to compete for MIFF’s Bright Horizon Award. From The Australian Dream (MIFF 2019) producers, Australia’s Open (presented by 7am Podcast) gives the inside scoop on a modest Melbourne tennis tournament transforming into one of the sport’s four World Grand Slams. Memory Film: A Film Makers Diary is Jeni Thornley’s immersive cine-poem meditation on liberation, change and legacy; and This Is Going to Be Big, a life-affirming exploration of arts participation changing lives and communities as a high-school group overcomes obstacles to stage a John Farnham-inspired time-travelling musical.

Alongside the Bright Horizons competition, MIFF will again present the Blackmagic Design Australian Innovation Award and MIFF Audience Award, plus a new award, in collaboration with Kearney Group, recognising an outstanding Australian First Nations creative within a film playing in the MIFF program.

The inaugural winner of the First Nations Film Creative Award will receive a $20,000 cash prize and $25,000 worth of financial services from Kearney Group. The pool of contenders can sit across all film creative departments including directing, producing, screenwriting, composing, editing, cinematography, acting, production design, art direction and sound design. This continent has seen 60,000 + years of storytelling. This new award allows MIFF, alongside the Kearney Group, to support First Nations talent and storytelling across Australia and to highlight achievements on the global stage.

Winners of all prize categories will be named at the MIFF Awards on Saturday 19 August.


Following its inaugural delivery in 2022, the Bright Horizons film competition returns with a fresh suite of features championing first and second-time directors. The competition films, all Australian Premieres, represent the new, the next, the breakthrough and the best. Many of the filmmakers and the jury will attend the festival as guests.

The 2023 winner will be chosen by an expert independent jury panel composed of co-Jury presidents Saul Williamsand Anisia Uzeyman, co-directors of last year’s Bright Horizons-winning Neptune Frost, revered documentarian Alexandre O. Philippe, former Camera d’Or winner Anthony Chen, Australian performer Zoe Terakes and Indonesian director Kamila Andini.

Many of the filmmakers and the jury will attend the festival as guests.

Presented by VicScreen, the Bright Horizons competition awards a $140,000 prize to the winning filmmaker, making it one of the most substantial film prizes in the world.

This year’s Bright Horizons Competition introduces 11 films by first and second-time directors, including two local feature directing debuts: Sundance Audience award-winner, Shayda, by Australian-Iranian filmmaker Noora Niasari, and The Rooster from actor turned writer-director Mark Leonard Winter.

From the international pool is Banel & Adama, the first longform work by Franco-Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy. The only debut selected for the 2023 Cannes competition, this lyrical tale of love and duty employs a local cast of non-professional actors to conjure a bewitching world of folklore, fate, madness and obsession in a haunting fable of star-cross’d lovers set in a rural Senegalese village.

How To Have Sex

The radiant, revelatory drama of How to Have Sex sees a sun-drenched, hormone-laden trip of teenage kicks turn dark in this compellingly contemporary navigation of sexual politics. Receiving the 2023 Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes, writer-director Molly Manning Walker – who was cinematographer on the Sundance prize-winning Scrapper(also screening at MIFF 2023) – staunchly refuses the coming-of-age clichés of her Hollywood counterparts.

Famed indie creative Sean Price Williams – whose cinematography credits include the Safdie brothers’ Good Time (MIFF 2017) and MIFF 2022 favourite Funny Pages – makes his feature directorial debut with a freewheeling picaresque trip through the cliques and communes of today’s USA. Screening straight from Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and penned by film critic Nick Pinkerton, the superb cast of The Sweet East is lead by Talia Ryder (Never Rarely Sometimes Always), Simon Rex (Red Rocket), Ayo Edebiri (The Bear), Earl Cave (The School For Good and Evil) and Australia’s own Jacob Elordi(Euphoria).

Working from her own script, director Sofia Alaoui uses an alien invasion to comment on class, religion and gender roles in contemporary Morocco – a feat that won her Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Vision. Like the hypnotic fog that spreads across the film’s landscape, Animalia envelops you in a trance state of new storytelling possibilities.

Having been awarded the 2023 Caméra d’Or at Cannes, Pham Thien An’s Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell is a formally accomplished, transcendental debut feature that follows a young man’s mystical journey across a beguiling rural Vietnam. With its hypnotic rhythm, exquisite visuals and textured sound design, Pham’s three-hour film evokes the work of such heavyweight auteurs as Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Tsai Ming-liang.

