By Joseph DeMarini
It’s the first week of August, and the annual Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is in full swing around the city. Established in 1952, it’s the largest screen festival in Australia and one of the oldest festivals in the world. Though the festival showcases films from around the world, there are a fair few from Australia as well. In honor of the festival, consider this post a primer on some popular Australian films.
My favorite Australian director is Baz Luhrmann, who is known for his colourful and somewhat over-the-top direction. His first film, Strictly Ballroom, is one of my mother’s favorite films, and I would listen to the soundtrack all the time when I was a child: stellar soundtracks are another of Luhrmann’s hallmarks in cinema, and each of his films has continued this pattern. My favorite of his films is Moulin Rouge!, which takes place at the turn of the 20th century, but uses reimaginings of modern songs—the best being “El Tango de Roxanne,” a Latin take on the classic “Roxanne” by The Police. He also directed a version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which turned the tragedy into a mafia war between two spiteful families living in the mythical Verona Beach.
The most recent Australian director to dominate the popular conscience is probably George Miller, the director and creator of the Mad Max franchise. In 2015, he released Mad Max: Fury Road, and was met with widespread critical acclaim, with many people calling it the best action film in recent memory. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards (American film awards, also called Oscars)—including Best Director and Best Picture—and won six for numerous production achievements. With these six awards, Fury Road now holds the record for most Oscars taken home by an Australian film, shattering the three-award record set in 1993 by The Piano.
If these movies are a little too “blockbuster” for you, don’t panic, cause there are plenty of independent films from Australia, too. To really dig into the culture of the country and its blossoming cinema scene, catching a few screenings at the MIFF could be incredibly helpful. The festival runs from July 30th until August 14th, and more information about the festival and show times can be found at miff.com.au. Happy viewing!