The Melbourne International Film Festival today announced the full program for its 2018 edition, and it’s massive.
Chock-full of tantalising selections, this year’s program continues MIFF’s streak of bringing adventurous, boundary-pushing cinema to the fore alongside festival favourites, including some of the best of this year’s Sydney Film Festival in The Rider, Leave No Trace, and Transit, as well as local flavour.
Fabulously reviewed at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Diamantino went on the win the top prize of the festival’s Critics’ Week sidebar. Directed by Portuguese experimentalists Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, this satire of celebrity culture told through a disgraced soccer star (played by the very pretty Carloto Cotta) mutates into everything from a queer sci-fi thriller to a political comedy, with giant puppies, lesbian double agents, and genetic experiments abound.
After BPM‘s rhythmic, elemental beauty, another French film covers the AIDS crisis in Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel. This lower-key romance follows the burgeoning relationship between Jacques and the much younger Arthur, as their lives intersect on very different trajectories. Their differing ideas about love are put to the test as Jacques, living with AIDS but increasingly unwell, and Arthur navigate the difficult of their newfound relationship.
The Coming Back Out Ball
This new Australian documentary world premieres as MIFF’s closing night film this year. Filmed around last year’s Coming Back Out Ball, the film tells the stories of some of Australia’s original LGBTI trailblazers in a powerful celebration of our community’s pioneering openness.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
A highlight at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a quieter film than you might expect. A comedic drama centred on a teenage girl’s experience at a conversion therapy camp, Desiree Akhavan’s film deftly sidesteps the easy melodrama inherent in a story like this. While it inevitably goes to dark places, it still does so with a lightness that feels true to the queer experience, capturing our ability to laugh through even the toughest passages of our lives.
The Cinema x Fashion Strand
The full Cinema x Fashion strand will have appeal to LGBTI festival-goers, particularly the opportunity to see queer classic Paris is Burning restored and on the big screen, with an audience to snap through all the best parts. There are so many classics here: Judy Garland in Funny Face, Marlene Dietrich’s bisexual swagger in Morocco, Joan Crawford in The Women, Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant and, of course, Diana Ross in the camp masterwork Mahogany.
This Kenyan love story between two women was infamously banned in its home country following its debut at Cannes, where it premiered to a polite reception. But it was well-liked at this year’s Sydney Film Festival and is worth a look for its portrayal of forbidden love in a very different society to our own.
Another well-liked film from SFF, Hard Paint is a plaintive and erotically charged look into the life of a gay webcammer who performances find him covering himself in neon paint. He discovers another performer is copying his act, sending him offline and out of isolation, back out into a world he doesn’t feel comfortable in.
Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters
Restored to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras, this doco is a rare filmed document of the Australian LGBTI rights movement which shows how far we’ve come and far there is still left to go. Having sold out at this year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival, this is a hot ticket and a must-see for anyone interested in Australia’s rainbow history.
Knife + Heart
Having baffled critics at Cannes this year, this is certain to be one of the more memorable queer cinema picks at MIFF. Starring Vanessa Paradis as a gay porn producer mourning the end of her relationship with her girlfriend, the film dives into Italian giallo as the performers on her set start getting murdered one by one. This will surely be one to remember.
We the Animals
This writer stupidly went to the wrong cinema when he was meant to see this at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, but those who did see it fell head over heels for its poetic approach to the gay coming-of-age story, as a young boy in a Latin-American family comes to terms with himself. Described by many as this year’s Moonlight, this dreamy film tackles family and identity in a way that is sure to leave an impression.
A Kid Like Jake
There are all too few prominent trans directors, but one who is blazing a trail is Silas Howard, whose film A Kid Like Jake takes a look at a couple – played by Claire Danes and Jim Parsons – whose 4-year-old is indicating they may be trans or gender non-conforming. They have different perspectives on how to approach Jake’s needs which causes them to clash, drawing praise for the film’s performances.
Naturally, there are innumerable highlights in this year’s MIFF program beyond just the queer picks – so make sure to check out the full line-up at miff.com.au. Tickets are on sale Friday 13 July.