Powered by a star-making performance from Tia Nomore – a mother and aspiring doula plucked from the Oakland rap scene by director Savanah Leaf – Earth Mama is a delicate, absorbing portrait of motherhood set against the fallible US foster-care system. Rendered with mesmerising 16mm cinematography by Jody Lee Lipes, this arresting debut confidently tackles the complexities of American institutions through its empathetic character drama.

Opening this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week, Ama Gloria, the debut solo feature from French filmmaker and 2014 Camera d’Or winner Marie Amachoukeli (It’s Free for Girls, MIFF 2010) is a compellingly delicate narrative filled with warm, feel-good energy that’s impossible to resist. With a keenly observed sense of childhood brought to life by the same producers behind Celine Sciamma’s Petite Maman and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the film captures an unforgettably tender portrait of a six-year-old French girl’s bond with her Cape Verdean nanny.

Mexican actor turned director Lila Avilés’ second film Tótem (following 2018’s The Chambermaid) was awarded the Berlinale Prize of the Ecumenical Jury for the complex and sensitive way it illustrates the love that holds a family together during a time of great upheaval. With splendid acting from its cast of mostly non-professionals, The film presents a child’s-eye view of love, loss and life in all their messy, glorious, heartbreaking colour.

Franz Rogowski (also starring in MIFF 2023 film Passages) propels a mesmeric musing on wounded masculinity in Giacomo Abbruzzese’s sensorially and emotionally arresting debut dramatic feature, Disco Boy. Premiering in competition at the Berlinale, this luminous story of outsiders adrift in Paris secured cinematographer Hélène Louvart the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution.


Leading the Gala line-up is the International Premiere of the Premiere Fund-supported Shayda, which launches MIFF 2023 as the Opening Night Gala feature on Thursday 3 August. Written and directed by Tehran-born, Australian-raised MIFF Accelerator Lab alumna Noora Niasari, and executive-produced by Cate Blanchett’s Dirty Films, Shaydawill be introduced to Australian audiences for the first time off the back of its Audience Award win at Sundance earlier this year.

The following week will see the World Premiere of the much anticipated rock ‘n’ roll doc, Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story in a festival-first Music on Film Gala screening on Thursday 10 August. The definitive account of the life and legend of Australian rock royalty Michael Gudinski, Ego is both a rollicking personal story of the one-man music promoting machine and a rip-roaring record of the artists he helped rocket to the top of the charts; its star-studded interview roll-call includes features Kylie MinogueDave Grohl, Sting, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jimmy Barnes, and more.

MIFF’s Closing Night Gala showcase promises part Waiting for Guffman, part Wet Hot American Summer in the Australian Premiere of Sundance and SXSW quick-witted crowd-pleaser Theater Camp. The feature directing debut of Nick Lieberman and Molly Gordon (Booksmart), who co-wrote the film with Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) and Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals) – the last three of whom also have key onscreen roles, Theater Camp follows a ragtag cast and crew of theatre nerds who bring extra drama to save their beloved summer camp.


Arriving hot off the festival circuit, distributor bidding wars and early awards season chatter, the MIFF Headliners bill boasts an enviable line-up, including major competition winners from Cannes among a total of 49 titles from the prestigious international film festival.

Bristling with emotional depth, the Palme d’Or–winning courtroom drama by Justine TrietAnatomy of a Fall, puts the complexities of a relationship on trial in a legal procedural investigating the nature of truth. Sandra Hüller(Toni Erdmann, MIFF 2016) is utterly compelling as the defendant, a successful writer accused of murdering her husband who has died in a scenario much like an incident in one of her novels.

Hirokazu Kore-eda (Broker, MIFF 2022; Shoplifters, MIFF 2018) has maintained a fascinating, prolific career of exploring universal human impulses through the lens of fractured and makeshift families. His lauded latest film Monster – awarded Best Screenplay and the Queer Palm at Cannes – serves as a tender answer to the question ‘Who’s the monster?’. Adding to Monster’s atmosphere of well-meant misapprehension is a delicate piano score by Ryuichi Sakamoto in his final screen work before his death in March.

