Celebrating its 67th year, The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has today unveiled its 2018 program. Featuring 254 feature films, 120 shorts and 19 virtual reality experiences, the festival will include 27world premieres and 168 Australian premieres over 18 action-packed days of cinema.
Here’s your complete list of Australian feature films screening at MIFF.
For the full program visit http://www.miff.com.au
Directed by Stephen McCallum
Written by Matt Nable
Starring Matt Nable, Ryan Corr, Eddie Baroo, Simone Kessell, Abbey Lee, Josh McConville, Jacqui Williams and Aaron Pedersen
An international hit from Toronto to Fantastic Fest to London, Australia’s answer to Sons of Anarchy sends Ryan Corr, Abbey Lee and Aaron Pedersen into a brutal bikie turf war.
For three years, Paddo has led the charge at the Copperheads Motorcycle Club while gang president Knuck serves time. He’s on the cusp of taking the crew in a new direction, but his just-released leader isn’t keen on change. Then Paddo’s brother begins stirring up trouble with a rival club head, jeopardising everyone’s future.
Making his feature debut with a blistering underworld tale, director Stephen McCallum serves up a gritty exploration of brotherhood and betrayal that takes its cues from Shakespeare. Scripted by and co-starring Matt Nable, it’s as vibrant as it is violent, offering a powerhouse showcase of local talent complete with a film-stealing turn by rising star Lee.
Directed by Thomas M. Wright
Written by Erik Jensen and Thomas M. Wright
Starring Daniel Henshall, Toby Wallace, Gillian Jones, Geneviève Lemon and Max Cullen
Daniel Henshall stars as infamous Archibald Prize-winning artist Adam Cullen in this lyrical adaptation of Erik Jensen’s acclaimed biography.
When 19-year-old wunderkind journalist Erik Jensen (now editor of The Saturday Paper) was invited by bad-boy Australian painter Adam Cullen to write his biography, Jensen (Toby Wallace, Romper Stomper) jumped at the chance. Despite a turbulent relationship, the two formed a unique bond that lasted until Cullen’s death in 2012 aged just 46.
Shooting in the Blue Mountains where Cullen was based, Acute Misfortune spins Jensen’s award-winning book into a subtle, striking tale of two wildly different men. Making his debut as a feature film filmmaker, theatre director and actor Thomas M Wright (Top of the Lake; Balibo, MIFF 2017) delivers a portrait of the writer and of the artist as a troubled and troubling man. With remarkable access – Henshall (Fell, MIFF 2014; The Babadook, Snowtown) wears Cullen’s actual clothing as he fully inhabits the role, and the artworks that appear onscreen are the real deal – this MIFF Premiere Fund-supported feature was co-scripted by Jensen, with Wright, and is executive produced by Robert Connolly (Paper Planes, MIFF 2014; Tim Winton’s The Turning, MIFF 2013; These Final Hours, MIFF 2013).
Directed by Heath Davis
Written by Heath Davis
Starring Alan Dukes, Susan Prior, Rose Riley, Airlie Dodds, Steve Bastoni, Pippa Grandison and Steve LeMarquand
Filmed in the Blue Mountains, Book Week is a shaggy dark comedy about a disgraced novelist turned English teacher trying to find redemption.
For generations, dressing up for Book Week has been an Aussie school tradition. But for high-school English teacher Nicholas Cutler (Alan Dukes), it’s the week from hell. Once a literary enfant terrible, and now simply a terrible man, he’s now struggling to instil a love of reading in teenagers who’d rather toy with their phones and dress up as movie superheroes. Trying to roll with these bad new times, Nicholas has penned a trashy zombie story. He’s tantalisingly close to a literary comeback – but it’ll be at the expense of his students, colleagues and long-suffering family. Will this be the week Mr Cutler finally has people’s backs, not paperbacks?
Writer/director Heath Davis based this film on his own experiences as a teacher. Shot in Katoomba and featuring Western Sydney locals as extras, Book Week offers a wry new comedy with a genial fondness for community – the kind you don’t always find in books.
Directed by Ben Hackworth
Written by Bille Brown and Ben Hackworth
Starring Radha Mitchell, Thomas Cocquerel, Nadine Garner, Odessa Young and Emm Wiseman
Radha Mitchell gives a stunning performance in this intoxicating tale of love, betrayal and Schubert set in the remote rainforests of far north Queensland and chosen as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s Atelier incubator for outstanding new talent.
