MIFF 2017

For three weeks in August the Melbourne cinemas open their doors to films from all over the world at Melbourne International Film Festival. See our pick of Storie From The Other Europe.


D Andrey Zvyagintsev FranceBelgiumGermanyRussia (2017)

From the director of Elena screened at Euraw Stories last year, comes “a razor-sharp portrayal of a marriage in a state of collapse, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s searing drama was awarded top prize at the Munich Film Festival as well as the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Boris and Zhenya’s relationship is all but over. Caught in a spiral of vicious slanging matches and eager to be in the company of their new lovers, the only thing keeping them together is their 12-year-old son, Alyosha. When he doesn’t come home one night, the sparring couple are forced into an increasingly desperate search, with the lovelessness of their marriage mirrored by the indifference of the society around them.”



D Agnieszka Holland PolandGermanySwedenCzech RepublicSlovakia (2017)

“Agnieszka Holland, one of Poland’s most distinguished directors, won the Berlinale’s Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize with this feminist, ecological thriller sprinkled with surreal touches.

Duszejko is a retired engineer living in a log cabin in a remote, mountainous corner of rural Poland. Obsessed with astrology, and ferociously protective of the local wildlife – especially when it comes to the area’s deer hunters, who have the police and even the church on their side – Duszejko is aghast when her dogs go missing and, in the following months, a series of hunters are found dead. Could nature itself be taking revenge?”



D Kornél Mundruczó GermanyHungary (2017)

“The superhero genre collides with the rolling tragedy of Europe’s refugee crisis in previous Cannes award-winner Kornél Mundruczó’s action-packed assault on tribalism, human indecency and the basic laws of gravity.

Aryan is a Syrian refugee trying to make the dangerous journey from Serbia into Hungary – and the protection of the EU. When he’s shot by an overzealous immigration cop as he crosses the border, Aryan suddenly discovers he can fly. It’s a power that could change everything for him and his family, but people fear what they don’t know, and the authorities will do whatever they need in order to neutralise a perceived threat.”



D Jan Hřebejk Czech RepublicSlovakia (2016)

“Jan Hřebejk returns to MIFF with a darkly funny Czech primary school take on 12 Angry Men, featuring an award-winning turn by Zuzana Maurery as the titular teacher.

In the dying days of communist Czechoslovakia, the chilling Comrade Drazdechova (Zuzana Maurery) rules over her high school with cunning and corruption. The rules are simple: you help her out, your children do well. You don’t? Well, life can be hard for those deemed enemies of the state. But hers is a fragile empire, and when she tries to blackmail the wrong parent, those she’s wronged rise up against her.”



D Călin Peter Netzer Romania (2017)

From the Director of Child’s Pose screened in April at Euraw Stories comes a new, “intellectually complex, emotionally harrowing dissection of the travails of a long-term relationship.” – Screen Daily

In a psychoanalyst’s clinic, Toma recounts the euphoria and dysfunction of his relationship with Ana; their shared affection and desire whittled away by her depressive tendencies and his issues with jealousy and control, each seemingly doomed to repeat their own parents’ destructive dynamics.”



D Dorota KobielaHugh Welchman UKPoland (2017)

“Over 62,000 oil paintings and a cast including Chris O’Dowd and Saoirse Ronan bring the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s life and death to the screen in the world’s first feature-length painted animation.

It sounds mad: inspired by a letter Vincent Van Gogh penned in the week before he died, in which he noted that “we cannot speak other than by our paintings”, Oscar-winning filmmaker Hugh Welchman (Peter and the Wolf) and Polish painter Dorota Kobiela decided to make a movie doing exactly that. Hiring an army of painters from across Europe, each trained in the Dutch master’s style, they set out to tell his story the way he himself would. Consequently, every single frame of the resulting film, Loving Vincent, is an oil painting (12 per second!); the noir-like detective plot is drawn from the artist’s many letters; and the cast – O’Dowd and Ronan alongside Douglas Booth, Helen McCrory, Aidan Turner and more, with music by Clint Mansell – were chosen based on their likeness to real-life characters in Van Gogh’s works.”



Other titles worth seeing:

AFTERIMAGE – Poland (2016) D Andrej Wajda

A GENTLE CREATURE – Lithuania (2017) D Sergei Loznitsa 

HOSTAGES – Georgia/ Russia/ Poland (2017) D Rezo Gigineishvili

LIBERATION DAY – Latvia/ Poland (2016) D Morten Traavik

THE LAST FAMILY – Poland (2016) D Jan P. Matuszyński

WESTERN – Bulgaria (2017) D Valeska Grisebach 

PARTISAN on the 3rd of September


Drama 94 min MA
Director: Ariel Kleiman
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Jeremy Chabriel
Awards: Sundance 2015 (Grand Jury Prize Nomination), 8 AACTA Nominations

Alexander is like any other kid: playful, curious and naive. He is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise on the outskirts of town, Alexander has grown up seeing the world through the eyes of his father, Gregori. As Alexander begins to think for himself, creeping fears take shape and Gregori’s idyllic world unravels.
Featuring international superstar Vincent Cassel  (BLACK SWAN) as the enigmatic, menacing Gregori, PARTISAN is a taut thriller from one of cinema’s freshest new voices.