May December

Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman team-up in Todd Haynes’ perfectly camp melodrama that dredges up a sexual scandal, May December. At 36, Gracie (Moore) caused a worldwide furore and landed herself behind bars after her predatory sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy was made public. Some 20 years later, now married to him with children of their own, the complexities resurface when actor Elizabeth (Portman) arrives in their hometown ahead of playing Gracie in an upcoming biopic. But Elizabeth’s stripping of her subject’s layers triggers a crossing of boundaries – from every which way.

Turkish auteur and 2014 Palme d’Or winner for Winter SleepNuri Bilge Ceylan (The Wild Pear Tree, MIFF 2018) presents an ambitious epic of maladjusted male ego in the story of a rural art teacher accused of misconduct. Unfolding by turns as a campus drama, a rumination on ethics, a spiky love triangle and a complicated (and complicating) portrait, About Dry Grasses patiently excavates its embittered protagonist’s self-image as beloved mentor and his problematic desire for adulation – where it won the award for Best Actress in the Cannes Competition this year.

Following on from Happy as Lazzaro (MIFF 2018) and The WondersLa Chimera completes Alice Rohrwacher’s unofficial trilogy, set in and around the stunning Tuscan landscapes of her birth. This latest enchanting, funny, and lush film stars Isabella Rossellini and a transcendent Josh O’Connor (The Crown) as preternaturally skilled archaeologist who goes on an Orphean quest for his lost love.

After a decade-long hiatus, Catherine Breillat (Abuse of Weakness, MIFF 2014; Bluebeard, MIFF 2009) returns with a daring portrait of a woman’s intimate relationship with her teen stepson, starring Léa Drucker. Unafraid to be subversive, the Cannes-competing Last Summer marks Breillat’s triumphant – and characteristically bold – comeback.

Wim Wenders’ (whose film Anselm also screens at this year’s MIFF) Perfect Days is perhaps the most quintessential distillation of the 77-year-old filmmaker’s signature style and themes – even winning the Best Actor award at this year’s Cannes for Koji Yakusho. In this triumphant return to narrative film, Wenders tackles life’s little details – mess and all – in a sublime, deceptively simple portrait of existence and joy.

In 19th-century Bologna, a pope’s audacious act tears the Catholic Church and all of Italy apart in the gripping true story of Kidnapped. Bowing in competition at Cannes, this absorbing historical drama from revered writer-director Marco Bellocchio (The Traitor; Blood of My Blood, MIFF 2016) proves that, more than half a century into his career, the octogenarian still has an unwavering eye and a stellar command of operatic flourish.

Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton take on a double role playing both mother and daughter in a return to Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter, executive-produced byMartin Scorsese. Following Hogg’s two Souvenir films, her latest work is a masterpiece from a director at the top of her game and her eternally captivating muse, trading the aching realism of The Souvenir and its sequel for something much more menacing.


MIFF’s 2023 program builds on the festival’s status as the largest purveyor of Australian cinema in the world with a bumper crop of home-grown talent to be discovered.

The first virtually-produced Australian feature, Mercy Roadis an unrelentingly tense psychological thriller from Tracksdirector John Curran. Teamed with Alex Proyas’s (Dark City: Director’s Cut, MIFF 2017) production company Heretic Foundation, the film is brought to life using real-time in-camera compositing techniques involving LED screens and Unreal Engine. Matching Curran’s ingenious direction is an arresting turn from Hollywood star-on-the-rise Luke Bracey (Point Break; Hacksaw Ridge), who is ably supported by fellow cast members Toby Jones (Berberian Sound Studio, MIFF 2012) and Susie Porter (Cargo; Ladies in Black).

Voices In Deep follows a tragedy at sea that engulfs the lives of two orphaned refugees and an Australian aid worker who are inextricably woven together in a bracing, humanistic drama. The second feature from Jason Raftopoulos, whose Venice-premiering debut West of Sunshine (MIFF 2015) first demonstrated his social-realist directorial eye. In this equally confronting yet compassionate follow-up – informed by his own Greek-Cypriot family’s experiences of migration – he arranges a stellar cast of Australian and Greek actors, including Yorgos Lanthimos regular Angeliki Papoulia (Dogtooth, MIFF 2009; The Lobster), to once again shine a light on lives relegated to the shadows in this World Premiere event.

Rose Gold

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 BogutRose 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 MeShot 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. MorganElias 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 DickinsonTriangle 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 DurhamFairyland 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 DavisAdam LambertMaria Bakalova (Bodies Bodies Bodies, MIFF 2022) and Australian actor Cody Fern (American Horror Story).

