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Catch MIFF 2021 Online August 5-22 in Lockdown

MIFF 2021 (Melbourne International Film Festival) 5-22 August can be enjoyed online, after the cinema and drive-in component had to be cancelled due to COVID. For those in lockdown the online festival on MIFF Play is a tonic we all needed.

With an astonishing lineup of 282 international and Australian films and transformative screen experiences, MIFF presents 198 feature films, 84 shorts and 10 XR experiences, with 62 films available on MIFF Play – the festival’s online screening platform.

The program kicked off with CODA – winner of four Sundance awards but the line-up of fantastic cinematic experiences does not end there (cherry on top that readers can see these in the comfort of their own home!!).

Here are some great suggestions below that you might like to include but you can find the full program available here.

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Set! – delving into the ruthless world of competitive table-setting (you read that right) - it’s knives at 20 places. You might think setting the table before a meal is just a practicality, maybe an outdated ostentatious ceremony, or even a chore. But, within a subculture of dedicated ‘tablescapers’, table-setting is a serious competitive pursuit. Their elaborate, innovatively themed creations reveal their artistry; sometimes, they even make bold statements. And as nine competitors prepare for the Orange County Fair – considered the ‘Olympics of table-setting’ – the pressure is on to position themselves as the finest of their kind around.

Freshman Year - hailed as the Gen Z Before Sunrise this film is American indie filmmaking at its most charming. It finds tender romance in youthful self-discovery and is a relatable, awkward comedy. Having won Narrative Feature Grand Jury Award at last year’s virtual SXSW festival, this film is a promising debut of 23 year old (!) writer-director Cooper Raiff who also stars in the film.

The Beloved –This epic and at times eerie documentary illuminates the Rajneesh sannyasin movement in 1980s Fremantle, as told by those who lived through it. This is the very same movement, colloquially known as “the orange people”, covered in Netflix’s smash hit doco series Wild Wild Country - right here in Australia in 1980s suburban Fremantle.

Come Back Anytime - This film will have you unable to resist this tantalising story of master ramen chef and his legendary Tokyo noodle shop, the self-taught Masamoto Ueda. For more than four decades, he and his wife have run the Tokyo noodle bar Bizentei where his famous soy-based ramen dishes to dedicated patrons has become an intimate place of community. Evoking the sweet, gentle quality of both the cuisine and the man behind it, the film takes us through a year in the lives of Ueda and his devoted clientele which was a crowd favourite at Hot Docs 2021.

Coming Home In The Dark - For one family, a wholesome trip to New Zealand’s remote countryside turns into the stuff of nightmares. Mild-mannered schoolteacher Hoaggie and his wife, Jill, set out with their teenage sons on a hiking excursion to an idyllic nature reserve. There, they cross paths with the psychopathic Mandrake (an intimidating Daniel Gillies, The Vampire Diaries) and his accomplice, Tubs, who are all too happy to demonstrate how the enjoyment of seclusion can swiftly turn into entrapment. Taken captive by the murderous drifters, they must figure out how to escape unscathed – and what evil has put them in this situation in the first place.

MIFF XR The festival’s first public online XR space – where audiences can meet, gather, mingle and discuss their experiences online – is a digitised replication of Festival Partner, The Capitol – RMIT University. Audiences from across the world are invited to come together in a fully immersive rendering of Melbourne’s iconic cinema, with its magnificent interior brought to life in spectacular 3D. Visitors can dive into one of MIFF’s incredible XR offerings, resurfacing to chat through their experience, before they move into another transformative world. With nine XR experiences on offer – from leading Australian artists and MIFF alumni to international filmmakers and voice cast such as Charlotte Rampling and Edward Norton – there’s hours of immersive entertainment to be had.

MIFF’s closing night film is Language Lessons, which will screen online via MIFF Festival on the night of 21 August Co-writers Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales depict a modern-age bond in this touching SXSW Audience Award–winning film, told entirely across screens. Adam (Duplass) lives in Oakland, California, with his husband, who has signed him up for two years’ worth of weekly Spanish classes. The lessons are taught online by Cariño (Morales), who is in Costa Rica. Adam’s not quite sure how these classes fit into his laissez-faire, leisurely lifestyle, but when the unexpected upends everything, Cariño becomes the friend Adam didn’t think he’d need.

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