It’s that time of the year again when cinema lovers of Melbourne brave the arctic weather for a nice big glass of red wine and some truly excellent cinema. Celebrating a monumental 70th program this year overflowing with showcases, buzz-worthy international features and special anniversary events. Running continuously since 1952, MIFF is the leading film festival in Australia and one of the world’s oldest film festivals, alongside Cannes and Berlin. Whatever your tastes, there will be a film for you. Over 18 days (4–21 August), the 2022 in-cinema program will unfold across familiar metro sites. MIFF Play, the festival’s online streaming platform, will host 105 features and shorts, enabling audiences to join the party at home and across Australia over 11–28 August.
Not sure what to watch? Here’s The Plus One’s Guide to MIFF’s 70th Anniversary screenings.
Opening Night Gala – Of an Age
Celebrate the opening night of the 70th Melbourne International Film Festival with the world premiere of Goran Stolevski’s Of an Age, a heart-meltingly tender, quintessentially Melbourne queer coming-of-age tale that will make you swoon from beginning to end. Join the film’s director and cast plus other special guests of the festival on the red carpet, then enjoy drinks, canapés and dancing at the afterparty.
It’s the summer of 1999 and two teens fresh out of high school – reserved, Serbian-born Nikola (Elias Anton, Barracuda) and fiery Ebony (Hattie Hook) – are partners for a dance competition. On the big day, Nikola gets a distressed call from Ebony, asking to be rescued from the other side of town, so he enlists her brother, the charming Adam (Thom Green, Dance Academy; Downriver, MIFF Premiere Fund 2015), to take him there. On the drive, amid traffic and amicable swagger, the two young men discover a mutual spark … but Adam is leaving the country in 24 hours.
Decision to Leave
Park Chan-wook took home Cannes’ Best Director award for Decision to Leave, an enchanting, exquisitely seductive neo-noir romance – his first film since The Handmaiden (MIFF 2016).
After lamenting the lack of interesting cases in Busan, scrupulous detective Hae-joon is enlisted to investigate the death of a man whose body is found at the bottom of a cliff. The prime suspect is the man’s beautiful Chinese wife, Seo-rae, who is suspiciously unmoved by the events that have left her widowed. But Hae-joon’s interest in the woman quickly transcends the professional, and she appears to reciprocate his nascent desire. Things are about to get complicated.
Neptune Frost is a wildly ambitious, radically experimental Afrofuturist musical that transcends space, time and gender from visionary poet and musician Saul Williams. Ten years in the making, this dazzlingly original, genre-defying debut from Williams and actor and playwright Anisia Uzeyman builds on the musician’s lyrical world-building and exploration of Black resistance while following in the Afrofuturist tradition of Sun Ra’s Space Is the Place and Ngozi Onwurah’s Welcome II the Terrordome.
In a past, present and future Rwanda that unfolds like a dream, a young coltan miner encounters Neptune Frost, an intersex hacker who leads us down a trans-dimensional rabbit hole of post-colonial possible realities. A major hit at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight (where it was nominated for the Queer Palm) and across the global festival circuit, this avant-garde cyber-musical confronts ever-changing technology, racial capitalism, human labour and the slippery strictures of gender. Neptune Frost is like nothing you’ve seen before: an unapologetically Black and queer astral trip that forges a new cinematic language for revolution.
Fire of Love
Fire of Love is unsurprisingly a love story about two intrepid scientists who adore volcanoes as much as each other gift the world with something extraordinary.
It could be a scene from an apocalyptic sci-fi: a silver-suited figure dwarfed by a wall of lava spewing up from a scorched, moon-like landscape. But this is documentary footage – stunning, mind-boggling footage captured by French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft (whom some may recall from their cameo in Werner Herzog’s Into the Inferno). Famed across France in the 70s and 80s for their passion for filming volcanoes up close, the molten-storm-chasing couple contributed significantly to our understanding of the geological phenomena, building a legacy that weaves together science and the cinema.
Director Sara Dosa (The Seer and the Unseen, MIFF 2019) mines the Kraffts’ copious archive of extraordinary 16mm clips – much of them previously unseen – and collates them into a tender, wryly humorous film that’s part-romance, part-PSA on the dangers of ignoring scientific warnings. The result is a big-screen devotee’s dream, which is only enhanced by Miranda July’s lyrical narration and the score by Air’s Nicolas Godin. But while Dosa and her Sundance award-winning editors have constructed a compelling text from this treasure trove, ultimately it is the Kraffts themselves who drive the story with their boundless curiosity, bravery and verve.