In Master GardenerJoel 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.

Room 999

In Room 999, Wim Wenders (Perfect Days and Anselm, MIFF 2023) sat down at Cannes in 1982 with a who’s who of contemporary filmmakers, from Steven Spielberg to Jean-Luc Godard, to muse on the state of cinema – which was then experiencing something of a crisis thanks to the rise of home video. Thirty years later, actor and director Lubna Playoust (The French Dispatch) gathered 30 prominent filmmakers at Cannes for a sequel, asking each of them to reflect on the fate of the silver screen in the age of streaming and quickly churned content. Seated in a hotel room with a TV to replicate Wenders’s original setup, luminaries including Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, MIFF 2011), Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness, MIFF 2022), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here, MIFF 2018) and Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper, MIFF 2016), along with Cronenberg, Luhrmann, Denis and Wenders himself, offer a fascinating diversity of thoughts – from wary to hopeful to amusingly indifferent – on a medium in the midst of sociological and technological flux.

Landscape cinema titan James Benning invites audiences to contemplate Black history as he turns his structuralist lens on the first municipality in California to be established and governed exclusively by African Americans. Awarded a Feature Film Jury Special Mention at this year’s Cinéma du Réel, Allensworth rendered in the master filmmaker’s singular, contemplative style is something of a coda to last year’s sprawling interrogation of Benning’s homeland, The United States of America (MIFF 2022).

Winner of the Grand Prix and a FIPRESCI Award in Karlovy Vary’s Proxima section, Art Talent Show is a dryly humorous, Wiseman-esque film about the teachers at an esteemed Czech art school and their quest to discover the next generation of artists. With optimism and wit, Tomas Bojar and Adéla Komrzý’s observational camerawork and candid natural filmmaking pries open the inner workings of an establishment to ask: who gets to decide what art is?

Alexandre O.Philippe’s (Lynch/Oz, MIFF 2022; 78/52, MIFF 2017) gracious and heartfelt new documentary serves a touching tribute to the beloved figure of William Shatner, from Star Trek to actual space travel and everything in-between. Forgoing talking heads and conventional chronology, You Can Call Me Bill sees Shatner muse on a galaxy of topics – showbiz, his family, the environmental crisis, mortality – going boldly into the mind of a man who can honestly say he’s seen the future and lived to talk about it.


Year on year, MIFF’s beloved Music on Film line-up delivers fascinating backstage stories and documentaries to a city that almost loves music as much as it does film.

Stuffed with rare and unseen photos, artwork, letters and diaries, unreleased tracks and studio footage, Mutiny in Heaven: The Birthday Party directed by Ian White tells of the thrilling, debauched and frequently hilarious adventures of the legendary Melbourne band, in their own words.

Nick Cave, Rowland S. Howard, Mick Harvey, Tracy Pewand Phill Calvert each share their own sardonic recollections of their youthful hopes and dreams, chronicling the band’s struggles and successes, in a World Premiere must-see for post-punk fans.

Produced by Ben Affleck and Matt DamonKiss the Future recounts how determined local musicians banded together with U2 to offer hope to Bosnians trapped in war-torn Sarajevo. Interweaving clips from the era with contemporary interviews – including with former US president Bill Clinton – culminating in footage of U2’s historic 1997 concert in the bombed-out city. Suffused with anthemic music, this inspirational film is at once a trenchant vigil for a bloody chapter of Europe’s past and an examination of how the idealistic grandeur of rock music can offer a salve and a means of dissent.

In It’s Only Life After All, director Alexandria Bombach(On Her Shoulders, (MIFF 2018) chronicles the three-decade-long career of Indigo Girls, richly recounting how two unassuming childhood friends became some of the first out-and-proud musicians to go gold and platinum in the 80s and 90s. Weaving together intimate interviews, archival footage and previously unseen home-video recordings, this warm documentary captures the same humour and honesty that has always been at the heart of Indigo Girls’ beloved songs.

Andy Brown and Brian Lindstrom’s essential music documentary asks why the 1970s’ most original and ethereal folk singer, Judee Sill, has been all but forgotten today. Lost Angel: The Genius of Judee Sill is a celebration of Sill’s complicated talent: interviews with contemporary artists including Weyes Blood, Fleet Foxesand Big Thief’s Adrienne Lenker explain her songs’ impact, while archival interviews and extracts from Sill’s own notebooks provide a window into her troubled world.

