Melbourne International Film Festival First Glance: Downriver and Holding the Man to premiere

The Melbourne International Film Festival revealed a sneak peak of its 2015 program today and it’s got the Cinema Australia team very excited.

Some highlights of the program include Grant Scicluna’s Downriver, Neil Armfield’s highly anticipated Holding the Man, and short film The Nice House, following  2015 Australian of the Year and domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty.

The full program will be revealed on July 7 but you can find a sneak peak of Australian film highlights below. You can find out more information about each screening and event at


Force of Destiny Cinema Australia Melbourne International Film Festival

Force of Destiny
Revered Australian auteur and MIFF regular Paul Cox (Human Touch, MIFF 2004; Innocence, MIFF 2000) had a second chance at life when he received a liver transplant on Christmas Day 2009. This experience profoundly affected him and Force of Destiny, the first film in this new phase of his life, is in many ways an outpouring of his renewed love for humanity.
Highly autobiographical, Force of Destiny is a moving love story with a sumptuous aesthetic. David Wenham (working with Cox again for the first time since Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, MIFF 2000) stars as Robert, a renowned sculptor who is diagnosed with cancer of the liver. While reeling from this news he meets Maya, an Indian marine biologist who comes from a different world, a different reality. Robert’s nightmares and passion for Maya intensify as he confronts the agony and ecstasy of finding a love that has evaded him his entire life just as his body is about to be taken from him. New hope comes when he’s placed on the transplant waiting list.
Filmed in Melbourne and India, Force of Destiny is another screen gem from this beloved director, invested with the poignancy of an almost-true story.

Holding the Man Cinema Australia

Holding the Man
Timothy Conigrave’s beloved, bestselling memoir became an award-winning stage play; now, at last, it’s been adapted for the big screen.
Published in 1995, Holding the Man – winner of the United Nations Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction – is one of Australia’s favourite books. A tender, celebratory and refreshingly honest memoir about the author’s long-term love for John Caleo, his Melbourne high school’s football captain, it charts their 15-year romance through passion, discrimination, illness and tragedy.
Directed by Neil Armfield (Candy) and produced by Kylie du Fresne (The Sapphires, MIFF 2012), this much-anticipated adaptation stars a brilliant Ryan Corr as Conigrave and an equally memorable Craig Stott as John, with Sarah Snook (Predestination, MIFF 2014), Guy Pearce (Jack Irish: Bad Debts, MIFF 2012), Anthony LaPaglia (Mental, MIFF 2012) and Kerry Fox (Downriver, MIFF 2015) in support. Adapted for the screen by Tommy Murphy, whose stage version wowed audiences from Sydney to London, it is every bit as moving, witty and inspirational as its source material.


David Gulpilil – Retrospective and in Conversation
Yolngu dancer, musician and performer David Gulpilil, AM, is one of Australia’s most acclaimed Indigenous actors. In 2015, he will join us at MIFF for this celebratory retrospective program.
Commemorating the world premiere of Another Country – the final film in the Country suite of films begun with Still Our Country – Reflections on a Culture (MIFF 2014) and Charlie’s Country – the 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival will proudly present a special program of Gulpilil’s films.
In addition to screening many of Gulpilil’s most iconic movies, alongside some of his less well-known, little-seen gems, the festival will welcome David himself for a special in-conversation event with Margaret Pomeranz on Saturday 1 August, at 4.30pm in the Festival Lounge, co-presented in partnership with The Wheeler Centre.
Tickets for this event will go on sale through MIFF and The Wheeler Centre on Friday 5 June. All details of the films will be available in the full program when it is released on Friday 10 July.


