So here is the drill - on Wednesdays at 8pm during March 2011, there will be four free screenings on the 'Big Screen' at Federation Square. The screenings are composed of some of the 2010Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) favourites and this event is a great lead-up to the upcoming MIFF 2011, which will be celebrating 60 years this July/August!
So what exactly is screening? On March 9, the black comedy Four Lions is scheduled. Directed by Christopher Morris (aka Denholm Reynholm of the IT Crowd) and starring Will Adamsdale, Riz Ahmed and Adeel Akhtar, the acclaimed feature was described by Eli Glasner of CBCNEWS as "try to imagine The Three Stooges as suicide bombers. That's the volatile concept behind the prickly new British farce Four Lions. "
The following week, on March 16, the brilliant Boy, directed by Taika Waititi and starring Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu, Ei Kura Albert and Maakariini Butler will screen. This popular title which was a box-office hit in New Zealand, was described by James Greenberg of the Hollywood Reporter as "a cross between The 400 Blows and Slumdog Millionaire (though not quite in their class)."
Waititi previously directed Eagle vs Shark in 2007, which received mixed reviews but he seems to have captured the audiences imaginations, particularly in New Zealand, which this coming of age tale, which is based on his own childhood. Boy is currently the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time!
On March 23, there is a change of pace with the screening of the acclaimed drama Women Without Men, directed by Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari and starring Shabnam Toloui, Pegah Ferydoni and Arita Shahrzad. Ernest Hardy of the Village Voice, noted the film featured "stellar acting from the ensemble and gorgeously composed and shot images."
This is the first feature film from Neshat, a renowned visual artist. The film is based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Iranian author Sharnush Parsipur.
The final screening of this month-long event which takes place on March 30, is Summer Wars, a Japanese animated science fiction feature, directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who had great success the 2006 feature The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. This latest feature from Hosoda has received stellar reviews in Japan and in the USA - Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle, proclaimed, "It's easy to see why Summer Wars was such a huge hit when it premiered in Japan last year. It's ... [a] fun and quirky film."
The family feature has won many awards including a Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year in 2010. Like the classic works of Hayao Miyazaki which are regularly released outside of Japan, Hosoda's films are also quickly gaining popularity with Western audiences - which led Todd Brown of Twitch Film to defiantly proclaim "Hosoda is the new king, the best storyteller working within the animated medium in Japan and - quite possibly - the world."