Bede’s 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival Preview

After three very long years away due to being cancelled and postpone because of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of Australia’s biggest and most prestigious film festivals the Melbourne International Festival (or MIFF for short), will be making its long-awaited return to the cinema for its screenings between August 4th-21st (along with an online program between August 11th-28th on MIFFPlay). Over the course of it, MIFF will be showcasing 257 feature films/documentaries, 102 short films and 12 XR experiences from both Australia and all over the world. As a major film fan who has attended the festival seven times over the past ten years, myself being very excited for it is definitely huge understatement. While MIFF did still continue on in its online form during both 2020 and 2021, it wasn’t quite the same for me as seeing the films on the big screen (they almost did cinema screenings last year but due to a lock down, they had to cancel them). Now that it is, there is a reason to celebrate. However while Covid-19 is still very much around, you’ll know for certain that I will be making sure to stay safe during MIFF’s two cinema run by wearing a mask, sanitising my hands etc. This will be my seventh time covering the festival for Honestly I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I first started going to it. When I attended my first one back in 2012, I only saw about 17 films. Since then though, my viewing list grew quite a lot with each passing year. The 2018 edition in particular had the most films I watched, which was 60. However since I’m a lot more busier these days due to work and other things in my life, I’m only seeing 38 films at the festival this year. Granted that is still quite a lot but compared to last time I went to MIFF back in 2019 (which was 55), my list is a bit more smaller. Despite that I’m still very much excited nonetheless.

Like I’ve done in previous years of the event, I’m going to be mostly focusing on films that either don’t have a release date as of yet or they won’t be released until a much later date (whether that will be later this year or sometime in 2023 instead). Although I’ve made a few exceptions for some certain films that do come out shortly out after the festival is finished since I honestly can’t wait another couple of weeks to see them or if their release dates were announced during it. Honestly I think MIFF 2022 is shaping to be pretty damn good year due to all the major films that will be screening at it. This year’s batch features many critically acclaimed and award-winning films that have premiered at prestigious films like the Cannes Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival etc. Even brand new works from some very high profile and festival favourite filmmakers will be playing, which be the delight of many MIFF attendees. All the films that I picked for my final official list are the ones that I’m most excited about. So which 38 films are they? Well, here’s my complete rundown of everything that I’ll be seeing at MIFF 2022…


DIRECTOR: Charlie Shackleton

PLOT: One print. One screening. A one-of-a-kind chance to reflect on the ephemeral nature of celluloid, even as you watch it deteriorate before your very eyes. A truly unique cinematic experience, The Afterlight is a film designed to be lost to time. It exists as a single 35mm print, a living document of its own circulation that erodes every time it screens. Made up of fragments of hundreds of films from around the world, it features a cast of performers who are themselves no longer alive – an ensemble of ghostly figures that evokes the eerie twilight between life and death. With his acclaimed shorts (Lasting Marks, Fish Story) and essay films (Fear Itself, MIFF 2016; Beyond Clueless), and his contribution to the boundary-pushing, real-time VR anthology A Machine for Viewing (originally slated for MIFF 2020), British director Charlie Shackleton has established himself as one of the most playful, inquisitive and formally daring nonfiction filmmakers working today. Extending an oeuvre that blends cheerful provocations with deeper explorations of personal and cinematic memory, The Afterlight questions the nature of permanence in an age of endless, disposable content.


DIRECTOR: Halina Reijn

PLOT: Rachel Sennott, Amandla Stenberg and Pete Davidson star in a bloody, wildly funny Gen-Z horror-comedy that remixes ClueScream and Mean Girls for the age of TikTok. Sophie (Stenberg, The Hunger GamesThe Hate U Give) and new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) arrive at the suburban mansion owned by the out-of-town parents of David (Davidson, Saturday Night Live). They join their drug-taking, rich-kid friends – including toxic truth-teller Jordan and neurotic, self-deprecating Sarah (Sennott, Shiva Baby, MIFF 2020) – who decide to play a game of ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’, a murder-in-the-dark-style lark to pass the time while they’re stuck without wi-fi. But when someone actually dies, the party spirals into a savage, hilarious web of paranoia and blame. A smash hit out of SXSW, this whip-smart horror-comedy from Dutch director Halina Reijn, working from a story conceived by ‘Cat Person’ author Kristen Roupenian, has the entitlement of Gen-Z brats locked squarely in its sights. Mixing the classic whodunnit with reality-show sass, Hollywood teen-flick wit and ‘For You’ Page mania, Reijn’s English-language debut is deliriously funny, anxiety-inducing and instantly quotable.


DIRECTOR: Tarik Saleh

PLOT: Winner of the Best Screenplay award at this year’s Cannes, this gripping, labyrinthine thriller takes in the corruption and paranoia of Egypt’s religious and political elite. An explosive thriller that speaks truth to power, the latest from acclaimed filmmaker Tarik Saleh (The Nile Hilton Incident, MIFF 2017; Metropia, MIFF 2009) tackles the corruption, hypocrisy and tangled intrigue of Egypt’s religious establishment. Adam (Tawfeek Barhom, The Idol, Mary Magdalene), a young man from a rural fishing village, receives a grant to study at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, renowned as the most prestigious Islamic educational institution in the world. Arriving just after the sudden death of the campus’s Grand Imam, he rapidly becomes a pawn in a power struggle between competing ideological factions at the highest level. Egyptian-born, Sweden-based Saleh delivers a richly compelling film that mixes the espionage action of John Le Carré with a righteous, confrontational satire on the corruption of mosque and state. Zipping onto the screen with skilful, flinty-eyed performances from Barhom and Fares Fares (Rogue OneZero Dark Thirty) as the shady state security agent playing cat-and-mouse with the harried pupil, Boy From Heaven is bold, urgent and extremely entertaining.