Once upon a time, Celeste was Australia’s most beloved opera singer. Yet she threw it all away to follow the man she loved to a crumbling property deep in the rainforests of far north Queensland. Now, ten years after his tragic death, Celeste is ready to make one final return to the stage. But when she asks her estranged stepson Jack for an impossible favour, the secrets that drove them apart will explode back into rhapsodic life.
From acclaimed filmmaker Ben Hackworth (Corroboree, MIFF 07) comes Celeste, a literally operatic character study of loss and power and the things that tear us apart. A sumptuously shot psychological thriller set against the backdrop of one of Australia’s most pristine, rarely seen landscapes, Celeste is a riveting statement of intent from one of Australia’s boldest cinematic voices.
Directed by Benjamin Gilmour
Written by Benjamin Gilmour
Starring Sam Smith, Amir Shah Talash and Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad
From director Benjamin Gilmour and actor Sam Smith comes an important and almost unbelievable new Australian film, shot in the dangerous borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Retired Australian soldier Mike (Smith) is haunted by memories of the unarmed man he accidentally shot during his time in Afghanistan. Determined to make things right, he sets off on a treacherous journey through Taliban and ISIS-controlled territory to find the victim’s family and place himself at the mercy of the Jirga – Afghanistan’s tradition of village justice.
A film whose uncomfortably raw subject matter is matched by the extremity in which it was created, Jirga is a profound and remarkable new work from writer/director Benjamin Gilmour (Son of a Lion, MIFF 2008). The result of months spent trekking through Pakistan and Afghanistan by Gilmour and Smith, Jirga is literally dangerous filmmaking in action, a courageous effort to cut through the propaganda and stereotypes and reveal the human tragedy behind our involvement in the War on Terror.
Directed by Mark Grentell
Written by Damian Callinan
Starring Damian Callinan, Kate Mulvany, John Howard, Fayssal Bazzi, Josh McConville and Nick Cody
An offbeat and uproarious Aussie comedy about footy, life in the country and the power of communities to overcome small-mindedness.
Once upon a time, Troy Carrington (Damian Callinan) was an Aussie Rules legend. But that was twenty years ago, before his accident and before his grassroots activism made him less than popular with many of the locals. Now living almost a reclusive life in Bodgy Creek, the small country town he grew up in, he never wants to think about footy again. But when Angie (Kate Mulvany) approaches him to save their beloved Bodgy Creek Roosters, Troy knows he needs to step up. Ageing and undermanned, the Roosters need a miracle and Troy realises he has just the thing – the town’s recently arrived refugees.
Based on comedy legend Damian Callinan’s acclaimed stage show of the same name, and also starring Josh McConville (The Infinite Man, MIFF 2014; ABC TV’s Cleverman), Fayssal Bazzi (Down Under, MIFF 2016) and John Howard (Packed to the Rafters, All Saints, Seachange), The Merger is a boisterous new Australian comedy. A feel-good film with a plenty of big laughs, The Merger cements writer Callinan and director Mark Grentell as the heirs apparent to Australia’s brilliant tradition of underdog comed
Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds
Directed by Alex Proyas
Written by Alex Proyas
Starring Michael Lake, Melissa Davis, Norman Boyd and Rhys Davis
From the visually audacious imagination of Alex Proyas comes his rarely screened debut feature that is part Luis Buñuel and part Sergio Leone meets Mad Max.
In a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, siblings Felix and Betty live on a diet of baked beans. Felix’s impulsiveness and obsession with flying means he is now in a wheelchair while Betty is adamant that a demon is to blame for their woes. Into their world walks Norm, shattering their family bond.
This distinctly one-of-a-kind film was the feature debut of Alex Proyas, the Australian director who went on to make The Crow and Dark City (MIFF 2017). Featuring AFI Award-nominated visuals and an ARIA-nominated musical score, this is a very Australian vision of the world gone truly upside down. Full of madcap inventions and colourful flights of fancy that are now enhanced by its digital restoration, this is a chance to discover one of the hidden gems of the 1980s.
Directed by Alena Lodkina
Written by Alena Lodkina and Isaac Wall
Starring Kate Cheel, Justin Courtin and Daniel P. Jones
A story of family and estrangement set amid the alien landscape of Australia’s opal mines.
