This Year's MIFF Features a Black Comedy about Cronulla, a Jerry Lewis Retrospective, and Louis Theroux's Scientology Movie

It’s a big year for documentaries and domestic releases at next month’s festival.

An eight-hour-long epic about the history and mythology of the Philippines, a black comedy about the Cronulla riots, and retrospectives of Jerry Lewis and Setsuko Hara all feature in the Melbourne International Film Festival program, released last night.

The two week festival casts an extremely wide net across international and domestic cinema, including some of the most talked about movies from this year’s Cannes.

This year’s centrepiece screening will be Down Under, a harsh and hilarious film set in the aftermath of the Cronulla riots. The film follows two sets of hot headed young men looking for a place to direct their anger in the days after the conflict. The film promises to be controversial, taking an unapologetic look at the absurdness of the racial tensions at the heart of the 2005 riot. Director Abe Forsythe has previously taken awards at Tropfest for his comedic short films, including the overall prize in 2010 for his short film, Shock.

Another domestic feature attracting much attention is Joe Cinque’s Consolation. The film is based on Helen Garner’s 2004 novel of the same name, documenting the 1997 manslaughter of Canberra man Joe Cinque by his girlfriend Anu Singh, when Singh injected Cinque with a lethal dose of heroin. The centre of the film is its exploration of group culpability, looking at the responses of Singh’s friends after she first told them of her plans to kill her boyfriend. The film is underpinned by Garner’s meticulous research of the case and its salient characters, as well as its faithful recreation of late 90s Canberra complete with period soundtrack. This is the first feature length film from director Sotiris Dounoukos.

This will be a big year for feature length documentaries at the festival, with Beware The Slenderman and The Family both tackling the intimate and horrifying stories bubbling under modern society. Beware the Slenderman is a true-crime inquest into the attempted murder of a twelve year old girl in 2014. The film intertwines snippets from police interrogations and interviews from shocked parents with a meandering survey of meme culture and its role in the assault. The Family combines years of in-depth research by director Rosie Jones into a deeply disturbing documentary on the past and present members of Australia’s most notorious cult. The film confronts not just the cult itself, but the conservative suburban environment in which it germinated. Louis Theroux’s first big-screen-specific feature, Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie will also be playing.

The festival’s two retrospective collections address the lives of two extremely different cinematic figures. Setsuko Hara, known in Japan as “The Eternal Virgin”, is held up as one of the undying angels of Japan’s cinematic golden era. Six of the films in which Hara starred will be played, from her first film with world renowned director Yasujurô Ozu to their last film together, Tokyo Story, which many critics regard as one of the greatest films of all time.

In contrast, a Jerry Lewis retrospective looks at the great actor and film maker’s versatility as a writer, comedian, director and producer. Every one of the 12 films Lewis released throughout his career are being screened, showcasing his talents both behind and in front of the camera.

This year's MIFF runs from July 28 - August 14. You can get tickets here and view the whole program here


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