DIRECTOR: Hirokazu Kore-eda

PLOT: Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Kore-eda is back with a funny and moving film about an unlikely family unit on the run with an abandoned baby, starring K-pop singer IU and Parasite’s Song Kang-ho in his Cannes Best Actor–winning role. Making his second film outside his homeland, after 2019’s France-set The Truth, Japanese auteur Kore-eda (Shoplifters, MIFF 2018; Like Father, Like Son, MIFF 2013) heads to South Korea for a story of two law-breaking misfits who find themselves thrown into a makeshift family. Debt-ridden laundry shop owner Sang-hyun (Song) hatches a plan with Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won), who works at a ‘baby box’ where mothers can anonymously drop off unwanted newborns, to make some money through the black-market infant trade. But their plan is complicated when their stolen baby’s young mother (Lee Ji-eun, aka IU) returns and joins them on the road – while a pair of detectives (Doona Bae, Cloud Atlas; and Lee Joo-young, Itaewon Class) give chase. Broker tempers its caper-like story with all of the trademark warmth, humanity and humour that have made Kore-eda one of the era’s most beloved auteurs. In turn, Song – who nabbed the Best Actor gong at this year’s Cannes – delivers a standout performance of great nuance and sensitivity. Much like the works that have come before it, this film reaffirms Kore-eda’s status as Japan’s master humanist, capturing the many and magical ways that individuals can be bonded by blood or circumstance.


DIRECTOR: Lukas Dhont

PLOT: Childish homophobia poisons two teen boys’ lifelong friendship in this emotionally devastating Cannes Grand Prix–winning film from Lukas Dhont (Girl, MIFF 2018).Léo invites Rémi to spend an idyllic summer together on his family’s flower farm in rural Belgium, where their imaginations can run wild. Thoughtful and affectionate with each other, the 13-year-olds don’t think twice about their closeness, even sleeping side by side. But when they start high school, their intimacy is questioned by the other kids, who ask pointedly if they are a couple. Suddenly aware that their friendship isn’t deemed ‘normal’ by their peers, Léo decides to change, pushing a confused and hurt Rémi out of his life – with tragic consequences. Dhont’s lauded sophomore effort is a coming-of-age film of tremendous sensitivity and subtlety. A skilled director of young actors, he elicits natural and delicate performances from newcomers Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele, quietly observing their anguish up close and allowing silences to articulate feelings that are impossible to vocalise. Close displays its young maker’s maturing style, unfolding as a beautiful yet painstaking examination of the end of childhood and the insidious impacts of heteronormative pressure.


DIRECTOR: Park Chan-wook

PLOT: Park Chan-wook took home Cannes’ Best Director award for this enchanting, exquisitely seductive neo-noir romance – his first film since The Handmaiden (MIFF 2016). After lamenting the lack of interesting cases in Busan, scrupulous detective Hae-joon lands a whale – a possible homicide – when he’s enlisted to investigate the death of a man whose body is found at the bottom of a cliff. The prime suspect is the man’s beautiful Chinese wife, Seo-rae, who is suspiciously unmoved by the events that have left her widowed. But Hae-joon’s interest in the woman quickly transcends the professional, and she appears to reciprocate his nascent desire. Things are about to get complicated. With Decision to Leave, Park makes it a Cannes award hat trick, adding Best Director to his Grand Prix (for Oldboy, MIFF 2004) and Jury Prize (for Thirst, MIFF 2009). Even while recalling classics such as Basic Instinct and Vertigo, his latest feels refreshingly unpredictable – a twisty, bewitching love story wrapped in a thoroughly 21st-century murder mystery that’s deeply erotic. Actors Park Hae-il and Tang Wei (LustCaution) are magnetically restrained as detective and prey play an intricate game of emotional cat and mouse, but it’s not just their palpable desire leaving viewers breathless; Kim Ji-yong’s cinematography is breathtakingly expressive. Throughout it all, Park peppers in his trademark humour and playfulness, proving yet again that he’s a master of the form.


DIRECTOR: Lucile Hadžihalilović

PLOT: Lucile Hadžihalilović’s latest enigma – a beguiling body-horror nightmare – will wriggle its way into your mind. Somewhere in 20th-century Europe live Mia, a girl without teeth, and her solemn carer Albert, nicknamed Earwig. Each day, he fits her with ice dentures made from her own saliva, which is collected in a bizarre headgear apparatus. But then a mysterious phone call tells Albert to ready Mia for a journey. What’s their destination? Who is the fair-haired woman who watches Mia? And who is the man who goads Albert into a shocking act of violence? Adapted by its director, alongside co-writer Geoff Cox (High Life), from a cult novel by Brian Catling, Earwig is the first English-language feature from Hadžihalilović (Evolution, MIFF 2016; Innocence, MIFF 2005) – cinema’s master of the unsettling, who receives a special retrospective at this year’s MIFF. It’s tempting to compare the film to David Lynch or Peter Strickland, or to describe it as ‘Kafkaesque’, but this feat of muted colour and stunning chiaroscuro, of atmosphere and ambiguous menace, is a surrealist vision that refuses conventional resolution. Otherworldly, uncanny, almost a living painting – you’ll need plenty of ice in your post-screening drink as you ponder this strange tale of connection and loss.


DIRECTOR: Charlotte Vandermeersch & Felix van Groeningen

PLOT: Co-winner of this year’s Cannes Jury Prize, The Eight Mountains is the breathtaking story of a deep friendship between two young men whose paths reconnect in the Italian countryside. Holidaying with his family in an Italian alpine village in the mid-1980s, 12-year-old Pietro befriends local boy Bruno, and they spend an idyllic summer together in this vast, pristine place. But when Pietro’s well-meaning but impetuous dad suggests that Bruno return to Milan with them to study, he inadvertently drives a wedge between the boys. In adulthood, their paths intertwine when Pietro returns to Bruno’s village and they embark on the building of a mountain cabin; as they do, they begin to bridge a crevasse of emotional distance. Collaborating to adapt Italian author Paolo Cognetti’s award-winning 2016 bestseller, Charlotte Vandermeersch and her partner Felix van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown, MIFF 2013; The Misfortunates, MIFF 2009) have created something mesmerisingly novelistic onscreen: a slow accretion of detail that richly illuminates a life-defining bond. Meanwhile, the gorgeous cinematography by Ruben Impens (Titane, originally slated for MIFF 2021) truly captures the magic and majesty of a region that will always be a part of Bruno, and which never fails to call Pietro back. In all aspects, The Eight Mountains is an achievement – one that is all the more stunning for its quietly compelling subtlety.


