The Monsters Eye,

Digging into the mind and black heart of MIFF 2013!

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I am sure there are many of you are positively buzzing at the thought of MIFF, fair enough too, there’s shit loads to be pumped about!

With the grisly delights of giallo and the MIFF Night Shift putting a spring into the stride of every bona fide freak this side of the Blue Ranges, we thought we’d have a chat to the brains trust behind the programming.

The Monsters Eye got stuck into the tough questions with Michelle Carey (Artistic Director) and Al Cossar (Programmer).

Read on and be amazed!!!

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Michelle Carey – Artistic Director, tackles some of our questions regarding the giallo films showcase!

There is a giallo showcase this year, where did that idea come from?
I have always wanted to do a giallo showcase but finding prints has been notoriously difficult. I saw a terrific giallo program at Anthology Film Archives in New York last year (curated by the Malastrana Film Series group) and was delighted to see that nearly all the films were available on 35mm. This gave me the impetus to rewatch a number of the giallo films and to seek out these prints.

Can you give us some in-sight into the choices of the giallo films chosen, there’s some real classics there?
In any such program, you needs a mix of known films and discoveries. Firstly I wanted to keep the time period to the late 60s, through the 70s and into the early 80s as this represents the classic giallo years. Once can’t do giallo without some of those classic Argento films. But I also wanted to show some films by directors who aren’t normally associated with this genre, such as Lucio Fulci (more known for his extreme gore classics such as Zombi 2 or The Beyond), Pupi Avati who works across a number of registers but is probably best known in Australia for middlebrow comedies of the 90s) and Elio Petri (known for political thrillers such as Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion). Then I also wanted to program the curio The Pyjama Girl Case because of the Australian connection. If there were more space I would have loved to have gone even broader to include some of the giallo antecedents such as Mario Bava’s Hitchockian thrillers.

What prints will be shown with the giallo films?
The prints – all in 35mm – are coming from all over the place. Park Circus have a beautiful print of A Quiet Place in the Country; Deep Red is coming from a private collector in the US, which seems to be the only 35mm print in circulation; The Pyjama Girl Case & The House of Laughing Windows are coming from the films’ distributors, Tenebrae and Don’t Torture a Duckling are both coming from the Cineteca Nazionale in Rome, both unsubtitled. We’ll be doing live subtitling of course, don’t fear! I should thank the lovely people at Malastrana Film Series for their help in finding print sources.

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Al Cossar – Programmer, gives us his insights into what goes into programming a festival of this size, as well as info on the Night Shift section!

Can you give us some insight into what goes into programming such a huge festival?

If I was to describe my state of mind at the time of festival launch in one word, it would be the following: caffeinated. So let’s start at the top by saying a lot of coffee, backed up no small degree of craziness. MIFF is a big project, but a small, amazing team – there are four of us in programming (and we’re supported by some wonderful viewing panelists), and a festival program this year of 310 films from 63 countries across 445 sessions. Building the program from the ground up is a year round goings-on; we end the festival in August, and start building the next in September – we visit overseas festivals, collaborate, negotiate and generally/just this side of legally stalk sales agents, distributors and filmmakers, receive submissions from all over the world with the end goal of taking over the city and hopefully pulling off some great times for film fans each July/August; our focus is different operationally at different times of the year, and we of course work closely at the level of the program and not the individual films, we look to build the context of a presentation, that there’s a range of geographic diversity, tone, form, that we reach out to people to bring them into what the festival does as well. And of course, enough deviantly-inclined bloodletting to satiate the tastes of the Monster staff for another year.

The Night Shift section has some great titles, perhaps for genre fans the stand out is Mark Hartley’s Patrick remake, what can you tell us about it?
Mark Hartley, as a devoted fan and someone who is of course an expert in telling the story of genre storytelling (via films of course including Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maidens Unleashed!) would seem like the ideal person to be helming a Patrick remake, and I’m happy to confirm, he is. The film is a reimagining rather than a remake, big gothic sensibility, great Pino Donaggio score that just sets it off, and it’s a wonderfully fun ride throughout. Rachel Griffiths give us a shifty matron for the ages. And between this and You’re Next (where it’s quite great to hear her Ocker accent in the middle of an American kind of carnage), it’s also time to celebrate the big screen scream-queen year of Sharni Vinson in genre film at the festival. Patrick’s also a film that we’re very proud has come through the MIFF Premiere Fund, and we’ll be presenting the World Premiere at the festival. Much excitement!

What are your personal recommendations for the Monster audience to check out?
Make sure you check out Cheap Thrills – this will be a great film to be in the room for – there’s been that “Haneke-meets-Jackass” description bandied round a few reviews, and there’s a grain of truth somewhere deep down there, enough to be hooked in by that curious tag. Extremely uncomfortable and generally extreme (and in a way kind of a nice genre-fied fantastical parallel to some of the films circling themes of have/have-nots and political inequality as well elsewhere in the program), with a killer last shot to boot, you can see why this one got the Midnighters Audience Award at SXSW this year. A Field In England – medieval psychedelica from the always awesome Ben Wheatley. Blue Ruin – don’t go past this film, it’s a funny, extremely tense piece of blackly, bloody comic revenge straight from Cannes that’s going to play great to a packed room too. And The Dance of Reality – the first Jodorowsky in 23 years has been a long, crazy time coming, and delivers, delivers, delivers.

The Monsters Eye would like to thank both Michelle and Al for taking the time out to speak with us.

Get your MIFF tickets at the official website – MIFF.com.au

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