Abebe-Butterfly Song

Discover the musical legacy and enduring friendship between celebrated Papuan musician Sir George Telek MBE and Not DrowningWaving’s David Bridie in Rosie Jones’ (The Family, MIFF Premiere Fund 2016) meaningful portrait of the cross-cultural artistic exchange. Abebe-Butterfly Song combines visits to Port Moresby and Rabaul with archival footage from tours and recording sessions in Australia, Europe and the Pacificas, as well as candid interviews with Telek and Bridie and a raft of fellow musicians including Peter Garrett, Archie Roach and David Byrne. The World Premiere will include a rare live performance post-screening with featured Melbourne musician David Bridie and Telek, in an extraordinary event not to be missed.


From the team behind epic environmental VR installation Gondwana (MIFF 2022) comes an intimate experience of (mis)perception. Director Ben Joseph Andrews suffers from a chronic vestibular condition characterised by destabilising episodes of dizziness or imbalance, whose symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days (or longer). Unlike his and producer Emma Roberts’ earlier work Gondwana – a durational VR that speculates on the endangered future of the Daintree rainforest – Turbulence: Jamais Vu reimagines the medium on a personal scale, taking form as an essayistic exploration of an invisible illness.

Co-presenting with the new, exciting festival Now or Never, hit the town and seek out the next illegal rave in this euphoric, multisensory joyride about the 1980s Acid House movement. With an extraordinary eye for historical detail, In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats incorporates 3D modelling, volumetric capture and animation with firsthand accounts from legendary ravers and iconic songs by Orbital, Joey Beltram and Neal Howard. This latest experience from famed VR filmmaker Darren Emerson (Common Ground, MIFF 2019; Invisible, MIFF 2016) is a visceral, ecstatic ode to a time when what mattered most was chasing that next dance-floor high.


Headlining the Auteurs Abridged: New Shorts by Masters program and arriving just shy of its World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival is Pedro Almodóvar’s much-anticipated Strange Way of Life starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. A tantalising glimpse into what Almodóvar might have done with Brokeback Mountain – a project he was offered, but which he turned down – this steamy tale of raunchy ranchers subverts the genre as only the iconic Spanish auteur could.

Strange Way of Life

From Cannes, the package also includes the final work by the late, legendary genius Jean Luc-Godard. Trailer of the Film That Will Never Exist: ‘Phony Wars’ is a dazzling glimpse into a feature film that never came to be. This unmissable short film reveals the material assembled by the French New Wave titan, which was accompanied by the following director’s statement: “Rejecting the billions of alphabetic diktats to liberate the incessant metamorphoses and metaphors of a necessary and true language by returning to the locations of past film shoots, while keeping track of modern times.”

The winner of the Berlinale’s Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) and Teddy Award for Best Short Film depicts a Yankunytjatjara man’s search for belonging in Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black). Fed up with life in Adelaide, Derik Lynch returns to Country in Aputula, a remote community in the Northern Territory, seeking spiritual healing. The journey triggers memories of his childhood and of his struggle to reconcile his identity as a queer man, an artist and an initiated Anangu community member. With stunning cinematography, rhythmic editing and a powerful voiceover, the film – co-directed by Lynch and Matthew Thorne – weaves together past and present in a deeply moving examination of homecoming, storytelling and self-acceptance.

Snow In September, the winner of Best Short Film at both Toronto and Venice, is a subtly menacing, Mongolia-set tale of sexual awakening. Following a confusing encounter with a mysterious older woman, teenager Devka’s burgeoning sexuality starts to take a darker turn. Mongolian director Lkhagvadulam (Dulmaa) Purev-Ochir captures the ease with which naivety can be corrupted, hinting at how early erotic experiences can pervert the trajectory of adult appetites. Turbulent emotions thrum just below the naturalistic surface of this nuanced study of masculinity, desire and power, building an unbearable yet ambiguous sense of foreboding that doesn’t relent.


This year we look back on the formidable legacy of the ‘mother of African cinema,’ Safi Faye, following her passing earlier in 2023. Director in Focus: Safi Faye explores her keen ethnographic lens and journey from actress to the first Sub-Saharan African woman to direct a commercially distributed film. From her first step into the spotlight in Jean Rouch’s comedy Little by Little to her trailblazing 1975 film Letter From My Village, the retrospective features a collection of trailblazing works, recognising Faye’s legacy and lasting influence in world cinema.

