Melbourne 2013: Strong Asian Lineup from Cannes Acquisitions And More!

The timing of the Melbourne International Film Festival is magical. Positioned soon after Cannes, the programmers have done a stellar job of sourcing the best films from the Croisette. This is a relief. After last year's poorer effort at representing New Wave Asian Cinema, this year sees it out in full force! It is a genuinely exciting line-up of the best of Cannes, albeit with a few caveats.

There are a whopping twenty nine acquisitions in total but here are the Asian film highlights:

Anthony Chen's Camera d'Or winner Ilo Ilo (Singapore), the stirring tale of a Singaporean family who take in a Filipino woman as a live-in maid.

MIFF staple Kore-eda Hirokazu's Jury Prize winner Like Father Like Son (Japan), exploring themes of responsibility and what it means to be a father.

I am however most excited for Jia Zhangke's best Screenplay winner, A Touch of Sin (China), a confronting character-driven tale of modern China and the domestic conflict its new found wealth has wrought.

Also very excited for Hong Kong indie Bends; this debut features an affluent housewife (Hong Kong star Carina Lau) and Fai (Chen Kun) as her chauffeur, and their unexpected friendship as they each negotiate the pressures of Hong Kong life and the city's increasingly complex relationship to mainland China. Bends is reported to have brilliant cinematography reminiscent of old-school Christopher Doyle.

Further afield there is perhaps too much to mention, so aside from some Sydney Film Festival picks that have ended up at MIFF, I will briefly mention the Australian premieres I am most excited about.

French auteur Clare Denis' (35 Shots of Rum, MIFF 2008) Bastards, a gripping family drama about the aftermath of a wealthy patriarch's suicide; and Winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize. 

Also from Un Certain Regard, MIFF will screen Fruitvale Station, inspired by a senseless police shooting in Oakland in 2009, and awarded the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance and rave reviews.

From Directors' Fortnight at Cannes, MIFF will screen writer/director Serge Bozon's Tip Top, a farcical riff on corruption, race and S&M starring Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain; Blue Ruin, a FIPRESCI Prize winner at Cannes about a vagrant who puts himself on a path of bloody revenge.

I'm very excited also with the inclusion of Ari Folman's The Congress, a combined live action and animated feature from the director of Waltz With Bashir. Also from Directors' Fortnight, MIFF will screen The Dance of Reality, the return of the master of trippy psychedelia - Alejandro Jodorowsky - after a 23-year filmmaking hiatus.

Also sure to divide audiences is 3x3D, a triptych exploring the evolution of 3D Cinema with contributions from Peter Greenaway, Jean-Luc Godard and Edgar Pêra. Last but not least is writer/director David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as an outlaw couple.

Now for the caveats - you can't win them all, but was hoping for... Inside Llewyn Davis, Borgman, Young & Beautiful, Shield of Straw, Heli and Only Lovers Left Alive but this certainly makes the rest of the year something to look forward to when these films do hit.

Most disappointing however is the exclusion of Palme D'or winner, Blue Is The Warmest Color - something I cannot wait for, but will unfortunately have to, at least for a little while longer.

What an incredible line-up, the 25th July cannot come soon enough. Stay tuned to Twitch for more on Melbourne 2013 as it develops!

Editor's note: Because, bizarrely, the festival hasn't put this announcement on its website, here's a link to a site with the full list of Cannes selections.
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