This year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is in full swing and tickets are selling fast for foreign films that Australian cinephiles might not get to see elsewhere.
But what movie-goers forget is that the annual festival also offers a diversity of homegrown films, featuring directors and actors from across the country.
Make sure you set aside time in your busy MIFF schedule to catch these five Australian films and celebrate the talent in our local stories.
1. Ali’s Wedding (2016)
Ali’s Wedding is a breath of fresh air when it comes to our nation’s media representation of Muslim Australians. Set in Melbourne, director Jeffrey Walker’s comedy follows Ali (Osamah Sami), the son of a Muslim cleric, who struggles under his community’s pressures and finds himself thrown into an arranged marriage while his heart belongs to another, Dianne (Helana Sawires). Winner of Best Original Screenplay at the Australian Writers’ Guild Awards, Ali’s Wedding is the charming, sensitive and humorous film we need in Australia right now.
2. Bastardy (2008)
For most Australians, Indigenous elder and prolific actor Jack Charles is a familiar face — but not like this. Bastardy, directed by Amiel Courtin-Wilson and supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, explores all facets of Charles’ life over seven years, from his unwavering passion and talent in acting to his reputation as a thieving heroin addict. Bastardy made waves when it first came out nearly ten years ago for being “funny and arresting in its frankness” and a harrowing reflection of how established Indigenous actors survive in our society, so don’t miss this chance to see it on the big screen.
3. That’s Not Me (2017)
If you’ve ever felt like you’ve lived in a successful sibling’s shadow, then this is the film for you. Director Gregory Erdstein crafts a quirky but tender comedy about a pair of twins: one with a starring role on a HBO television series, and the other, Polly (Alice Foulcher), a budding, self-sabotaging actress. There’s a lot of poking fun at the entertainment industry and its shallow preoccupation with appearances, and you’ll laugh and cringe at the highs and lows of Polly’s career and personal life.
4. The Silent Eye (2017)
Would rather steer away from narrative and more towards art? The Silent Eye by the director of Bastardy, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, is hitting MIFF. Free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor soundtracks legendary dancer Min Tanaka’s sweeping movements in this experimental film which had its world premiere at the Whitney Museum of American Art last year. It’s an intimate and inspiring performance that will give you the chills once you see how beautifully music and dance meld together.
5. Ellipsis (2017)
Ellipsis proves that a film’s success doesn’t depend on a Hollywood budget and a technologically advanced camera; just good storytelling. Director David Wenham makes his feature debut in the form of a Sydney-set romance, where two strangers’ lives tangle when Jasper (Benedict Samuel) accidentally breaks Viv’s (Emily Barclay) phone. Lauded as a delicate but striking ode to Sydney’s streetscape, Ellipsis reminds us that sometimes the best films are made under limitations.