Presented by Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Director in Focus: Argento Restored will see horror lovers rejoice in a huge film project of twelve brand new 4k restorations by the master of Italian horror. Restored by Cinecittà and overseen by the director himself, all restorations will screen at MIFF in Australian Premieres. This special event will present lesser seen works alongside iconic films , including Deep Red and Tenebrae, inspired by Argento’s own brush with an obsessive fan to Do You Like Hitchcock?Four Flies on Grey Velvet and The Black Cat.

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Critics Campus, this year’s festival sees a retrospective on the forgotten gems, cult oddities and misunderstood masterpieces of the screen with Critical Condition – those films whose legacy has been connected to the critical conversation around them. Join a range of local and internationally attending critics such as Guy Lodge, Michael Koresky and Kelli Weston, as they focus the lens on the overlooked, underrated and most polarising films whose reputations were resuscitated by critics alike. Every film in the screening series will be complemented by conversation pre and post-screening through guest introductions and panel discussions. The six screenings will include Chantal Akerman’s shopping mall-set musical Golden Eighties and the transgressive landmark of anarcho-satire and queer hacktivism, Fresh Kill by Shu Lea Cheang.

Elsewhere, the 2023 MIFF Talks program, presented by University of Melbourne, includes discussions themed around cinema in the regions and the Bright Horizons film competition, as well as to this year’s instalment of the audience-beloved Consuming Culture talk: a roundtable dedicated to what we’re up to and how we’re up to when it comes to watching, reading and otherwise consuming film and media, co-presented with the Wheeler Centre.

​​Spend an hour at In Conversation: Celine Song’s Past Lives, with Festival Guest Celine Song whose stunning debut feature Past Lives is one of the most celebrated and talked-about of the year. Known for her playwriting, the New York–based Korean-Canadian artist will discuss her approach to work and the intimate intricacies of this film – a wistful ode to the lingering ghosts of what might have been – that stars Greta Lee (Russian Doll), Teo Yoo (Decision to Leave, MIFF 2022) and John Magaro (First Cow, MIFF 2020), and which chimes in MIFF’s Headliners strand.

MIFF 2022 Bright Horizons Award winner Saul Williams(Neptune Frost), who returns to the festival as co-President of this year’s Bright Horizons Jury, personally presents MIFF Bright Horizons Special Screening: Slam 4K Restoration. Twenty-five years ago, Slam bottled a 1990s US zeitgeist: the fierce optimism of the open-mic café scene, where Williams (who stars as Ray), Sonja Sohn (who plays Lauren), Bönz Malone, Beau Sia and Liza Jesse Peterson were among the writers and performers using poetry to spearhead social critique and criminal justice reform. Written collaboratively by its cast and director, the multi-award-winning independent filmmaker Marc Levin, Slam won both the Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Camera d’Or in 1998. Now, this glowing 4K digital restoration by the Sundance Institute, the Academy Film Archive and UCLA is ready to inspire a new generation to speak out against injustice.

For the ultimate food and film pairing, plan your night out with some of the year’s best films matched perfectly with some of the city’s stellar restaurants and bars. Featuring MIFF-curated pairings like The Rooster and Victoria by Farmer’s DaughtersThe Shadowless Tower and ARU, among others — food and film lovers alike can look to enjoy the culinary artistry at Collins Street’s La Madonna before feasting on the Palme d’Or winning Anatomy of a Fall, all in one night. All dinner locations are within walking distance from paired screenings, and reservations and tickets can be booked via QR code or at 


Hosted at ACMI, the Campari Cinema Lounge is the place to see and be seen. Pre and post-screening plans are sorted with the pop-up returning to Federation Square and serving specialty cocktails and delicious morsels and food offerings throughout the festival.

From aperitivo hour with a bar snack to a late-night tipple, film-lovers can expect added entertainment this MIFF season with guest DJs curated by Naarm-based radio station Skylab Radio; a menu designed by Hero’s Karen Martini; drinks by WynnsMountain GoatChampagne Duperrey; and Campari cocktails. The Lounge is open from 5pm until late throughout the festival.


The MIFF Ambassador program brings together some of the best and brightest from across Australian cinema, enlisting their expertise and experience to enliven the program with screenings, in conversations and selections of their top festival picks.

