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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Melbourne International Film Festival 2021

For the second year in a row, Melbourne's long-running annual film festival is streaming a digital-only program into homes around Australia.
By Sarah Ward
August 02, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
August 02, 2021
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As cinephiles of Melbourne well and truly know, August always marks the arrival of the Melbourne International Film Festival. That even remained the case in 2020, when the event was forced to go digital due to the pandemic. And, although the 2021 fest has had to go through a few changes itself and will now only play online, too, it is still showering film buffs with movies from Thursday, August 5–Sunday, August 22 this year.

Initially, in-person sessions were set to span the festival's first week or so, before the event closed up online; however, just days before this year's MIFF kicked off on Thursday, August 5, the fest flipped that order and expanded its virtual component. It was due to then add in-person sessions from Thursday, August 12, but that'll no longer be happening.

So, via its digital platform MIFF Play, the festival is screening more than 90 features for film lovers to watch from the comfort of their couches. The lineup has been growing, too, with exisiting highlights including college-set rom-com Freshman Year, Spanish influencer satire La Verónica, New Zealand thriller Coming Home in the Dark and Norwegian comedy Ninjababy. The Mads Mikkelsen-starring Riders of Justice and psycho-thriller music mockumentary The Nowhere Inn — featuring Carrie Brownstein and St Vincent — sit among the recent newcomers.

More films are set to become available on Saturday, August 14 as well, such as documentary Hopper/Welles, which sees Dennis Hopper and Orson Welles meet and chat back in 1970; Night of the Kings, a prison thriller set on the outskirts of Abidjan; and Stray, a doco about the 100,000-plus stray dogs that rove freely around Istanbul. And, other titles will drop later in the fest, like Australian drama Little Tornadoes, which is co-written by The Slap's Christos Tsiolkas; Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, a documentary exploring the folk horror genre; and closing night's Language Lessons, which takes place via video calls.

MIFF's digital platform is available Australia-wide, ensuring that cinephiles around the country — including those in lockdown elsewhere, like in Greater Sydney — can enjoy its lineup, too. That facet of the online program proved popular last year, unsurprisingly, with 2020's virtual festival resulting in MIFF's biggest fest yet, audience-wise.

Updated August 11.

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