Spending yesterday catching up on the recently released Hollywood blockbusters Captain America: The First Avenger and Rise of the Planet of the Apes for the Plato’s Cave podcast, really rammed home just how much I appreciate and value the Melbourne International Film Festival. While the films I saw yesterday were OK, the stream of vacuous trailers that screened beforehand demonstrated how bland and dull so much wide-release cinema currently is. (The latest episode of Plato’s Cave with those reviews plus a rant about bad behaviour in the cinema is now online.)
We are truly blessed to have been exposed to so much diverse and challenging cinema at MIFF during the 17 days of the festival, making me come to the conclusion that one of the main purposes of attending such festivals is to experience stuff outside of your comfort zone and frame of reference. The challenging nature of so many of the films screened is essential to the vibrancy of such a festival and if I loved everything that I saw then I’d frankly be concerned. I hope to be mostly beyond the point of being offended or bored by cinema, but I do relish being troubled, perplexed, confused and annoyed as well as being delighted, moved and provoked. So MIFF this year certainly delivered what I think was a rich festival experience.
I also love the social aspect of MIFF and while I wasn’t as socially active online or in the real world due to committing to the 60 film blog-a-thon challenge, I did love hearing from people who commented here, on Twitter, on Facebook and most especially in person. It was great having strangers, old friends and people I’d only previously encountered online come over to chat about what they’d seen and respond to what I had written. This year there was a real sense of mutual respect and interest in the different ways that people respond to cinema, not to mention a sense of camaraderie that we were taking part in the festival experience together regardless of whether we were seeing 60 films or 10. An extra big shout-out to everybody who allowed me to profile them in my Show us your MIFF spot and to all those who inadvertently provided me with material for my MIFFhaps spots, especially Joel.
So, what about the films themselves? I’ve worked out that I attended 61 sessions, which doesn’t including the two session that I fell asleep during but does include two short film packages. I saw a total of 59 feature films (63 if I include the four I saw in media screenings before the festival) and 16 short films.
My top ten MIFF 2011 feature films:
(not including the retrospective screenings)
Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard (Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein, 2011)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
How to Die in Oregon(Peter Richardson, 2011)
The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011)
Michael (Markus Schleinzer, 2011)
Polisse (Maïwenn Le Besco, 2011)
Surviving Life (Přežít svůj život, Jan Švankmajer, 2010)
Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)
The Turin Horse (A torinói ló, Béla Tarr, 2011)
My top five MIFF 2011 short films:
The Accordion (Jafar Panahi, 2010)
All Flowers in Time (Jonathan Caouette, 2010)
Las Palmas (Johannes Nyholm, 2011)
Sophie Lavoie (Anne Émond, 2010)
Stardust (Nicolas Provost, 2010)
And finally, here is the list of all the feature films that I saw. To give you a very general guide of what I thought about them all I have added star ratings, but please don’t take them too seriously! Each title clicks through to my thoughts of those films that I wrote during the festival.