Join director and producer extraordinaire Robert Connolly(Paper Planes, MIFF Premiere Fund 2014; Balibo, MIFF Premiere Fund 2009) in a curated MIFF Ambassador Special Screening during the festival season as he presents a radiant 4K restoration of his debut feature, The Bank: an entertaining, anti-capitalist caper of greed and deception. Originally screened as MIFF 2001’s Opening Night film, Connolly’s rendition of the ‘battler vs institution’ stand-off propelled by stellar performances from David Wenham and Anthony LaPaglia has been newly remastered.

Other ambassadors for 2023 include esteemed directors Leah Purcell AM (The Drover’s Wife, MIFF 2021; acting in Shayda, MIFF Premiere Fund 2023; ); Justin Kurzel (Nitram, MIFF Premiere Fund 2021); actors Fayssal Bazzi (Late Night with the Devil, MIFF 2023); Mark Coles Smith(Keeping Hope, MIFF 2023; Sweet As, MIFF Premiere Fund 2022); actress Rose Byrne (Seriously Red, MIFF 2022), and the incomparable Rachel Griffiths AM (Muriel’s Wedding).

Galas and Special Events

  • Shayda
  • Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story
  • MIFF Ambassador Special Screening The Bank (Restoration)
  • MIFF Bright Horizons Special Screening Slam 4K Restoration (Marc Levin)
  • Theater Camp

Bright Horizons

  • Ama Gloria
  • Animalia
  • Banel & Adama
  • Disco Boy
  • Earth Mama
  • How to Have Sex
  • Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell
  • Shayda
  • The Rooster
  • The Sweet East
  • Tótem


  • About Dry Grasses
  • Anatomy of a Fall
  • Club Zero
  • Kidnapped
  • La Chimera
  • Last Summer
  • May December
  • Monster
  • Past Lives
  • Perfect Days
  • Showing Up
  • The Eternal Daughter


  • Australia’s Open
  • Birdeater
  • Godless – The Eastfield Exorcism
  • Keeping Hope
  • Kindred
  • Memory Film: A Filmmakers Diary
  • Mercy Road
  • Monolith
  • Rebel With a Cause – Part 1
  • Rose Gold
  • Sunflower
  • The Carnival
  • The Hidden Spring
  • The Rooster
  • Ukraine Guernica – Artist War
  • Voices in Deep

Asia Pacific

  • Absence
  • Autobiography
  • Bad Behaviour
  • Cobweb
  • Kayo Kayo Colour
  • Remembering Every Night
  • Sand
  • Shut Eye
  • Stone Turtle
  • Stonewalling
  • The Breaking Ice
  • The Shadowless Tower
  • Tiger Stripes
  • Walk Up

Africa & Middle East

  • All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White
  • Deserts
  • Goodbye Julia
  • Hounds
  • Inshallah a Boy
  • No Bears
  • Omen
  • Subtraction
  • Terrestrial Verses
  • Tommy Guns

Europe & UK

  • 20,000 Species of Bees
  • Afire
  • Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry
  • Blue Jean
  • Creature
  • Drift
  • Femme
  • It’s Raining in the House
  • Lost Country
  • Medussa Deluxe
  • One Last Evening
  • Passages
  • Scrapper

North America

  • A Couple
  • Biosphere
  • BlackBerry
  • Fairyland
  • Fremont
  • How to Blow Up a Pipeline
  • I Used to Be Funny
  • Master Gardener
  • Mutt
  • Radical
  • Riddle of Fire
  • Shortcomings
  • The Adults
  • The Maiden
  • The Nature of Love

Latin America

  • Charcoal
  • Eureka
  • Lost in the Night
  • Sorcery
  • The Buriti Flower
  • The Delinquents
  • The Face of the Jellyfish
  • Trenque Lauquen


  • A Still Small Voice
  • A Storm Foretold
  • Anselm
  • Art Talent Show
  • Beyond Utopia
  • Fledglings
  • Four Daughters
  • Happy Clothes – A Film About Patricia Field
  • Invisible Beauty
  • Iron Butterflies
  • Le Spectre de Boko Haram
  • Lotus Eyed Girl
  • Milisuthando
  • On the Adamant
  • Paradise
  • Pictures of Ghosts
  • R21 aka Restoring Solidarity
  • Room 999
  • Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
  • The Disappearance of Shere Hite
  • The Echo
  • The Eternal Memory
  • The Mother of All lies
  • The Tuba Thieves
  • Time Bomb Y2K
  • You Can Call Me Bill

