Ten Films (And A Bit) To Watch At Melbourne International Film Festival

MIFF is just around the corner. With 310 films from over 50 countries, there's a whole lot to choose from.

I powered through the Sydney Film Festival. I raced through the Revelation Perth International Film Festival. The French, the Spanish, the Indian, all already under my belt for 2013. Sure, I’m growing a little tired of popcorn and getting a sore bum from time to time, but just think about my expanded outlook on life! The fact that I am slowly gaining the vision of a nocturnal marsupial! My Hoarders-esque collection of ticket stubs!

Thankfully, MIFF is just around the corner to keep up my epic training schedule. The festival runs from July 25 until August 11, and you’ll find more info here.

1. Teenage 

Dir. Matt Wolf

Tuesday July 30, 6:45pm @ Kino Cinema 2; Friday August 2nd, 9pm @ Greater Union Cinema 4; Saturday August 10, 6:30pm @ ACMI 1 — tickets here


If you saw filmmaker Matt Wolf’s beautiful Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell at MIFF/SFF in 2008, you probably know that you needed to book a ticket to this, like,  yesterday. Inspired by Jon Savage’s brilliant book on the rites of adolescence, Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, Wolf has worked closely with Savage over the last couple of years, creating a collaged approach to the history of those under the drinking age, told through the stories of four young’uns. Teenage also features a score by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter — and before you see the film, visit the project’s extensive blog here.

2. Bastards

Dir. Claire Denis 

Saturday August 3, 9pm @ ACMI 2; Tuesday August 6, 9pm @ Forum Theatre — tickets here


Fresh from Cannes where it screened Un Certain Regard (ooh la la), Bastards is the latest from Claire Denis (35 Shots of Rum, White Material). Following the suicide of a wealthy father and husband, his family are left to unravel his long trail of ungainly secrets. Bastards co-stars French fave Lola Créton (Après Mai, Goodbye First Love), and looks like the film most people will foist the word “devastating” upon this year. See also: crushing, staggering and/or brutal.

3. The Punk Singer

Dir. Sini Anderson

Monday July 29, 6:30pm @ ACMI 1; Saturday August 3rd, 6:30pm @ Greater Union Cinema 5 — tickets here

With her archives bestowed upon the Fales Library last year, it was only a matter of time before someone took it upon themselves to chronicle Kathleen Hanna on film. One of the most iconic feminists of the last two and a half decades, Hanna was one of the instigators of riot grrrl: she fronted the legendary Bikini Kill (all hail), made music as Julie Ruin and Le Tigre, and inspired many young teen girls of the ’90s and beyond not to take any shit from macho dudes. Hanna has been largely missing from the spotlight the last couple of years and this documentary explains why, through a series of interviews with her Beastie Boy husband Adam Horowitz, Joan Jett and Kim Gordon, as well as Hanna herself.

4. I Used To Be Darker 

Dir. Matt Porterfield (festival guest)

Friday August 2nd, 9:15pm @ ACMI 2; Sunday August 4, 6:30pm @ Greater Union Cinema 4. — tickets here

I’ll be honest. I saw that there was a film in the program with a name plucked from the lyrics of a gem of a Bill Callahan song, and mentally bought a ticket there and then. Turns out the plot sounds pretty swell too, so, phew! Taryn, a Northern Irish runaway, tries to escape her troubles with a visit to her extended family in Baltimore, who are in the middle of their own emotional messiness. Taryn finds friendship with her cousin Abby as she watches the divorce throes of her musician aunt and uncle (Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham, yes of the Oldham Oldhams), whose folk songs feature in the film.

5. Patrick 

Dir. Mark Hartley (festival guest)

Saturday July 27, 6:30pm @ Greater Union Cinema 6; Friday August 2, 11:30pm @ Greater Union Cinema 3; Friday August 9, 9pm @ Hoyts Cinema 6 — tickets here


Having extolled the virtues of Ozploitation in Not Quite Hollywood, director Mark Hartley has updated one of the genre’s classics from 1978. This time around, Rachel Griffiths, Sharni Vinson, Charles Dance and Damon Gameau star in this psychic hospital horror. Vinson’s the new nurse on duty looking after Patrick, a young shirtless guy, who’s been in a coma for years. For all intents and purposes, he’s dead to the world.


Hartley and cast are guests of the festival, and this is a world premiere.

6. La Pointe Courte

Dir. Agnes Varda

Saturday August 10, 11am @ ACMI 2 — tickets here


Presented in the Masters and Restorations thread, this black and white from ’54 by the now legendary director Agnes Varda (Vagabond, Cleo From 5 to 7) focuses on a married couple coolly drifting apart in their Mediterranean fishing village. Having been overshadowed at the time by her more esteemed (male) French New Wave counterparts (Godard, Truffaut, I’m looking at vous), La Pointe Courte is finally getting some of the love and credit it deserves. Only one chance to see this on the big screen. Don’t miss it.

7. Behind The Camera

Dir E J-yong

Friday July 26, 9:15pm @ Greater Union Cinema 5; Friday August 2, 11am @ Forum Theatre — tickets here


A tongue-in-cheek mockumentary about the Korean film industry. When in the hell else are you going to get to see that?

8. Magic Magic

Dir. Sebastian Silva

Saturday August 3, 6:30pm @ Hoyts Cinema 11; Tuesday August 6, 9pm @ Greater Union Cinema 6 — tickets here

Despite doing her best to ruin the ending of Greenberg with her totally rubbish Australian accent, I’m keen to see Juno Temple strut her stuff as an isolated, anxious California girl in this psychosexual horror set in Chile. The premise sounds like Polanski took some peyote and travelled (I’m talking astral plane here) back in time to his earlier thriller days — but better than that. Magic Magic is directed by Sebastian Silva (he of Old Cats, The Maid) and also stars Michael Cera (looking like a CREEP), Catalina Sandino Moreno and Emily Browning.

9. All of the Shining Violence: Italian Giallo films


All that flashy gore on the big screen; it’s a dream come true, right? Dario Argento’s Deep Red and Tenebrae. Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture A Duckling. Elio Petri’s A Quiet Place In The Country. Pupi Avati’s The House Of Laughing Windows. Flavio Mogherini’s The Pyjama Girl Case. All of them.

10. Excellent documentaries you may have missed at Sydney Film Festival

The Act of Killingdirected by Joshua Oppenheimer, about a group of mass murderers-cum-Indonesian celebrities who eagerly accepted Oppenheimer’s invitation to recreate their kills in a film of their own — tickets and info here

Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, about a killer whale that killed its trainer at Seaworld — tickets and info here

The Crash Reel, directed by Lucy Walker, about the rise and fall of snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce — tickets and info here

Exposed, directed by Beth B, about the alternative burlesque scene — tickets and info here

I Am Divine, directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, about the John Waters-discovered queer icon, Divine — tickets here

The Rocket, directed by Kim Mordaunt, about a poor Laotian child who tried to save his family with the help of a James Brown impersonator — tickets here

The Spirit of ’45directed by Ken Loach, about the spirit of a pivotal year for the left-wing in London, based on archival footage — tickets here

Stories We Telldirected by Sarah Polley, about her family and the nature of truth — tickets here

Kate Jinx is an artist and writer who talks about cinema as host of FBi Radio’s Picture Show and on ABC 702. She gives performance lectures about her obsessions (evil cats, teen witches) and programs Golden Age cinema.