DIRECTOR: Giuseppe Tornatore

PLOT: A celebratory, star-studded portrait of the late Ennio Morricone, maestro composer for such names as Sergio Leone, Terrence Malick, Brian De Palma and – this film’s own director – Giuseppe Tornatore. Anchored by an in-depth interview with Morricone recorded shortly before his death in 2020, aged 91, this affectionate, career-spanning retrospective was crafted by his frequent collaborator, Cinema Paradiso director Tornatore (The Best Offer, MIFF 2013). Ennio takes us from the prolific composer’s earliest works in television commercials, pop song arrangements and avant-garde improvisations, through to his defining scores for Leone’s spaghetti westerns and onward to Hollywood – a career spanning six decades. Tornatore skilfully weaves archival footage together with behind-the-scenes stories from filmmaker partners like Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, MIFF 2019), Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, MIFF 1971), Clint Eastwood (White Hunter, Black Heart, MIFF 1991) and Dario Argento (whose 1980 film Inferno screens at this year’s MIFF) as well as enthusiastic interviews with musician admirers like Hans Zimmer, Quincy Jones and Bruce Springsteen. But most important of all is the testimony of the man himself, who, despite having scored over 500 films, proves to have a near-encyclopaedic recall for the intimate details of composition, instrumentation and inspiration that lie behind his most famous themes.


DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius

PLOT: Romain Duris and Bérénice Bejo star in this year’s Cannes Opening Night film: a gory, goofy remake of Shin’ichirō Ueda’s cult Japanese zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead. In this affectionate and entertainingly gross French remake, a shambolic, low-budget zombie movie gets an unexpected jolt of afterlife when its obnoxious, abusive director (Duris, Mood Indigo, MIFF 2013; The Beat That My Heart Skipped) unlocks a real-life ancient curse. Pretty soon, the cast and crew – including the director’s wife, the martial-arts-trained head of make-up (Bejo, The PastThe Artist) – have bigger problems than their production falling apart: namely, waging bloody war against rampaging hordes of the undead. Like his 2011 Oscar-winning love letter to early sound cinema, The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius’s ode to the pleasures of horror filmmaking is both innovative, funny and full of giddy delight – and it doesn’t skimp on the over-the-top splatter. With a dash of everything from vintage George A. Romero to Shaun of the DeadTrain to Busan and The Dead Don’t DieFinal Cut is both a homage to the primal joys of zombie fare and a clever, deliriously funny addition to the genre.



PLOT: In this love story written in lava, two intrepid scientists who adore volcanoes as much as each other gift the world with something extraordinary. It could be a scene from an apocalyptic sci-fi: a silver-suited figure dwarfed by a wall of lava spewing up from a scorched, moon-like landscape. But this is documentary footage – stunning, mind-boggling footage captured by French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft (whom some may recall from their cameo in Werner Herzog’s Into the Inferno). Famed across France in the 70s and 80s for their passion for filming volcanoes up close, the molten-storm-chasing couple contributed significantly to our understanding of the geological phenomena, building a legacy that weaves together science and the cinema. Director Sara Dosa (The Seer and the Unseen, MIFF 2019) mines the Kraffts’ copious archive of extraordinary 16mm clips – much of them previously unseen – and collates them into a tender, wryly humorous film that’s part-romance, part-PSA on the dangers of ignoring scientific warnings. The result is a big-screen devotee’s dream, which is only enhanced by Miranda July’s lyrical narration and the score by Air’s Nicolas Godin. But while Dosa and her Sundance award-winning editors have constructed a compelling text from this treasure trove, ultimately it is the Kraffts themselves who drive the story with their boundless curiosity, bravery and verve.


DIRECTOR: Owen Kline

PLOT: In this Safdies-produced coming-of-age black comedy, a comic-book nerd thinks he’s hit the mentoring/muse jackpot when he meets a cantankerous fiftysomething former colourist.Seventeen years old and ensconced in suburban comfort, Robert feels creatively stifled. He desperately wants to write and draw comics, but while he’s got the skills, he has no life experience. One day, following a traumatic incident, Robert announces to his horrified parents that he’s dropping out of school and moving out. Finding lodgings in a dingy basement apartment, he delights in meeting Wallace, an ex-colourist for some of his favourite graphic novels. Will Wallace live up to the idealistic teen’s expectations, or is Robert about to learn some hard lessons?Acidly hilarious, Funny Pages is the directorial debut of Owen Kline, the former child actor best known for playing the younger brother in Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale. In shifting to the other side of the camera, Kline has clearly been influenced by the Safdie brothers, who have hooked the young helmer up with cinematographer to the indie stars Sean Price Williams. Shooting on Super 16mm (and assisted by Hunter Zimny, who lensed MIFF 2021’s The Scary of Sixty-First), he gives the film a gorgeously grimy feel entirely apt for the depicted down-and-out milieu, while actors Daniel Zolghadri and Matthew Maher are engrossing as a prickly pair who probably deserve each other.


DIRECTOR: Hylnur Pálmason

PLOT: In this spectacularly shot late-19th-century-set drama, an unwelcome priest is pushed to the limits of his faith and humanity. Lucas, a young Lutheran priest from Denmark, travels to Iceland to oversee the building of a new parish in a remote coastal town. His interest in the landscape and its people – he carries cumbersome photographic material with him to record what he sees – wanes as the journey across the terrain becomes more and more treacherous. An antagonistic relationship with his tough Icelandic guide then challenges the arrogant priest’s increasingly deluded views, but it’s the beauty and terror of the natural world that cause the greatest spiritual disruption. One of the most talked-about films from Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, this freely imagined historical account emerges from seven photographs taken by a Danish priest in the late 1800s of a remote coastal region of Iceland. A visual artist turned filmmaker, Hlynur Pálmason (A White, White Day) crafts extraordinary images with his regular cinematographer, Maria von Hausswolff, presented in Academy ratio with rounded corners that appear like old photos. Restrained and contemplative yet emotionally brutal, Godland arrives in the tradition of Martin Scorsese’s Silence and Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (MIFF 2018): an interrogation of religion, human relations and colonisation, set against a uniquely menacing landscape.



