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Melbourne International Film Festival 2023

MIFF is turning 71 with 18 days filling Melbourne cinemas with 267 films.
By Sarah Ward
July 11, 2023
By Sarah Ward
July 11, 2023

Goodbye daylight, hello Melbourne's cinemas: the Melbourne International Film Festival is back for 2023. And, it's asking a question with one of its must-see movies: why just have Tilda Swinton star in a film as one character when she can play two, and a mother and daughter at that?

The film in question is The Eternal Daughter, Swinton's latest collaboration with filmmaker Joanna Hogg after the sublime The Souvenir and The Souvenir: Part II, and it's one of MIFF's big 2023 highlights. Yes, there's more — much, much more. This year's fest will screen 267 films to Melbourne and Victorian movie buffs, in fact, plus a selection of picks virtually and nationally via the returning MIFF Play.

2023's festival footprint mimics the setup that worked so well for the film feast in 2022, which was its first proper year back after the pandemic began. So, it's gracing cinemas in Melbourne from Thursday, August 3–Sunday, August 20; hitting the big screen in regional Victorian locations from Friday, August 11–Sunday, August 13 and Friday, August 18–Sunday, August 20; and also going digital from Friday, August 18–Sunday, August 27.

Shayda, a Melbourne-set drama that won an Audience Award at Sundance, will open MIFF 2023. The world premiere of Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, paying tribute to the Australian record executive and promoter with help from Kylie Minogue, Dave Grohl, Sting, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Jimmy Barnes, gets fest's centrepiece slot. And Theatre Camp is taking over closing night, giving the fest the Aussie debut of a crowd-pleasing comedy about loving the stage, as starring and co-written and co-directed by Booksmart and The Bear's Molly Gordon.

Other standouts include Anatomy of a Fall, a drama about an author (Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann) accused of her husband's murder, which won French director Justine Triet (Sibyl) the French festival's top prize back in May; May December, which hails from Carol director Todd Haynes, is led by Natalie Portman (Thor: Love and Thunder) and Julianne Moore (Sharper), and dives into a scandal; Certain Women's Kelly Reichardt reteaming with Michelle Williams again with Showing Up; and Biosphere, about the last two men on earth, with star and co-writer Mark Duplass (The Morning Show) coming to Melbourne in-person with the film.

Or, there's the Josh O'Connor (Mothering Sunday)-led La Chimera from Happy as Lazzaro's Alice Rohrwacher, Catherine Breillat's (Abuse of Weakness) return with Last Summer, Paul Schrader's (The Card Counter) Master Gardener starring Joel Edgerton (The Stranger), and Hirokazu Kore-eda's Monster — the prolific helmer's latest on a lengthy resume that also includes Shoplifters and Broker. Keen to settle in for the long haul? Still on big-name filmmakers, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's (The Wild Pear Tree) latest About Dry Grasses clocks in at 197 minutes.

In 2022, MIFF launched Bright Horizons, its official competition — and the titles vying for glory in 2023, all from either first- or second-time filmmakers, are impressive for the second year running. Among 11 films, Shayda fits the bill, as does Cannes Un Certain Regard Prize-winner How to Have Sex, about three British teen girls on a boozy getaway; Earth Mama, an A24 release by Grammy-nominated music video veteran Savanah Leaf; and Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, which follows a musical journey across the Vietnamese countryside. Also, the star-cross'd lovers-focused Banel & Adama plays direct from Cannes, Disco Boy stars German talent Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom) and Animalia explores an alien invasion in Morocco.

Elsewhere, Cobweb stars Parasite's Song Kang-ho and is helmed by I Saw the Devil director Kim Jee-woon, the prolific Hong Sang-soo (The Novelist's Film) returns with Walk Up, and four-time British Independent Film Award-winner Blue Jean focuses on a lesbian teacher in Thatcher's England. Oscar-winning Amy and Senna filmmaker Asif Kapadia takes cues from Woyzeck and Frankenstein with the expressionistic dance-filled Creature; 2023 Sydney Film Prize-winner The Mother of All Lies heads south; You Can Call Me Bill pays tribute to the inimitable William Shatner; and Soda Jerk's first film since Terror Nullius, Hello Dankness, offers a chaotic yet cutting survey of US politics from 2016 onwards.

MIFF 2023 will also feature eerie fare in the form of Sleep, by Bong Joon-ho protégé Jason Yu; birth/rebirth, which also riffs on Frankenstein; Perpetrator with Clueless favourite Alicia Silverstone; and Australia's own Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism. And, no strangers to showcasing giallo, including running a retrospective on Italian horror before, the fest is going all in on Suspiria, Tenebrae and Deep Red director Dario Argento.

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