Melbourne Film Festival Unveils Full Lineup, Retains Hybrid Format

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The Melbourne International Film Festival has unveiled the full lineup for its 2023 edition, with “Shayda,” by Australian-Iranian director Noora Niasari, set as the opening title.

The festival will run as a live event August 3-20, at venues around the city and its suburbs, and online Aug 18 – 27. The hybrid format was developed during the COVID pandemic and MIFF found it useful as a tool to reach further away audiences and wider demographics than a strictly in-theater edition.

The ‘Bright Horizons’ competition section open to films by first- or second-time feature directors contains an 11-title mix of new and recently-debuted works.

As well as opening the festival, “Shayda” will play in competition. The competition’s other Australian-made title was announced as “The Rooster,” from actor turned writer-director Mark Leonard Winter.
International titles in competition include “Banel & Adama,” by Franco-Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, which played in competition in Cannes; “How to Have Sex,” by writer-director Molly Manning Walker, which debuted in Un Certain Regard at Cannes; “The Sweet East,” by Sean Price Williams; Sofia Alaoui’s “Animalia,” which debuted in Sundance and uses an alien invasion to comment on class, religion and gender roles in contemporary Morocco; Cannes Camera d’Or-winner “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell,” by Vietnam’s Pham Thien An; Savanah Leaf’s “Earth Mama”; Cannes Critics’ Week opener “Ama Gloria,” by France’s Marie Amachoukeli; Lila Avilés’ second film “Tótem,” which debuted in Berlin; and Giacomo Abbruzzese’s Berlin Silver Bear-winner “Disco Boy.”

The winners will be decided by a jury co-headed by Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman (co-directors of last year’s Bright Horizons-winning “Neptune Frost”) and also including documentarian Alexandre O. Philippe, former Camera d’Or winner Anthony Chen, Australian performer Zoe Terakes and Indonesian director Kamila Andini.

“Shayda,” which received backing from Melbourne’s Premiere Fund and which premiered earlier this year in Sundance, will receive the gala screening treatment at MIFF. It was executive produced by Cate Blanchett’s Dirty Films.

Other galas go to the world premiere of rock ‘n’ roll doc, “Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story.” It is billed as “the definitive account of the life and legend of Australian rock royalty Michael Gudinski” and described as “a rollicking personal story of the one-man music promoting machine and a rip-roaring record of the artists he helped rocket to the top of the charts.” The festival will close with quick-witted crowd-pleaser “Theater Camp,” the feature debut of Nick Lieberman and Molly Gordon (“Booksmart”).

Other headline international selections include: Justine Triet’s Cannes Palme d’Or-winner “Anatomy of a Fall”; Kore-eda Hirokazu’s “Monster,” following its Cannes debut; Todd Haynes’ “May December”;  Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “About Dry Grasses”; Alice Rohrwacher’s “La Chimera”; Catherine Breillat’s “Last Summer”;  Wim Wenders’ duo “Anselm” and “Perfect Days”; Marco Bellocchio’s “Kidnapped”; and Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter.”

Australian titles make up a large portion of MIFF’s selection. They include: the first virtually-produced Australian feature, “Mercy Road” by director John Curran; “Voices In Deep,” from Jason Raftopoulos; basketball documentary “Rose Gold,” directed by Matthew Adekponya; low-budget genre piece “You’ll Never Find Me,” by Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell; Melbourne-set queer drama “Sunflower” by writer-director Gabriel Carrubba; and Jason Di Rosso’s “The Hidden Spring.”

Melbourne Film Festival Unveils Full Lineup, Retains Hybrid Format

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