PLOT: In this polemical Iranian noir, an intrepid female journalist hunts down a serial killer who believes he’s doing Allah’s work. Tehran-based journalist Rahimi (Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, who won Best Actress at Cannes) travels to the Iranian holy city of Mashhad to cover the case of the so-called ‘Spider Killer’, who has been brutally strangling sex workers with their own hijabs. Battling misogynist microaggressions and apathetic police, she joins forces with rumpled local reporter Sharifi, who follows her into the Spider’s web. But she’s not prepared for the way that public sympathy tips in the Spider’s favour, portraying him as the hero he imagines himself to be: a devout Shiite Muslim, war veteran and mild-mannered family man purging the city of sexual corruption. Soaked in glimmering, noirish menace, Holy Spider is based on the real story of Saeed Hanaei, who murdered 16 women in 2000–2001. Iranian-born, Denmark-based writer/director Ali Abbasi – who won the 2018 Prix Un Certain Regard for his film Border – uses this thriller’s lurid genre flourishes to critique his homeland’s theocratic patriarchy. By juxtaposing the killer’s apparent everyman nature with the terror and pain he inflicts, Abbasi shows the full horror of a society that agrees some victims’ lives don’t matter.


DIRECTOR: Quentin Dupieux

PLOT: French fabulist Quentin Dupieux returns with a goofball comedy involving time travel, the pandemic and one man’s robotic penis. In the latest tale from the ever-expanding Dupieux loopy-verse, middle-aged couple Alain (Alain Chabat) and Marie (Léa Drucker, Two of Us, MIFF 2020) move to a tasteful new modern house in the suburbs, where they discover – what else – a de-ageing time-travel tunnel conveniently located in the basement. Time turns inside out, lives turn upside down, and Alain’s work buddy (Benoît Magimel) arrives with his all-new electronic phallus. Since his indelible work as electronic musician Mr. Oizo, Dupieux (Deerskin, MIFF 2019; Rubber, MIFF 2010) has gone on to carve out a distinctively eccentric filmmaking career, moving from tales of murderous car tyres to magical jackets with a gleefully skewed, though decidedly deadpan, eye for the surreal. Incredible but True finds the filmmaker channelling the time-flux of the pandemic, refracting our collective malaise through his signature reality-eschewing playfulness. Fans of the cine-philosophical antics of Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze and Yorgos Lanthimos won’t want to miss a second of this.


DIRECTOR: Ethan Coen

PLOT: Ethan Coen’s solo directing debut is a canny, enjoyable doc about rock ’n’ roll’s “Killer” wild-man that will appeal to both fans of Jerry Lee Lewis’s music and those new to his outrageous story. While Elvis was gyrating behind a guitar and thrusting his way into rock ’n’ roll legend, Lewis was upping the nascent genre’s ante and setting history books alight, almost as if he had to make up for being stuck behind a piano. His onstage wild-man antics, defined by that pioneering playing style – all elbows and kicking limbs and exuberant energy – were matched by his offstage actions, including almost killing his bass player, allegedly intending to kill Elvis and, most infamously, marrying his 13-year-old cousin. The last of these saw him cancelled before cancellation was even a thing, but he had a second coming of sorts as a country and later gospel star; now 86, he remains unapologetic for his past. Save for a short clip from a pre-pandemic 2020 recording session, the younger Coen brother’s sprightly documentary is built entirely out of archival footage, cunningly stitched together by his wife, Tricia Cooke. This collage does more than just tell its subject’s life story: together, Coen and Cooke cleverly let the footage – comprising vintage interviews with Lewis, plus those glorious, exhilarating performances – both speak for and damn the man known as Killer.


DIRECTOR: Martika Ramirez Escobar

PLOT: In this daring and delirious ode to Philippine cinema, fiction clashes with reality and an elderly filmmaker becomes the hero of her own life. Retired action-film director Leonor has lost her bearings. A tragedy on the set of her last project brought her career to a sudden end, her husband has left her, her favourite son is long dead and her other son is a constant thorn in her side. To make ends meet, she continues to write scripts, fantasising about the scenes she’s pulled from her imagination. But when a freak accident puts her in a coma and she ‘wakes up’ inside one of her screenplays, Leonor has a chance to reclaim control of her story. Winner of Sundance’s Special Jury Award for Innovative Spirit, this ambitiously meta feature debut is an audacious tribute to 80s Filipino action films and to the restorative power of storytelling. Writer/director Martika Ramirez Escobar refreshingly places an older woman centre stage and – against a backdrop of cheesy dialogue, grainy stock and the corniest of fight scenes – veteran theatre actor Sheila Francisco shines in a performance that balances comedy and compassion. Leonor Will Never Die embraces the chaos of movie-making: it’s frequently hilarious and surprisingly moving, with an oddball finale that will make you believe in a truly happy ending.


DIRECTOR: Alexandre O. Philippe

PLOT: David Lynch is revered as a master of the dark and avant-garde, so why is he obsessed with The Wizard of Oz? John Waters, Karyn Kusama and others explain. From his black-and-white beginnings to the expansive masterpiece that is Twin Peaks: The Return, Lynch (Inland Empire, MIFF 2007; Twin Peaks, MIFF 1990) has been continuously influenced by the 1939 Technicolor classic The Wizard of Oz. In this documentary, audiences will be taken down the yellow brick road of theory, symbolism and cinematic mystery to uncover the reasoning and impact of the director’s enduring fascination with Dorothy, Toto and the Wicked Witch of the West. Lynch/Oz is the latest deep dive from Alexandre O. Philippe, best known for his investigations into Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (78/52, MIFF 2017) and Ridley Scott’s Alien (Memory – The Origins of Alien, MIFF 2019). The film is once again presented in Philippe’s trademark style that is part scholar, part cinephile-geek, and there’s no better subject for this type of voracious treatment than Lynch. Featuring contributions from filmmakers Waters (A Dirty Shame, MIFF 2005), Kusama (The Invitation, MIFF 2015), David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, MIFF 2013), Aaron Moorhead (The Endless, MIFF 2017) and Justin Benson (Spring, MIFF 2015) as well as screen critics and writers, Lynch/Oz will pull back the red curtain for all lovers of Lynch.


