The Melbourne International Film Festival guide was released yesterday and I have had a chance to study it and begin the logistical challenge of working out which films to see and at what time.
At first glance, there are more Australian dramas this year compared to last (a good thing) however they all have only one screening time as opposed to the usual two. This makes being able to see them all somewhat more of a challenge. Perhaps one can console oneself with the likelihood that most will receive a commercial cinematic run later in the year. Certainly some of the directors names will be known to the public : Curtis Levy (previously President versus David Hicks), Alkinos Tsilimidos (Em4Jay), David Caesar (Dirty Deeds), Robert Connolly (The Bank), Ana Kokkinos (Book of Revelation) and "youngest ever sailor solo around the world" Jessie Martin, which will aid their release.
The international drama section is as impressive as it ever was and just as impossible to select a sensible watching program because of its breadth. The Steven Soderbergh / Benicio Del Toro double feature, 260 minute bio-pic on Che Guevara has had good reviews overseas however I can't help but think that DVD release is a preferred way to view. A number of films that screened at Cannes (but none of the winners so far as I can see) and a $50 special event to be in the same 1000 seat stadium with Quentin Tarantino as he waves at the crowd for the Australian premiere of Inglourious Basterds. This film I definitely want to see but as its cinematic release is straight after the festival, I won't "waste" a MIFF selection on it.
A section on the quietly emerging Balkan Cinema looks an intriguing mix of black comedy and irony of life under communism from countries such as Romania, Bosnia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Serbia.
The Asian film section presents an enticing range with a first from North Korea and one-third from powerhouse South Korea, including personal fave Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance).
There are many, many other fine films on at the Festival and as always, too many to see and not enough time to see them all. My Festival pass entitles me to 13 screenings only so I will make my selections carefully and post them next week.