MIFF 2018 picks for booklovers
Every year, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) program features some great films inspired by literature. Here are some of our favourite books (and one short story) that will be shown on the big screen this year.
Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
Charley, a teen living with his single father, finds work caring for an aging racehorse named Lean on Pete. When he learns Pete is bound for slaughter, the two embark on an odyssey across the new American frontier in search of a place to call home. Writer/director Andrew Haigh has adapted the novel for the big screen in a tender take on the boy-and-his-horse genre, as well as a clear-eyed road trip through the struggles and troubles of America’s midwest.
Wildlife by Richard Ford
Actor Paul Dano makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Richard Ford’s coming-of-age novel about a teen boy who watches the slow destruction of his parents' marriage in 1960s Montana. At 14 years old, Jerry is a quiet and observant teen. His parents are drifting apart – his mother fumbling with the expanding female world of 1960s America; and his father struggling with what it means to be a man who can’t hold down a job or support his family – are drifting apart. When his dad leaves to fight a nearby wildfire, it’s the last straw.
We the Animals by Justin Torres
In a decrepit house deep in the woods of upstate New York, Jonah and his two older brothers live a seemingly idyllic existence of wildness, exploration and adventure, overseen by their doting white mother and domineering Puerto Rican father. But as the long summer stretches on, Jonah is forced to terms with the violent fractures in his own family, and a simmering self-awareness that will forever set him apart. Documentarian Jeremiah Zagar makes a remarkably assured transition to feature filmmaking in this lush and dream-like offering.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Emily M. Danforth’s acclaimed young adult novel is the story of a recently orphaned adolescent girl who is caught in a relationship with another girl, and promptly shipped off to a ‘pray the gay away’ camp for conversion therapy. Director Desiree Akhavan – who has previously lamented the lack of queer John Hughes films when she was growing up – brings this story to the big screen in a film that’s equal parts humble, heartbreaking, compassionate and wry.
Trespass by Rose Tremain
Dark River is the bold, brooding and mesmerising new offering from Clio Barnard, who has credited Rose Tremain’s acclaimed 2010 novel as the film’s inspiration. Trespass is a tale of familial and class conflict in rural France, and while the film departs from the original story in dramatic ways (for example, it’s now set in Yorkshire), at heart both book and film are unsettling portraits of sibling resentment that explore the effects of childhood abuse.
Another Day of Life by Ryszard Kapuściński
Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński’s experiences during the 1975 Angolan civil war are documented in his acclaimed memoir, Another Day of Life. With their film of the same name, co-writers and directors Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow recreate his harrowing three-month journey across the war-torn country in graphic novel-style segments – as interspersed with live-action testimony from survivors of the period.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
Justice Fiona Maye is a judge of the High Court, a woman whose decisions can literally make or break people’s lives. When she’s presented with the case of a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who is refusing to have the blood transfusion that will save his life, she decides to visit him in hospital, spurring an unlikely friendship. Author Ian McEwan has adapted his novel for the screen himself, and the film is directed by directorial luminary Richard Eyre and stars Emma Thompson in a knock-out performance.
Picnic At Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Peter Weir’s adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel looms larger in the Australian psyche than the Rock itself. This year, MIFF once again presents it on the big screen as part of their Fashion X Cinema program stream celebrating iconic fashion in cinema. If you’re yet to see this classic, and indeed, read the original story, now is the perfect opportunity. Set in 1900, it’s the story of a group of female students at an Australian girls' boarding school who inexplicably vanish at Hanging Rock while on a Valentine’s Day picnic.
Acute Misfortune by Erik Jensen
When 19-year-old wunderkind journalist Erik Jensen was invited by bad-boy Australian painter Adam Cullen to write his biography, Jensen jumped at the chance. Despite a turbulent relationship, the two formed a unique bond that lasted until Cullen’s death in 2012 aged just 46. Making his debut as a feature film filmmaker, theatre director and actor Thomas M. Wright brings Jensen’s biography of Cullen to the screen.
‘Barn Burning’ from The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
South Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong adapts Haruki Murakami’s short story of romantic longing into a thriller starring Korean heart-throb Yoo Ah-in and The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun. In a perfectly paced 148 minutes, Burning goes from romantic character piece to exquisitely poised thriller.