DIRECTOR: Dean Fleischer-Camp

PLOT: An endearing viral video hit starring comedian Jenny Slate is now a mockumentary feature that will warm the cockles of your heart. Dean has just split with his wife and moved into an Airbnb. There, he finds Marcel, a talking one-inch shell with a pasted-on googly eye and a pair of shoes, and decides to make a documentary about him. In interviews, the witty, optimistic Marcel introduces his grandma Connie and his pet lint, Alan. The rest of their family is gone, scattered when the couple who once lived there broke up. But with help from Dean – and Marcel’s favourite TV personality, 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl – this lonely creature becomes a YouTube star, then sets out to find his folk. A runaway hit across the US festival circuit, this mockumentary feature expands a beloved series of internet shorts created by Slate (who voices Marcel) and Dean Fleischer-Camp (who essentially plays himself). The seamless blend of stop-motion and live action, plus improvised dialogue, gives this charming film an air of magic realism, while Isabella Rossellini’s voice adds daffiness to a delightful cast that includes Rosa Salazar (Brand New Cherry Flavor) and Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, MIFF 2015). While the metatextual undercurrent of COVID isolation and relationship breakdown lends Marcel a melancholy tang, it’s ultimately a sweet, uplifting fable of reunion.


DIRECTOR: Ana Lily Amirpour

PLOT: Join a telekinetic young woman on a wild and bloody trip to New Orleans in this subversive horror-comedy from the director of A Girl Walks Home at Night. For most of her life, Mona Lisa Lee has been institutionalised – straitjacketed and nearly catatonic. But under the influence of a blood moon, she decides to break free, finally tapping into her supernatural ability to control human minds. Escaping into New Orleans’ French Quarter, she must figure out how to survive in a world she doesn’t understand, and no-one can stand in her way. Starring a ferociously bewitching Jeon Jong-seo (Burning, MIFF 2018), Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour’s new film explodes onto the screen with her trademark bold visual stylings and twists on genre. Soaked in neon, New Orleans is imbued with a carnivalesque feel that is matched by its kooky inhabitants, including a stripper (played with trashy relish by Kate Hudson) who exploits Mona Lisa’s talents for financial gain and the dogged cop (an unusually straight-faced Craig Robinson) hot on the escapee’s trail. A hostile world, dark humour, odd pairings, superpowers – this thrill ride inspired by your beloved 80s fantasy-adventure movies will have you hypnotised.


DIRECTOR: Brett Morgen

PLOT: From Cannes comes a thrillingly immersive, kaleidoscopic trip through the art and music of iconic shapeshifter David Bowie, featuring stunningly restored and never-before-seen footage. A dizzying rush of sound and vision as out-of-this-world and fittingly unconventional as its subject, this breathtaking space oddity is the first documentary to be made in full cooperation with Bowie’s estate. Such unprecedented access has afforded filmmaker Brett Morgen (Cobain: Montage of Heck) the chance to dive into a vast archive of hitherto-unseen performances, recordings and images as well as Bowie’s artwork and journals. Narrated, via archival audio, by Bowie himself, Moonage Daydream unfurls as both a linear journey and a free-associative mind-trip through a singular career, ricocheting from the familiar (clips from the final Ziggy Stardust performance in the 70s, restored to astonishing new life) to the thrillingly obscure (Bowie’s experimental videos and paintings, backstage footage, eerie ambient performances) via the kind of avant-garde collage that the star would have loved. Morgen keeps his electric eye trained on the images, while the music – remixed and produced by none other than Tony Visconti – veritably puts a ray-gun to your head.


DIRECTOR: Goran Stolevski

PLOT: It’s the summer of 1999 and two teens fresh out of high school – reserved, Serbian-born Nikola (Elias Anton, Barracuda) and fiery Ebony (Hattie Hook) – are partners for a dance competition. On the big day, Nikola gets a distressed call from Ebony, asking to be rescued from the other side of town, so he enlists her brother, the charming Adam (Thom Green, Dance AcademyDownriver, MIFF Premiere Fund 2015), to take him there. On the drive, amid traffic and amicable swagger, the two young men discover a mutual spark … but Adam is leaving the country in 24 hours. Supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, this heady story of youth and love is the second feature from Australian director Stolevski (Would You Look at Her, MIFF 2018; You Deserve Everything, MIFF 2016) – named among Variety’s global ‘10 Directors to Watch for 2022’ list, and whose long-form debut You Won’t Be Alone also screens at this year’s MIFF following its celebrated Sundance premiere. Tactile, funny and heartfelt, Of an Age captures the hinterland of suburbia, the strains of immigrant families, and the crossroads of desire and big dreams in teenage years, as well as lip-biting moments of attraction and anticipation. Like in Weekend before it, time in Of an Age is both constraint and catalyst, with Stolevski depicting the coming-together of two twin souls and the bracing realisation that everything has its moment.


DIRECTOR: Mia Hansen-Løve

PLOT: Léa Seydoux is sublime in Mia Hansen-Løve’s deeply personal family drama about the upheavals and unexpected joys of everyday life. Sandra (Seydoux) leads a subdued, self-contained existence in bustling Paris. Widowed five years earlier, she juggles work as a translator with raising her eight-year-old daughter and looking after her father, who has a neurodegenerative condition that is causing blindness and delusions. As she struggles to find a suitable care facility for him, Sandra runs into an old friend of her husband’s, the unhappily married Clément, and begins to let go of her past. One Fine Morning premiered as part of the Directors’ Fortnight program at Cannes, where it won the Europa Cinemas Label for Best European Film. Dabbling in partial autobiography as she has always done, Hansen-Løve (Bergman Island, originally slated for MIFF 2021; Things to Come, MIFF 2016) once again locates great empathy and humanity in the messy spaces of life. Her sensitive, resolutely unsentimental writing and direction allows Seydoux to shine alongside co-stars Pascal Greggory and Melvil Poupaud, in a performance of extraordinary warmth and feeling as a lonely woman who discovers that loss can offer its own kind of rebirth.