Night Shift

  • birth-rebirth
  • Godless – The Eastfield Exorcism
  • Gods of the Supermarket
  • It Lives Inside
  • Late Night with the Devil
  • Perpetrator
  • Sleep
  • The Kingdom Exodus
  • You’ll Never Find Me
Music on Film

  • Abebe-Butterfly Song
  • Ego – The Michael Gudinski Story
  • It’s Only Life After All
  • Joan Baez I am a Noise
  • Kiss The Future
  • Little Richard – I Am Everything
  • Lost Angel – The Genius of Judee Sill
  • Louder Than You Think
  • Mutiny In Heaven – The Birthday Party
  • Squaring the Circle

Director in Focus: Safi Faye

  • Come and Work
  • I, Your Mother
  • Letter From My Village
  • Little by Little
  • Mossane

Argento Restored

  • Deep Red
  • Do You Like Hitchcock
  • Four Flies on Grey Velvet
  • Opera
  • Phenomena
  • Suspiria
  • Tenebrae
  • The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
  • The Black Cat
  • The Cat o’ Nine Tails
  • The Five Days
  • The Phantom of the Opera

Critical Condition

  • Fresh Kill
  • Golden Eighties
  • Lord Shango
  • Querelle
  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm – Take One
  • Trouble Everyday


  • Blood
  • I Heard It Through the Grapevine
  • Japanese Story
  • Millennium Mambo
  • Return to Reson
  • The Coolbaroo Club
  • The Munekata Sisters
  • Werckmeister Harmonies
  • With Love to the Person Next to Me


  • Allensworth
  • Conann
  • Gush
  • Hello Dankness
  • Youth (Spring)


  • Art Collage 1994
  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
  • Robot Dreams
  • Scarygirl
  • White Plastic Sky

MIFF Schools

  • Deep Sea
  • Little Nicholas – Happy as Can Be
  • Neneh Superstar
  • Paula
  • The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes
  • This is Going to Be Big

MIFF Shorts

  • 27
  • 48 Hours
  • Aaah!
  • After WorkApostles of Cinema
  • AliEN0089
  • Anu
  • As Filhas do Fogo
  • Baba
  • Big Bang
  • Blinded by Centuries
  • Blond Night
  • Call Me Mommy
  • Camarera de Piso
  • Cave Painting
  • Chomp It!
  • Cold Water
  • Crushing Season Depersonalization
  • Development
  • Dog Apartment
  • Earthlings
  • Endless Sea
  • F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now
  • Fairplay
  • Fuck Me, Richard
  • Fur
  • Gate Crash
  • Generations of Men
  • Geometry of Faith
  • Grain of Truth
  • Grandma Galya and Grandpa Arkadiy
  • Hafeksai
  • Heat Spell
  • Human Nature
  • I’m On Fire
  • Invincible
  • I Promise You Paradise
  • Jia
  • Junglefowl
  • Katele (Mudskipper)
  • La Perra
  • Laberint Sequences
  • linda 4 eva
  • Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black)
  • Mast-del
  • Meantime
  • Misaligned
  • Nanitic
  • Pentola
  • Selbé – One Among Many
  • Shackle
  • Simo
  • Slow Light
  • Snow In September
  • Strange Way of Life
  • Sweet Juices
  • Take A Look At This Guy
  • The House of Loss
  • Then Comes The Body
  • This Is Not Here
  • The Job
  • The Silent Ones
  • Tomato Kitchen
  • Trailer of the Film That Will Never Exist – ‘Phony Wars’
  • Undercurrents – Meditations on Power
  • Vision of Paradise
  • Walking
  • We Used to Own Houses
  • Where do you stand, Tsai Ming-liang
  • From The Pain Square
  • I Took a Lethal Dose of Herbs
  • In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats
  • Limotopia
  • Lou
  • Stay Alive, My Son (Chapters 1 & 2)
  • Surfacing
  • The Man Who Couldn’t Leave
  • Turbulence – Jamais Vu

Fulldome Showcase

  • -22.7°C
  • Biliminal
  • Recombination
  • Trial

For tickets, visit MIFF