Australia’s oldest film festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), returns this winter in the arts and culture capital of the country with a star-studded line up of films from all around the world.
With our appreciation for Asian features, we’re always excited to pore over the selections MIFF have snatched up from Australia’s neighbouring countries. While the usual suspects are all here like Takashi Miike (Yakuza Apocalypse), Hirokazu Koreeda (Our Little Sister) and Naomi Kawase (An) we venture outside of the festival mainstays and present some of our choice picks from the festival that you should most certainly try and pay attention to.
The Assassin (Taiwan)
A no-brainer here… He could be considered a festival favourite but Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien hasn’t made a film in eight years! After unveiling his lavish wuxia epic The Assassin at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, he’s been drumming up a lot of buzz from festival goers and the wider film community. Capturing Best Director at Cannes, the period epic stars the director’s muse Shu Qi, an assassin ordered to kill the cousin (Chang Chen) she was once betrothed to. Fans of poetic wuxia tales, the likes of which have been explored in cinema by filmmakers such as Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou, will no doubt find much in The Assassin to appreciate.
Ruined Heart! Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore (Philippines)
With a title as provocative as this, you owe it to yourself to at least try and give it a chance right? Truth be told, I don’t know a whole lot about independent Filipino filmmaker Khavn De La Cruz but when his film made its world premiere at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, it certainly grabbed my attention. Starring one of Japan’s most successful actors, Tadanobu Asano, and featuring cinematography from the iconic Christopher Doyle (most famous for his collaborations with Wong Kar-wai) this piece of punk-rock filmmaking has been described as a dialogueless musical and will no doubt yield some intriguing responses.
Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Vietnam)
A curious feature that has caused a few mild stirs everywhere it’s screened, this Vietnamese film is the debut feature of female director Diep Hoang Nguyen and has been described as a sensual and strange film about a young woman’s desire for an abortion. Visually bold and graphically explicit, Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere has French-Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung (Norwegian Wood, The Scent of the Green Papaya) on board as a special consultant and features scenes that has drawn comparisons to the body horror of David Cronenberg.
Coin Locker Girl (South Korea)
A box office success in South Korea, first time filmmaker Han Jun-hee‘s gangster-noir-thriller takes place in Incheon’s Chinatown underworld and focuses on the strenuous relationship between a young woman who, as a baby, was abandoned and left in a coin locker only to grow up homeless, and her adoptive mother who takes takes her in and uses the young woman as a means of aiding her criminal operation. South Korea has a fantastic track record when it comes to thrilling crime films like this which is perhaps the biggest draw of the film. Additionally, we’re told that audiences ought to expect some ace performances from its female leads.
Tokyo Olympiad (Japan)
Funded by the Japanese government and directed by one of Japan’s masters Kon Ichikawa, this documentary was filmed during the 1964 Olympics and has been heralded as one of the greatest sports documentaries ever made. The Criterion Collection once distributed copies of the film but it has since gone out of print. Thankfully, the MIFF faithful will be able to revisit or discover for the first time Ichikawa’s groundbreaking celebration of the human body and its physical capabilities.
The 2015 Melbourne International Film Festival will take place from July 30 – August 16. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, head over to MIFF’s official website.