DIRECTOR: François Ozon

PLOT: A classic Rainer Werner Fassbinder film is reimagined as a story of sadomasochistic queer male desire – and a riff on the legendary director’s own tumultuous personal life. In Cologne, 1972, petulant Peter lives ostentatiously in his ornate apartment, accompanied by his obsequious personal assistant, Karl. Recently heartbroken, the filmmaker has taken wantonly to the bottle. But his passions are soon diverted towards alluring young acting prodigy Amir, who in turn sees the older director as a stepping stone to stardom. And so the unlikely pair begin a lopsided relationship, under Karl’s ever-watchful eye. Featuring memorable supporting turns from Isabelle Adjani (Skirt Day, MIFF 2009; Possession) and Fassbinder muse Hanna Schygulla, Peter von Kant has been freely adapted from one of the auteur’s most celebrated works, the arch lesbian melodrama The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (MIFF 1973). At once stunning and scintillating, this sly homage from François Ozon (5 × 2, MIFF 2005; Swimming Pool, MIFF 2003) goes beyond its gender-swapped premise, however – it also sketches a sensitive portrait of the brilliant but notoriously volatile German auteur himself.


DIRECTOR: Amanda Kramer

PLOT: What is a musical when it’s not a musical? What is a man? And what would you get if you threw John Waters, Marlon Brando and A Clockwork Orange into a neon-soaked celluloid blender? Please Baby Please might be the answer. When newlyweds Suze and Arthur witness a brutal attack in the foggy Manhattan streets outside their apartment one night, it has an unexpected impact on their lives. All that leather-clad hypermasculinity on display as the Young Gents greaser gang enact their shocking, but performative, act of violence incites the couple to question their respective senses of self and sexuality. Nominally set sometime in the 50s, but filtered through a technicolour 80s lens, Please Baby Please is here to genderfuck your wildest West Side Story cum Tom of Finland fantasies. As Suze, Andrea Riseborough is breathtaking, while Harry Melling’s Arthur and Karl Glusman’s magnetic gang member Teddy are both gloriously entertaining – plus keep an eye out for a scene-stealing cameo from Demi Moore. Amanda Kramer (whose film Give Me Pity! also screens at MIFF 70) brings a deliberately theatrical aesthetic to her film that’s part Brechtian interrogation of identity, part absurdist quasi-musical, and all camp embrace of melodrama and pseudo-philosophy. Vivid, hilarious, gorgeous and erotic, Please Baby Please is unlike anything else you’ll see this festival.


DIRECTOR: James Spinney & Peter Middleton

PLOT: A warts-and-all (or should that be moustache-and-all) account of the life and times of a cinematic legend whose grand hijinks thrilled and scandalised the world. Three key sources – a rare audio interview from the 1960s, a recorded conversation with a childhood friend and a 1947 press conference – form the core of this expansive and entertaining documentary from the directors of the award-winning Notes on Blindness (MIFF 2016). Alongside dramatic recreations that seamlessly use mimicry and mime, plus reels of illuminating archival footage, the film traces Charlie Chaplin’s career from his early days in the Victorian-era London slums and the invention of his famed character The Tramp, to his meteoric rise in Hollywood and the political and interpersonal controversies that plagued him. Encompassing comedy, art and geopolitics, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s rendition of Chaplin’s story is both captivating and compellingly tragic, revealing a man who – to the end – withheld an inner turmoil. Screening to acclaim at the Telluride, Zurich and London film festivals, The Real Charlie Chaplin is a must for lovers of the silent-film era and for those interested in seeing the messy truth of lives behind the spotlight.



PLOT: A daredevil female motorcyclist revs after a place to belong in this high-octane French genre mashup. Teenage motorcyclist Julia was born to ride, and woe betide anyone who gets in her way. She muscles into the underground motocross stunt ‘rodeo’ scene in the northern outskirts of Paris, where she threatens and angers some boys in the B-Mores gang while earning the wry respect of others. Their leader, incarcerated chop-shop owner Domino, quickly recognises Julia’s potential, but his tough yet vulnerable wife becomes a more complex kind of ally. And when Julia reveals her idea for their most audacious heist yet, the rubber meets the road in the riskiest way possible. In preparation for her electrifying fiction feature debut, which won the Un Certain Regard Coup de Coeur Award at Cannes, director Lola Quivoron spent months hanging out with real suburban bikers. She later found her star, mesmerising newcomer Julie Ledru, pulling stunts on Instagram. Mingling a deconstruction of gender roles, a gritty underclass coming-of-age story and a biker-gang action flick, Rodeo seemingly takes parts from Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood (MIFF 2019), Julia Ducournau’s Titane (originally slated for MIFF 2021) and Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, then assembles them into a daringly original and thrilling narrative engine.


DIRECTOR: Jean Luc Herbulot

PLOT: Explosive action, supernatural horror and subversive politics collide in this electrifying Senegalese film about a trio of mercenaries marooned in a spooky coastal paradise. Set against the backdrop of the 2003 coup d’état in Guinea-Bissau, this genre-scrambling, cross-continental thriller follows a trio of legendary mercenaries transporting a Mexican drug dealer to Dakar when their plane is forced to alight near the lush Sine-Saloum Delta region. This eerie coastal paradise soon turns malevolent when a Deaf woman and a cop suspiciously show up, tapping into something otherworldly and unleashing a manic adventure at breakneck momentum. Congolese writer/director Jean Luc Herbulot’s hard and hectic hybrid work fires on all imaginable pistons, drawing on everything from spaghetti westerns, monster movies and chanbara flicks, to From Dusk Till Dawn and Predator. All of these various influences are then remixed into a distinctly pan-African cocktail that taps into the region’s mythology and folklore, including a transposed and reimagined take on the American frontier myth. With radiant visuals and multilingual dialogue (including the rarely depicted Wolof and sign language), Saloum is expansive, expertly executed and simply a total blast.


