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Melbourne International Film Festival Has Just Announced Its Jam-Packed Complete 2021 Lineup

After staging a digital-only festival in 2020, MIFF is returning this year with a hybrid physical and online event — and with 283 titles on the bill.
By Sarah Ward
July 13, 2021
By Sarah Ward
July 13, 2021

The Melbourne International Film Festival has been showcasing the best that cinema has to offer for seven decades now, but it has never hosted a fest like its upcoming 2021 event. Given that every year's festival heralds a fresh lineup filled with new big-screen gems, that's always true in a fashion; however, this is the first time that MIFF is going both physical and digital in a significant way.

MIFF's just-announced full 2021 program boasts plenty of must-see movies, including opening night's previously revealed Australian standout The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson; Adam Driver-starring musical Annette, which screens straight from opening this year's Cannes Film Festival; and a festival-record 40 world premieres in total. It also offers multiple ways for audiences to watch its selection, including folks who aren't or can't make the trip to Melbourne. Accordingly, between Thursday, August 5–Sunday, August 22, Melburnians can head to a range of local cinemas — and from Saturday, August 14–Sunday, August 22, cinephiles all around the country can watch from home, too.

Neither group will be short on options, although the in-person lineup is considerably bigger than the program of flicks that'll be available to watch on the festival's new online viewing platform, MIFF Play. In total, this year's fest spans 283 titles, including 199 features, 84 shorts and 10 virtual reality experiences, with 62 of those also available to watch digitally.

MIFF's 2021 closing night pick is one of the films that movie buffs can choose to view in either setting. Directed by and starring Natalie Morales (The Little Things), and completely filmed via Zoom in 2020, Language Lessons is a platonic rom-com about a Spanish teacher (Morales) and her new student (Mark Duplass, Bombshell). It's also one of the big-name titles on the full lineup this year, alongside Memoria, which features Tilda Swinton in Cemetery of Splendour filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's English-language debut; Bergman Island, the Tim Roth and Mia Wasikowska-starring latest title from Mia Hansen-Løve (Things to Come); No Sudden Move, Steven Soderbergh's crime flick with Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro and Jon Hamm; and Pig, which sees Nicolas Cage play a truffle hunter (yes, really).

Also on the newly revealed complete bill: centrepiece gala selection Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which is directed Questlove and looks back on the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969; Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, a documentary charting the late presenter and chef's life; and River, the latest musing on the planet we all call home by Sherpa director Jennifer Peedom. There's also Cow, which sees American Honey director Andrea Arnold explore the existence of a dairy cow; Street Gang: How We Hot to Sesame Street, about the beloved children's television staple; and Year of the Everlasting Storm, in which the aforementioned Weerasethakul is joined by six other filmmakers on an anthology about life under lockdown and the power of cinema.

Festival attendees can similarly check out There Is No Evil, the searing 2020 Berlinale Golden Bear-winner which screens as part of a showcase of new Iranian cinemas; collaborative doco Those Left Waiting, which has been filmed by refugees around the world; music mockumentary The Nowhere Inn, starring Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney) and Annie Clark (St Vincent); In the Earth, the new film from Free Fire and High-Rise's Ben Wheatley, which steps into a world ravaged by a virus; and blistering thriller New Order, which delves into power and oppression in Mexico City. From the Australian contingent, Fist of Fury Noongar Daa dubs the Bruce Lee-starring Fist of Fury in an Aboriginal Australian language, and becomes the first feature to ever do so — while The Kids looks back on the seminal 90s film Kids, competitive swimming drama Streamline is based on Ian Thorpe's experiences, and Friends & Strangers is an Aussie slacker satire.

On the must-see list, these newly revealed titles join the likes of Australian drama Nitram, about the lead up to the events in Port Arthur a quarter-century ago; Petit Mamam, the new film from Portrait of a Lady on Fire's Céline Sciamma; and tweet-to-screen comedy Zola — all of which were announced last month in the fest's first batch of titles.

MIFF's physical venues for 2021 include Comedy Theatre, the Forum, RMIT Capitol Theatre, ACMI, Kino Cinemas, Hoyts Melbourne Central, Coburg Drive-In, The Astor, Palace Cinemas Pentridge, The Sun Theatre and Lido Cinemas — and, if you're wondering about the big move into digital as well, that follows 2020's online-only fest, which became MIFF's largest festival ever, audience-wise.

The 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival runs from Thursday, August 5–Sunday, August 22 at a variety of venues around Melbourne. For further details, visit the MIFF website.

Published on July 13, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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