Another Country Cinema Australia Melbourne International Film Festival

Another Country – World Premiere
Australian legend David Gulpilil tells the story of when his people’s way of life was derailed by ours.
Molly Reynolds’ Another Country is the stunning culmination of the critically acclaimed Country suite (featuring her Still Our Country – Reflections on a Culture, MIFF 2014; and Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country). Narrated and guided by Gulpilil himself, Another Country is an attempt to make sense of the contradictions of the modern Indigenous experience – a sobering, searing though often humorous account of a people forced to change too fast and too far, and then left to fade by those who had wrought that change.
Exploring the physical, social and spiritual landscapes of David Gulpilil’s own community of Ramingining, Reynolds’ film offers an all-too-rare first-hand account of the fundamental clash between the Indigenous way of life and the lifestyle demanded of them by Government policy. To Gulpilil it is our refusal to acknowledge this incompatibility that breeds such disconnection and destruction – a racial catastrophe that is unfolding because we cannot talk about race.

Gayby Baby Cinema Australia Melbourne International Film Festival

Gayby Baby
Meet Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham, 10- to 12-year-olds each coping with growing up. As they navigate challenges of school, sport, friends and their futures, they do so within loving homes and with caring parents – who happen to be gay or lesbian.
It’s a situation still debated over and legislated against, as director Maya Newell knows from experience. Inspired by her own upbringing in a same-sex household with two mums, she crafts an intimate portrait of childhood, showing the complexity that colours these four families far beyond the issue of sexual orientation.
Gayby Baby provides a platform to those too often ignored: the kids themselves. As marriage equality continues to inspire discussion around the world, Newell’s documentary looks at the reality – not the rhetoric – of same-sex parenting.

Sherpa Cinema Australia Melbourne International Film Festival

Chomalungma, or Everest, is experienced anew in this awe-inspiring documentary presenting the extraordinary pressures and politics of climbing the mountain from the Sherpa point of view.
In April 2014, 16 Sherpas died in an avalanche while escorting a group of mountaineers up Everest. It was merely the latest in a series of escalating incidents – from financial disputes to brawls at 7000m and out-and-out assaults – that have cast a light on the sometimes uneasy alliance between the wealthy foreigners who choose to climb Everest and the Sherpas who are the only way they’ll ever get there.
In Sherpa, acclaimed Australian documentarian Jennifer Peedom tracks an expedition up the mountain from the point of view of the Sherpas themselves. With high-altitude cameraman/director Renan Ozturk, Peedom follows Phurba, a veteran seeking to break the Everest summit record, and Yangjee, a young gun looking to make her first climb. Featuring breathtaking big-screen footage – including shots never before seen by Westerners – theirs is an emotional, eye-opening story.

MIFF Premiere Fund

Downriver Cinema Australia Melbourne International Film Festival

The Melbourne International Film Festival, with the support of the Government of Victoria, established The MIFF Premiere Fund as an ongoing minority co-financier for new Australian theatrical films and feature-length documentaries. The MIFF Premiere Fund aims to support quality feature-length projects that will have their international premiere at MIFF.

In 2015, we welcome Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein’s documentary Ecco Homo, about Melbourne artist, rocker, activist and actor Peter “Troy” Davies; award-winning MIFF Accelerator alumnus Grant Scicluna’s feature debut Downriver; Sue Brooks’ Looking for Grace, starring Radha Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh; Lawrence Johnston’s celebration of the beauty, romance, art and science of Neon; former Cannes Caméra d’Or winner Michael Rowe’s Early Winter; and Nicole Ma’s emotional Putuparri and the Rainmakers, a story of love, hope and the survival of Aboriginal culture against all odds.

The Nice House Cinema Australia Melbourne International Film Festival

Short but sweet, and also heartbreaking, complicated, profound and funny, this year’s short films include Ray’s Big Idea, the new adventure from Aardman Animations; Ernie Biscuit, the latest from Academy Award-winner (for Harvie Krumpet, MIFF 2003) Adam Elliot; and Claire Denis’ (Bastards, MIFF 2013) new film, exploring race, love and cultural identity, Voilà l’enchaînement.

We also hear from 2015 Australian of the Year and domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty in The Nice House, and from people seeking asylum in Australia in Nowhere Line: Voices from Manus Island. Meanwhile, the Cannes Cinéfondation-selected Under the Sun reveals deeper issues facing modern China.

Information sourced from WE LOVE MIFF!

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