13 Assassins (Jūsannin no Shikaku, Takashi Miike, 2010) ✭✭✭✭
3 (Tom Tyker, 2010) ✭✭✩
Another Earth (Mike Cahill, 2011) ✭✭✩
Armadillo (Janus Metz Pedersen, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard (Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (Michael Rapaport, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Beauty and the Beast (La belle et la bête, Jean Cocteau, 1946) ✭✭✭✭✩
Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010) ✭✭✭
Being Elmo (Constance Marks, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Ben Lee: Catch my Disease (Amiel Courtin-Wilson, 2011) ✭✭✭
Black Venus (Vénus noire, Abdellatif Kechiche, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Bobby Fischer Against the World (Liz Garbus, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Boxing Gym (Frederick Wiseman, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010) ✭✭✭✭
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (Alex Gibney, 2010) ✭✭✭✭
Cold Fish (Tsumetai nettaigyo, Sion Sono, 2010) ✭✭✭
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
End of Animal (Jo Sung-hee, 2010) ✭✭✭
The Eye of the Storm (Fred Schepisi, 2011) reviews embargoed
Fire in Babylon (Stevan Riley, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Give Up Tomorrow (Michael Collins, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Good Bye (Bé omid é didar, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2011) ✭✭✭
The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Guilty of Romance (Koi no tsumi, Sion Sono, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Hobo with a Shotgun (Jason Eisener, 2011) ✭✭
How to Die in Oregon (Peter Richardson, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
I Am Eleven (Genevieve Bailey, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Jane Eyre (Cary Fukunaga, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Jess + Moss (Clay Jeter, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982) ✭✭✭✭
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011) ✭✭✭
Life in a Day (Kevin Macdonald, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Magic Trip (Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney, 2011) ✭✭✭
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Michael (Markus Schleinzer, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
The Mill and the Cross (Lech Majewski, 2011) ✭✭✭
Norwegian Wood (Noruwei no mori, Tran Anh Hung, 2010) ✭✭✭
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Outside Satan (Hors Satan, Bruno Dumont, 2011) ✭✭✭
Polisse (Maïwenn Le Besco, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Project Nim (James Marsh, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Route Irish (Ken Loach, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010) ✭✭✭✭
The Silence of Joan (Jeanne captive, Philippe Ramos, 2011) ✭✭
Sing Your Song (Susanne Rostock, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
A Stoker (Kochegar, Alexei Balabanov, 2010) ✭✭
Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2010) ✭✭✩
Super (James Gunn, 2010) ✭✭✭✭
Surviving Life (Přežít svůj život, Jan Švankmajer, 2010) ✭✭✭✭
The Swell Season (Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins and Carlo Mirabella-Davis, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Tatsumi (Eric Khoo, 2011) ✭✭✭
Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Toomelah (Ivan Sen, 2011) ✭✭✭
Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren, André Øvredal, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Troubadours (Morgan Neville, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
The Turin Horse (A torinói ló, Béla Tarr, 2011) ✭✭✭✭
Under the Hawthorn Tree (Shan zha shu zhi lian, Zhang Yimou, 2010) ✭✭✭
The Unjust (Bu-dang-geo-rae, Ryoo Seung-wan, 2010) ✭✭✭✩
Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011) ✭✭✭✩
The Yellow Sea (Hwanghae, Na Hong-jin, 2010) ✭✭✭✭
Thanks again for reading my MIFF 2011 blog-a-thon entries and I hope you continue to check out the reviews and articles that I post here at least twice a week, once things go back to normal. In the meantime, I think I’ll take a few days off from seeing films and look for some paid work!
Great coverage, Thomas! And though I saw a criminally small number of films this year, it appears we agreed on the ones we had in common. Loved The Yellow Sea, Clinet 9, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Super. Betrayed myself by really liking a Lars von Trier film.
Will set about tracking down the ones favourites of yours that I didn’t get to see!
Wow. Excellent work Thomas. Very interesting Top 10. The only two I have seen are Drive and Martha Marcy May Marlene, both of which I saw in my three days in Melbourne. Great job getting through the 60 films. I would love to give a feat like that a go at SFF next year. I was disappointed by Melancholia, Tiny Furniture and Another Earth, though. Hope you enjoyed the Closing Party festivities. Judging by the Twitter updates of your colleagues in the photo, they certainly did haha.
Congratulations on participating in the initiative….reading all the blogs really contributed to the sense of a ‘festival’ for me….
In 17 days I saw 55 films. I saw another 3 in the 4 days beforehand – two previews plus the opening night film.
My favorites were Le Havre, The Apple, Goodbye, Into Eternity, A Separation, The Guard, The Troubadours, Tears of Gaza, Page One: The New York Times, Exporting Raymond, On the Sly, most of the International Shorts program and the short Leonid’s Story from the documentary shorts program. My least favourite were Principles of Life, Drive, The Fourth Portrait. It was all great fun…..
Off to Jane Eyre at the Nova tonight…see you at MIFF2012
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