DIRECTOR: Hannah Barlow & Kane Senes

PLOT: This Instagram influencer doesn’t just have a follower count – she’s got a body count. As children, Cecilia and Emma swore they’d be friends forever – until third wheel Alex entered the picture to full frenemy effect, provoking a falling-out that has tainted the intervening years. Now a popular Instagram wellness influencer, Cecilia reconnects with Emma, who has invited her to a hen’s weekend at a secluded country house … which happens to belong to Alex. As passive-aggressiveness morphs into outright aggression, the weekend spirals into algorithm-breaking Insta-carnage. In their second feature collaboration, which premiered to raucous acclaim as SXSW 2022’s Midnighters opener, Aussie co-directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes indulge in lampooning the hallucinatory look and feel – not to mention ravenous excesses – of aspirational social media. Their Canberra-shot horror-comedy takes you on a reaction roller-coaster: from screams of “LOL” to shrieks at the gnarliest gore. Fans of Ingrid Goes West (MIFF 2017) and Tragedy Girls (MIFF 2017) are sure to ‘like’ this depraved, decidedly local revenge tale.


DIRECTOR: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

PLOT: Hot on the heels of their Marvel debut directing episodes of Moon Knight and Loki, filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead return to their kitchen-sink roots with a DIY sci-fi mind-bender. About to skip town for good, Levi holes up in a decrepit Los Angeles apartment for what he assumes will be a short stay as he sorts his stuff out. Instead, he meets and soon clicks with long-time resident John. When the pair start witnessing weird things in Levi’s lounge room, they hatch a get-rich-quick plan to film the phenomena and sell their footage to Netflix. Much as they did in The Endless (MIFF 2017) and Spring (MIFF 2014), Benson and Moorhead direct, produce, edit and star in Something in the Dirt. Set almost entirely within Levi’s apartment, against the backdrop of a semi-apocalyptic, fire-ravaged LA, the film is a COVID chamber piece of sorts. As it digs into its characters’ increasingly wild, conspiracy-fuelled psyches, it also offers a blackly comic take on filmmaking itself via a highly meta, mockumentary framework. It’s deliberately chaotic and loopy, like its protagonists’ unspooling brains, but through it all, Benson and Moorhead’s off-screen friendship imbues their onscreen IDs with a lived-in likeability – even as they spiral further towards delusion and possible doom.


DIRECTOR: Christian Tafdrup

PLOT: Easily one of the most brutal and twisted films of the year, Speak No Evil is a merciless horror of manners. You have been warned. While on holiday in Tuscany, polite Danes Bjørn and Louise befriend vivacious Dutch couple Patrick and Karin. Their respective children, Agnes and Abel, seem to get along, and the meek Bjørn finds Patrick’s unfiltered machismo appealing. So much so that he jumps at the chance for their families to get together again when, months later, an invitation arrives to visit Patrick and Karin at their rural home in the Netherlands. Indeed, it would be dangerously impolite not to accept. From here, director Christian Tafdrup crafts a diabolical tale that morphs from a satire on middle-class manners into something altogether more menacing. As Sune Kølster’s feverish score and Erik Molberg Hansen’s uneasy camerawork chalk your anxiety levels into overdrive, Speak No Evil ominously worms its way under your skin. Tafdrup co-wrote the film with his brother Mads as an exercise in delivering “the most unpleasant experience for an audience, ever” and, while the influence of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (MIFF 1998) or George Sluizer’s The Vanishing lies just under the surface, this work of horror emerges as its own kind of sinister, stomach-churning beast.


DIRECTOR: Claire Denis

PLOT: Legendary French sensualist Claire Denis returns with a steamy, Cannes Grand Prix–winning romance-thriller starring Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn. In this swooning, sexually charged adaptation of Denis Johnson’s 1986 novel, Qualley (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, MIFF 2019) stars as an American journalist drifting through a boozy haze in Nicaragua. While there, a side hustle in sexual favours leads her into a hot and heavy liaison with a mysterious English businessman (Alwyn, The FavouriteThe Souvenir: Part II) – and into a web of political espionage from which both desperately seek to escape. One of contemporary cinema’s greatest auteurs, Denis (Let the Sunshine In, MIFF 2017; Bastards, MIFF 2013; Beau Travail, MIFF 2000) infuses the source text’s drama with her singular brand of disquieting eroticism, updating its Nicaraguan Revolution backdrop to a pandemic-addled world haunted by the ghosts of colonisation and foreign co-dependence. With slippery supporting turns from John C. Reilly as a harried editor and filmmaker Benny Safdie (Uncut GemsGood Time, MIFF 2017) as a shadowy stranger, Stars at Noon is sheer cinematic seduction – all danger and desire.



PLOT: The Breakfast Club meets the outback in this uplifting coming-of-age road movie by Nyul Nyul / Yawuru director Jub Clerc (The Turning, MIFF Premiere Fund 2013; The Heights). With problems on the home front, 15-year-old Murra is on the verge of lashing out. That is, until her policeman uncle thwarts her self-destructive behaviour with a lifeline: a “photo-safari for at-risk kids”. Murra isn’t entirely convinced, but she soon joins cantankerous Kylie, uptight Sean, happy-go-lucky Elvis, and camp counsellors Fernando and Michelle on a transformative bus trip to the Pilbara. On the trail, the teens learn about fun, friendship and first crushes, as well as the forces of ‘reality’ that puncture the bubble of youth. Starring Aboriginal luminaries Tasma Walton (Mystery RoadCleverman) and Mark Coles Smith (Last Cab to DarwinPawno, MIFF 2015), Chilean-Cuban-Australian actor Carlos Sanson Jr (Bump), and a magnetic Shantae Barnes-Cowan (Total ControlFirebite) in the lead, Accelerator Lab alumna Clerc’s MIFF Premiere Fund–supported feature debut is an effervescent story of growth, acceptance and the journey towards finding oneself. With postcard-perfect shots of remote Western Australia and a road-trip-worthy soundtrack of all-Indigenous artists, Sweet As is sure to take you along for its thrillingly cinematic, life-affirming ride.