Melina is making the 18-hour bus journey to be with her estranged, ailing father. He’s one of the lost, lonely men who hunt for black opals, deep in the Australian outback. She’s not entirely sure why she’s there, or why she stays, but as Melina is drawn ever further into the community, she discovers that there’s more to these men than she first assumed – and perhaps even more to herself.
A compelling and unique drama, where most of the characters are played by actual opal miners, Strange Colours is the assured, visually gorgeous feature debut from writer/director Alena Lodkina (who explored similar ground in her MIFF 2017 short documentary Lightning Ridge: The Land of Black Opals, which party inspired this film). Developed through the Venice Film Festival’s Biennale College, Lodkina has made an effortless transition to feature filmmaking, producing a hypnotic dusky reverie, filled with quiet grace and power, that revels in the unique landscape of the Australian outback.
Under the Cover of Cloud
Directed by Ted Wilson
Written by Ted Wilson
Starring David Boon, Louis Modeste-Leroy, Colleen Wilson, Jessie Wilson and Ted Wilson
First-time Australian feature filmmaker Ted Wilson delivers the engrossing, delicately poised Under the Cover of Cloud, a feel-good film of family, cricket and one man’s hunt for David Boon.
Ted Wilson (Ted Wilson) is an embittered journalist, returning home to Hobart after losing his Melbourne magazine job and forced to return home to Hobart. With nothing to do except think about his next move, he lands on the idea of writing a book about Tasmanian upper-order batsmen, and in particular the great man himself: David Boon. But soon Ted’s discovering there’s a lot more to his homeland than he once thought, and that everything he’s been searching for could be closer than he imagined.
MIFF Accelerator alumnus Ted Wilson turns in a warm and winning feature film debut with Under the Cover of Cloud. A deliberately lo-fi, improvisatory riff on family and home (that primarily stars Wilson’s immediate family), it’s a film of gentle pleasures and unexpected humour that stamps Wilson as one of Australia’s great emerging talents.
Directed by Miranda Nation
Written by Miranda Nation
Starring Olivia DeJonge, Josh Helman, Laura Gordon, Rob Collins, Chris Gonsalves and Chris Gibson
MIFF Accelerator Lab alumna Miranda Nation makes her feature directorial debut with this Geelong-shot psychological thriller about grief and obsession set against the backdrop of local footy culture.
Struggling to cope after losing her unborn child, photo-journalist Claire (Laura Gordon, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, MIFF 2016) becomes increasingly obsessed with Angie (Olivia DeJonge), a pregnant young woman Claire suspects of having an affair with her husband, AFL player and mentor Dan (Rob Collins, Cleverman; Glitch, MIFF 2017). It’s an obsession that could put both women in danger, but the deeper Claire digs, the more unsettling her discoveries become.
Supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund and also starring Josh Helman (Mad Max: Fury Road; X-Men: Apocalypse), Undertowis a bold and exciting leap into feature-length filmmaking for Nation, whose award-winning shorts Eli the Invincible and Perception have previously screened at MIFF (2011 and 2013, respectively). With evocative Surf Coast cinematography by Bonnie Elliot (These Final Hours, MIFF Premiere Fund 2013) and a starkly topical underbelly, it’s bound to have audiences talking long after the final credits roll.
West of Sunshine
Directed by Jason Raftopoulos
Written by Jason Raftopoulos
Starring Damian Hill, Ty Perham, Arthur Angel, Kat Stewart and Tony Nikolakopoulos
Pawno’s Damian Hill stars in this Venice-premiering exploration of fatherhood, trauma and second chances, shot in Melbourne’s inner southeast by first-time local filmmaker Jason Raftopoulos.
Friday is no ordinary day for courier Jim (Hill, MIFF 2015’s Pawno). His loan shark wants $15,000 by close of business; his boss wants him to stick to his normal deliveries; and, being school holidays, he’s supposed to be looking after his adolescent son (Hill’s real-life stepson Tyler Perham). From dawn until dusk, Jim endeavours to juggle all three – come up with cash he doesn’t have, keep his job and entertain the boy he doesn’t spend enough time with – all while trying to avoid further trouble.
Adapting Raftopoulos’ short film Father’s Day to feature length, West of Sunshine wears its Italian neo-realist inspirations on its sleeves as it follows a desperate dad doing his best in difficult circumstances. Shot with clear-eyed affection, it’s a warm-hearted look at life’s ups and downs that benefits from the intimate rapport between its two stars, with Kat Stewart (Sucker, MIFF 2015) also among the cast.