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Melbourne International Film Festival

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by Chris Shepherdson (subscribe)
I'm a copywriter and freelance writer living in Melbourne. My novel, Another New York Murder, is available online.
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Something old, Something new, something eclectic, all 4 you
The Melbourne International Film Festival, or MIFF as it has become affectionately known, is almost upon us again. Opening on July 25 with Pedro Almodovar's latest, I'm So Excited, through to the closing night gala of All Is Lost from Margin Call director JC Chandor and starring Robert Redford, MIFF offers an eclectic selection bound to satisfy the most ardent cineaste. Some of these films will earn a wide release but many won't so don't miss a chance to see offerings from old masters and new voices alike. It may be the only time some of these stories have a chance to shine on a big screen.

One of the highlights of this year's festival is a presentation of the 1959 apocalyptic classic On the Beach. For those of you who want to know what Melbourne was like in the 1950s, On The Beach, based on the novel from Anglo Australian novelist Nevil Chute (A Town Like Alice), and starring Hollywood legends Gregory Peck, Ava Gardiner, Fred Astaire (in his first dramatic role) and Anthony Perkins, was filmed in Melbourne at many iconic locations.

There's also a documentary, Fallout, about the making of the film and its legacy as well as a free event with Fallout director Lawrence Johnson.

On the Beach, miff
Gregory Peck and Ava Gardiner between shots from On the Beach


Other documentaries include Becoming Traviata, a behind the scenes look at the staging of the classic opera, Blackfish, a study of a killer whale that killed one its trainers at Sea World, Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, a celebration of the great American novelist, essayist and raconteur, and Continental, a look at the legendary centre of Manhattan gay life in the 70s, The Continental Baths. Other films cover topics as diverse as international aid agencies, a commercial fishing vessel, and legendary department store Bergdorf Goodman.

Fans of horror films will delight in some fine examples of the Italian slash and pash way of horror. Once seen, never forgotten, two films from the legendary Dario Argento, Deep Red and Tenebrae, have become cult classics and huge influences on many of today's goremeisters including Melbourne's own James Wan. Other selections include The Pyjama Girl Murder, based on a bizarre real life Australian murder as well as the deliciously titled Don't Torture a Duckling.

Deep red, miff
What to expect from Dario Aregnto's Deep Red


Among the premiere films on show is the latest from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) whose Mood Indigo is a stunning looking science fiction romantic comedy starring Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris based on the cult novel Froth on the Daydream.

Mood INdigo film, Michel Gondry, Miff
Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo


Giuseppe Tornatore, whose sublime Cinema Paradiso won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is a guest of the festival and brings his latest, The Best Offer, starring MIFF patron Geoffrey Rush, alongside Jim Sturgess and everybody's famous wise old charlatan, Donald Sutherland. Tornatore will also appear in a separate Q & A session with David Stratton.

Brian De Palma (Carrie, The Untouchables, Scarface) has been a consistently interesting filmmaker in a career spanning 45 years and has suffered in comparison to his contemporaries and friends in Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. He has been hailed by legendary film critic Pauline Kael and idolised by Quentin Tarantino, who considers Blow Out one of his favourite films.

De Palma's latest film, Passion, will delight his fans with its blatant cinematic show-off-ery, and its central duel between stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as a couple of immoral corporate ladder climbers.

Among the festival's other highlights are a series of sports documentaries, including profiles of the Williams sisters and Jackie Stewart, a special look at activism on film, including a look at the Occupy Wall Street movement, and a spotlight on Arabic and North Korean cinema, rarely seen before in the west.

This is only a small sample of what's on offer, so to see the whole program, book tickets and learn anything else about the Melbourne International Film Festival, go to www.miff.com.au.

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Why? A showcase of old, new and emerging cinema
When: July 25 - August 11 2012
Phone: Box office 03 9662 3722
Where: Various venues around Melbourne CBD
Cost: See website for membership, multiple session discounts and other prices
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