DIRECTOR: Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne

PLOT: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne present another heartbreaking, empathetic tale from the margins of Belgium’s underclass, which won the Cannes special 75th Anniversary Prize. Sweet-natured Tori and staunch Lokita are child refugees, eager to make Belgium their home after a long and traumatic journey from West Africa. Lacking the necessary papers, they must convince the authorities that they are blood relatives who are ‘worthy’ of remaining in the country, but it won’t be easy. In an attempt to gain false documents, Lokita finds work at a drug dealer’s grow house; separated for the first time, the pair scrounge to survive and do everything they can to be together again. After four decades of transformative social-realist cinema, double Palme d’Or winners the Dardenne brothers (Young Ahmed, MIFF 2019; The Kid With the Bike, MIFF 2011; The Child, MIFF 2005) have done it again – this time with a plaintive and potent dramatisation of the personal fallout of the refugee crisis. With Tori and Lokita, which is driven by the moving performances of non-professional actors Pablo Schils and Mbundu Joely, they turn their focus on the strength required for such brave individuals to make a new life, and to do so with dignity and respect in the face of society’s mounting failings.


DIRECTOR: Ruben Östlund

PLOT: Scoring Ruben Östlund his second Palme d’Or plus an eight-minute standing ovation – and walkouts – at Cannes, Triangle of Sadness is a wildly funny, wildly outrageous satire of the vulgarly rich and beautiful.Models and Insta-fluencers Carl and Yaya don’t have the healthiest of relationships – with each other, with reality or with money. But they have enough cachet to score themselves a trip on a luxury yacht, where their super-wealth is outstripped by the ultra-filthy lucre of the other passengers, including a Russian tycoon (plus wife and mistress), an elderly British couple and a sad-sack tech billionaire. When a perfect storm turns an onboard degustation meal into a disgusting ordeal and ultimately makes boat people of the ship’s one-percenters, the stage is set for the class inversion of your most schadenfreudian fantasies. Following his satirical takedowns of male ego (Force Majeure, MIFF 2014) and art-industry pretence (The Square, MIFF 2017), Östlund now takes a sledgehammer to the jugular of obscene wealth in his first English-language film. Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, MIFF 2017) as Carl and Woody Harrelson as the vessel’s eternally sozzled captain are standouts among a superb cast that has helped thrust the Swedish writer/director to the ranks of the dual-d’Or elite, alongside Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Haneke, the Dardennes and Ken Loach.


DIRECTOR: Gaspar Noé

PLOT: Gaspar Noé comes for your ageing parents in this pitiless yet emotionally powerful examination of fragile mortality (starring the Dario Argento).A retired psychologist (played mournfully by Françoise Lebrun, The Mother and the Whore, MIFF 2014) is now lost in late-stage dementia. She should be in care, but her selfish film-critic husband (giallo legend Argento in his first, and apparently last, on-screen role) insists he can manage – although he has heart trouble, and seems more invested in finishing his long-gestating book. Meanwhile, their deadbeat son can’t (even) help himself, let alone his parents who are getting on in years. A split screen dramatises this fractured family: filmed separately, they shuffle around their cluttered, shabby Paris apartment towards an undignified end. Debuting in 2021 as a Cannes Premiere title, Vortex is a change of pace for the French provocateur – whose past films include Climax (MIFF 2018), Love (MIFF 2015) and Enter the Void (MIFF 2010) – but maintains his interest in using formal experimentation to provoke and present viscerality, and to fiercely dramatise his characters’ interior states. If you felt Michael Haneke’s Amour (MIFF 2012) was too mild a portrait of elderly decline, settle in for this uncompromisingly forensic examination of human disconnection.


DIRECTOR: Gina Gammell & Riley Keough

PLOT: Set on a Native American reservation and made in collaboration with the Oglala Lakota community, Riley Keough and Gina Gammell’s Cannes Caméra d’Or winner is a distinctive, powerfully uplifting story of culture and coming of age. On South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation, charismatic twentysomething Bill is a rudderless entrepreneur doing his best to stay afloat in order to win back his girlfriend and support his growing family. To raise some much-needed cash, he ventures into breeding poodles and takes work off-reservation with a local wealthy rancher. Meanwhile, sweet, bookish 12-year-old Matho is forced to grow up faster than he can handle when his father abandons him, leaving him to make his own way in life. The two youngsters’ paths barely cross, but we witness their parallel trajectories – sharing in their humour, hardships, aspirations and joys. Keough (Zola, originally slated for MIFF 2021; The Girlfriend Experience) was struck by the idea for War Pony while on the set of Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, where she bonded with Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy, two young Pine Ridge men who were working as extras. Joined by Keough’s close friend and co-director Gina Gammell, the team developed the project across several years, working closely with the Oglala Lakota community from which the film’s stories are drawn. With hints of Gus Van Sant and Chloé Zhao’s The Rider (MIFF 2018), the result is a grippingly intimate tale of two spirited youths’ turbulent worlds.


DIRECTOR: Ari Folman

PLOT: A beguiling and big-hearted animated reimagining of Anne Frank’s story from the lauded director of Waltz With Bashir (MIFF 2008).The first feature film in eight long years from Israeli director Ari Folman (The Congress, MIFF 2013), Where Is Anne Frank approaches the famous Holocaust diary from the perspective of Kitty (voiced by Bridgerton’s Ruby Stokes), the imaginary girl to whom Anne addressed her correspondence. In this wondrous retelling, Kitty comes to life in modern Amsterdam and embarks on a time-hopping adventure to uncover the mystery of Anne’s whereabouts. As she searches for her friend, she discovers a whole host of other people who, like Anne, have been placed in an impossible situation. Depicting Anne’s world through a masterful blend of hand-drawn and stop-motion animation, Folman puts the diarist’s much-mythologised writing into dialogue with the present-day refugee crisis, examining how commemoration can reduce people to symbols – and the limits of compassion when faced with such iconography. Where Is Anne Frank is a breathtaking, timely work that melds fantasy and memory, history and hope, from one of our era’s most inventive screen storytellers.

Well, there you have it. These are the 38 films I’ll be seeing at MIFF 2022. Keep a look for my audio review podcasts for all these films over the course of the festival and also follow me at for my daily random thoughts/first reactions to them as well.

Article written by Bede Jermyn


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