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Melbourne International Film Festival Has Revealed Its First 2019 Films

A 14-hour epic, Ai Weiwei's latest doco and a new zombie comedy starring Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o — and that's just in the first announcement.
By Sarah Ward
May 30, 2019
By Sarah Ward
May 30, 2019

New venues, a highly topical opening night film, eagerly anticipated premieres and plenty of festival circuit hits — that's the Melbourne International Film Festival's first major lineup reveal for 2019.

While MIFF has been dropping small program hints for a few weeks — including a live movie-and-music performance by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and a screening of fantastic French drama Girlhood with an all-new live score — the festival has saved plenty of excitement for this hefty initial announcement. Yes, it's time to start counting down the days until August 1, booking a couple of weeks off and preparing to spend a whopping 18 days in a cinema.

Or cinemas, to be exact. MIFF always spreads itself across the inner city, and this year it'll be doing so at five new venues. Given ACMI's closure for renovations and temporary move to the Capitol Theatre as a result, it should come as no surprise that MIFF will be following suit. Also joining the festival fold are Plenary at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Arts House, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins Auditorium and Carlton favourite Cinema Nova.

As for what you'll be seeing, MIFF 2019 will kick off with documentary The Australian Dream. Written by award-winning Australian journalist Stan Grant, it focuses on Adam Goodes, not only exploring his decorated AFL career but also his passionate work as an Indigenous rights activist. It's the second doco on the former Sydney Swans player this year, with The Final Quarter screening at the Sydney International Film Festival in June.

Also on the local front, MIFF will host the Australian premiere of zombie comedy Little Monsters in its centrepiece slot, with the Sundance-debuting film directed by Down Under's Abe Forsythe and led by Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o. Elsewhere in the program, the Melbourne-shot Angel of Mine brings Noomi Rappace back to the psychological thriller genre, Judy and Punch pairs Mia Wasikowska with Damon Herriman, and the Alia Shawkat-starring Animals delves into thirty-something malaise courtesy of 52 Tuesdays' director Sophie Hyde.

Other high-profile standouts include Ai Weiwei's latest documentary, The Rest, which continues his activism-focused examination of the global refugee crisis; The Art of Self Defence, featuring Jesse Eisenberg as an accountant whose joins an off-kilter karate studio; Tilda Swinton and her daughter Honor Swinton Byrne in the stunning 80s-set drama The Souvenir; and close-up cinematic portrait Your Face from Taiwanese slow cinema great Tsai Ming-liang.

Melburnians can also look forward to Japanese teens forming an electro-pop band in We Are Little Zombies, Peter Strickland's haunted dress thriller In Fabric, and the 14-hour (yes, 14-hour), six-part Argentinian epic La flor. Plus, there's a deep dive into New Orleans life with Venice hit What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?, Harvey Weinstein documentary Untouchable, four-hour Watergate investigation Watergate — Or: How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President and a 25th-anniversary screening of Béla Tarr's 432-minute opus Sátántangó.

And that's all before the full 2019 MIFF program drops on Tuesday, July 9.

The 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival runs from Thursday, August 1 to Sunday, August 18 at a variety of venues around Melbourne. For further details, including the full program from Tuesday, July 9, visit the MIFF website.

Published on May 30, 2019 by Sarah Ward
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