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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

MIFF Is Expanding Its Digital (and National) Program and Pushing Back Its In-Person Screenings

The 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival has also just added Palme d’Or -winner 'Titane' to its in-cinema program.
By Sarah Ward
August 02, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
August 02, 2021
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With gathering and venue restrictions in place following Victoria's recent almost two-week lockdown, and Greater Sydney and southeast Queensland both currently in lockdown, it's currently a tricky time to host Australia's biggest film festival. The Melbourne International Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 5, and announced its full 2021 program back in mid-July; however, responding to the reality both in the city and nationwide at present, it's making some considerable changes to its format.

In 2020, the event was forced to go digital due to the pandemic — a development that's part of this year's lineup, too, but in conjunction with physical screenings in Melbourne and Victorian cinemas. Initially, in-person sessions were set to span the festival's first week or so, before the event closed up online. Now, MIFF has announced that it's flipping that order and expanding its virtual component.

Accordingly, for the full duration of the festival, MIFF will screen more than 90 features and a range of short films via its online platform MIFF Play. They'll be available to not only to Melbourne viewers, but to cinephiles Australia-wide, which'll make for handy viewing for those under stay-at-home conditions. Last year's jump to digital resulted in MIFF's biggest festival yet, audience-wise, in fact — and this year's online selection will now start the fest with 2021 Sundance hit CODA, a coming-of-age story about the daughter of adults who are deaf, which is also an English-language remake of French feature The Bélier Family. 

Which other movies will be added to the online lineup haven't yet been revealed, but MIFF has announced a number of new titles that'll screen in cinemas between Thursday, August 12–Sunday, August 22. That's when Melburnians will be able to see this year's Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or -winner Titane, which saw French filmmaker Julia Ducournau (Raw) become only the second female filmmaker to win the coveted prize. Also headed to MIFF straight from the prestigious fest: romantic-comedy The Worst Person in the World from director Joachim Trier (Thelma, Oslo, August 31st); JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, a Donald Sutherland- and Whoopi Goldberg-narrated documentary from Oliver Stone; and Abdullah Mohammad Saad's Rehana Maryam Noor, the first film from Bangladesh to officially screen at Cannes.

During the physical portion of the program, Leah Purcell's exceptional The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson will still take the opening night slot, just on Thursday, August 12. Due to gathering limits, MIFF will also screen the feature at a range of other venues, including The Astor Theatre, The Sun Theatre, Pentridge Cinema, Lido Cinema and CBD venues.

The fest's already-announced lineup still remains in place, which means that Melburnians can also look forward to seeing Adam Driver-starring musical Annette; Memoria, which features Tilda Swinton in Cemetery of Splendour filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's English-language debut; and Bergman Island, the Tim Roth and Mia Wasikowska-starring latest title from Mia Hansen-Løve (Things to Come). Other highlights include 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).

The 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival runs from Thursday, August 5–Sunday, August 22 — screening online for the festival's entire duration, and playing at a variety of venues around Melbourne from Thursday, August 12–Sunday, August 22. For further details, visit the MIFF website.

Published on August 02, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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