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Published July 24, 2015

The Melbourne International Film Festival is fast approaching, and as usual, Pop Culture-y is in on the action. Here are the five feature films we’re most excited to see at this year’s MIFF:

 

Gayby Baby

Directed by Maya Newell (Australia).

Meet Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham, 10- to 12-year-olds each coping with growing up. As they navigate challenges of school, sport, friends and their futures, they do so within loving homes and with caring parents – who happen to be gay or lesbian.

In all the debate on equal marriage, an all too common argument against is that having parents of the same sex is damaging for children. But has anyone asked the children? Director Maya Newell, also a “gayby”, crafts a portrait of four young adolescents’ childhood, giving a platform to the children that are so often used as political bludgeons.

The topic of this film makes it automatically interesting – I’m really interested to actually find out what these children actually think. Amongst a sea of documentaries about how fat people are and how everything is killing us, Gayby Baby‘s topic is a genuinely different and thoughtful one. I’d actually love to see a 7-Up kind of series in which these children are visited again at a later point in their lives, and we see how they and their opinions have changed.

There’s also a special panel discussion on Wednesday 5th August.

Gayby Baby
Gayby Baby

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Directed by Mary Dore (USA).

Beginning with the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and tracing the never-straightforward path of the US women’s liberation movement through to the 1970 Women’s Strike for Equality, director Mary Dore (The Good Fight, MIFF 1985) delivers an inspiring, articulate film about one of the defining movements in modern history.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a feminist, and this looks to be an intriguing and enlightening documentary. Second-wave feminism is probably the most iconic feminism, featuring burning bras, calls for equal pay and much more. But what really happened? That’s what I think She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry will look at: it promises that it will look at both the successes and the failures of the second-wave feminism movement, providing a timely conclusion on how we need feminism in these modern times.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Wonderful World End

Directed by Daigo Matsui, Japan.

Wonderful World End is about 17-year-old Shiori, a Gothic-Lolita cosplaying model who twitcasts for her burgeoning legion of fans, and her intense friendship with shy 13-year-old runaway Ayumi.

There are not enough films featuring female friendships, which is why Wonderful World End looks so great. The trailer is really fun too – director Daigo Matsui has directed music videos for J-pop singer Seiko Oomori, who also stars in the film, and that vibrant, colourful world carries through to the film. It’s a distinctly 21st century film, with healthy doses of social media, pop music and the “commodification of teenage identity.”

Wonderful World End
Wonderful World End

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

Directed by Bill Plympton, Gaetan Brizzi, Joan Gratz, Joann Sfar, Michal Socha, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Nina Paley, Paul Brizzi, Roger Allers, Tomm Moore (Canada, France, Lebanon, Qatar, USA).

A young girl follows her mother to work one day to meet the man she cares for: a charismatic, wise poet who has been under house arrest for seven years due to his “rebellious” writing. The poet is released, and on a trip to the port he delivers lessons to the girl on the topics of freedom, life, love and death.

I feel like I don’t really need to explain why this looks so delightful. It’s composed of vignettes from a host of directors, and features the voices of Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek and John Krasinski. The effect is a dreamy, gorgeous-looking film, with a top notch story.

Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

The Assassin

Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan).

In ninth-century China, 10-year-old Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) is stolen away from her father, trained to become an assassin, and tasked with eliminating corrupt governors. But 13 years later, her past comes calling: after disappointing her master by failing to complete a mission, Nie is sent back to her family with orders to kill the cousin (Chang Chen) she was once betrothed to.

I’m a sucker for wuxia, and this sounds amazing. Sure, the plot isn’t anything incredibly new and original – that’s martial arts films for you – but it still looks brilliant. Just look.

The Assassin
The Assassin

 

Those are our top five – what films are you excited to see?

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