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Melbourne International Film Festival 2023 Will Open with Aussie Sundance Audience Award-Winner 'Shayda'

Also on the lineup: world-premiere documentary 'Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story', MIFF's first-ever gala screening from its Music on Film program.
By Sarah Ward
May 23, 2023
By Sarah Ward
May 23, 2023

What will open with the Australian premiere of one of this year's Sundance hits — an Aussie movie that won one of the prestigious fest's audience awards, no less — and also feature a huge music celebration right at its centre? The 2023 Melbourne International Film Festival. Just under three months out from the Victorian capital's annual cinema showcase, MIFF has revealed its first two titles for this year, both with strong local connections.

Launching the festival for 2023 is Noora Niasari's Shayda, which is set and shot in Melbourne, marks the Tehran-born, Australian-raised writer/director's feature debut and tells an autobiographical tale. Seeing Niasari leap from participating in the MIFF Accelerator Lab for short film helmers to opening the fest, the movie follows an Iranian woman and her daughter who seek refuge at a suburban Melbourne women's shelter. Cate Blanchett's Dirty Films executive produces, while 2022 Cannes Best Actress-winner Zar Amir-Ebrahimi (Holy Spider) and Australian great Leah Purcell (The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson) star.

Since returning to in-person fests after two pandemic-affected virtual-only years in 2020 and 2021, this is MIFF's second homegrown opener in succession. In 2022, Goran Stolevski's coming-of-age feature Of an Age did the honours. Of course, Shayda will have ample company when it comes to local titles in 2023, including the also just-announced Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story. The documentary will enjoy its world premiere at MIFF, as the festival's first-ever gala screening from its regular Music on Film program.

Celebrating the late Australian record executive and promoter, who passed away in 2021, Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story steps through its namesake's life and career. Unsurprisingly, it has plenty of well-known names joining in to pay tribute, with featured interviewees spanning Kylie Minogue, Dave Grohl, Sting, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Jimmy Barnes. And, when the Paul Goldman (Suburban Mayhem)-directed doco plays MIFF mid-fest, it will score red-carpet events across multiple Melbourne venues.

As for what else will screen in the festival's 71st year, the rest of the program will start being revealed in early June, ahead of the full 2023 MIFF lineup drop in July. Whatever ends up on the bill after Shayda and Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, they'll join a fest that'll continue its 2022 format of playing in cinemas in Melbourne (from Thursday, August 3–Sunday, August 20) and at regional Victorian locations (from Friday, August 11–Sunday, August 13 and Friday, August 18–Sunday, August 20), and also once again expand its audience by bringing back online platform MIFF Play (from Friday, August 18–Sunday, August 27).

Shayda's opening-night session will screen on Thursday, August 3, with tickets for MIFF members available from 8am on Tuesday, May 23 and general public sales from 10am on Thursday, May 25. If you're keen to see Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, it'll premiere on Thursday, August 10, with tickets available at the same times as Shayda.

The 2023 Melbourne International Film Festival runs from Thursday, August 3–Sunday, August 20 at a variety of venues around Melbourne; from Friday, August 11–Sunday, August 13 and Friday, August 18–Sunday, August 20 in regional Victoria; and online nationwide with MIFF Play from Friday, August 18–Sunday, August 27. For further details, including the full program from Tuesday, July 11, visit the MIFF website.

Published on May 23, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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