Book tickets for this screening.

Screening at Performance Space at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands.

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The comforts of female friendship

In Bloom is not the first nor the last story about female friendship in modern patriarchal cultures (Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels come to mind), but our next EuRaw Stories film comes from a world most of us are not familiar with: Georgia during the civil war of the early 90s.

Filmmaker Nana Ekvtimishvili grew up in Tbilisi and the film emerged from memories of a childhood in the chaos of post-Soviet Union times.

First time actresses Lika Babluani and Mariam Bokeria are unlikely to leave you unmoved. There is a lot of ‘showing not telling’ throughout the film, which helps audiences connect with the two young women, guessing at complex emotions that even they seem to be just working out.

One scene screams out loud the reality of that world: while the two friends queue for bread one day, Natia gets ‘bride kidnapped’ ( a practice now illegal in Georgia, but still practiced in some parts of the world) by one her suitors, Kote. The impassive queuers mind their own business, which suggests this is the done thing and it doesn’t require special intervention.

The film doesn’t take sides. The focus is on the two female heroines, but everyone, including the matcho agressive young men, is a victim at the mercy of a tough, insecure and chaotic world, reinforcing the violence of these times, these parts.

There is so much poetry in In Blooms’s everyday, in the friendship between the two girls, in the stolen moments of laughter. All this is balanced with the ferocius energy of the  background, the regular reminders that this is not a peaceful world and its violence creeps into the quotidian scanes of family live or classroom attendance.

In Bloom screens this coming Sunday at 2.30pm at Library at the Docks. Get your pass to see it now.



In Bloom Screening on July the 2nd

IN BLOOM10653742_10153057790689989_1567005238945577880_n
Georgia 2014
Drama 102 min
Director: Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Gross
Cast: Lika Babluani, Mariam Bokeria
Awards: 2014 Academy Awards selection (Best Foreign Language Film) & Winner of BEST FILM at: Berlin Film Fest, Sarjevo Film Fest, Hong King Film Fest, Milan Film Fest

Celebrated by critics and audiences at over 30 major international film festivals, Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross’ multi award-winning IN BLOOM depicts the unforgettable story of two young girls navigating the complex ties of friendship, love and family within a world of upheaval.

Tbilisi, 1992: the newly independent state of Georgia must fend for itself, even as civil war rages in the provinces. For 14 year-old best friends Eka (Lika Babluani) and Natia (Mariam Bokeria), their childhood in the run-down but still beautiful city has come to an abrupt halt, as insecurity and fear of what the future might bring holds sway in everyday life.

The introverted Eka lives in a book-filled apartment with her dismissive sister and her distracted mother; the precocious Natia, just becoming aware of her appeal to the local boys, lives in the chaotic atmosphere of a cramped apartment with her extended working-class family, dominated by her alcoholic father. But like most schoolgirls, Eka and Natia are far more concerned with the drama of teenage life outside their homes.

Indeed Natia has already attracted not only the attention of handsome Lado but also local criminal Kote, who is not going to tolerate rivals without a fight. It is the gift by Lado to Natia of a pistol, something to ‘protect herself with’, that fractures the lives of both girls and tests their relationship, as each responds to pressures beyond their control in very different and life-changing ways.

Drawn from writer & debut co-director Nana Ekvtimishvili’s childhood memories, IN BLOOM has the rich texture of authentic lived experience. Anchored by radiant performances and beautiful cinematography by the renowned Oleg Mutu (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), this gripping and profoundly affecting film marks the directors as among the most exciting new talents in world cinema.

Book tickets for this screening.

Screening at Performance Space at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands.

What Pussy Riot did next…and why we should care

Art activism is not something that Pussy Riot invented a few years ago. But they certainly took it to new levels. If you think that the young Russian women were only after their fifteen minutes of fame, you’re probably wrong.

The former members of Pussy Riot have continued their politics of subversion with projects that advocate for freedom of expression.

And here is what they did next…

Zona Prava

Once out of prison, they formed an NGO, Zona Prava, to support the rights of prisoners in Russia. They provide legal information and support to Russian prisoners, to ensure transparency and humane conditions in the jutsice system.

Took the US by storm

PR and HillaryThey took their agenda internationally, and presented at the Women World Summit in New York in 2014. (Hillary Clinton was a fan and called them ‘brave and strong’). A few months later, they lobbied the US Senate for sanctions against human rights abuses in Russia. They then went to Harvard University to talk about their trial and the challenges of political activism in Russia.  They protested on the streets of New York and made a strong music video when Eric Garner’s died after a police officer illegally as an illegally chokeheld him.

Made Trump their next activism target

At the end of 2016, they released ‘Make America great again’, a song that satirises what the United States could become under Trump. Both Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina (two of the Pussy Riot members who went to prison) have their writing published in Foreign Policy, The Guardian, and other prestigious publications. The world is taking them and their protest seriously.

In a place like Russia, art is politics, and Pussy Riot have refined that and brought it to the world. Pussy Riot and their protest are as relevant today as they were in 2012.

Join us for the documentary that explores the group’s roots and introduces you to its charismatic and highly driven members.

Get your pass now.


Cinema from Central, Eastern Europe and the Balkans