By Indiewire | Indiewire July 24, 2003 at 2:00AM
Cannes Pix Among Films Headlining 2003 Melbourne Fest
by Eugene Hernandez
The 52nd Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) kicked off in Australia yesterday with a screening of Sue Brooks' "Japanese Story." The Cannes debut, starring Toni Collette, was produced by local Sue Maslin. It was acquired by Samuel Golwdyn for release in the U.S. Also on opening night, the festival showcased Melbourne filmmaker Adam Elliot's claymation short, "Harvie Krumpet." Australian Gregor Jordan's "Buffalo Soldiers," opening in the United States this weekend, will close the festival on August 10. Glendyn Ivin's "Cracker Bag," which won the Palme d'Or for best short this year, will also screen on closing night.
Among the curated programs of spotlight films playing in Melbourne this year are "Brain Monkey Sushi: Raw Japanese Cinema," looking at "new films capturing the essence of genre-busting, relentlessly creative new Japanese cinema," while the "Frìssons: Uncompromising French Film" program "journeys into the far reaches of the chaos of sexuality, fantasy, neo-libertines and other hidden fringes in contemporary French film." Other programs offer work from women in Asia and the Middle East, a program of Bollywood titles, and new Russian cinema.
Twenty films from the Festival de Cannes will screen at this year's Melbourne festival. Among those screening will be Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Uzak" (Distant) from Turkey, Francois Ozon's "Swimming Pool," "The Time of the Wolf" from Michael Haneke, Roger Michell's "The Mother," and Richard Schickel's "Charlie: the Life and Art of Charles Chaplin." From the Cannes Un Certain Regard section, the Melbourne fest will show Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's "American Splendor" and Jafar Panahi's "Crimson Gold."
"I am thrilled that we are able to present a range of distinctive films direct from Cannes to round out what is, in my estimation, an exceptional 2003 MIFF program," said festival executive director James Hewison. "Cannes is always an exhilarating experience, and to be able to secure these films so quickly is a sign of faith on the part of those filmmakers in the Melbourne International Film Festival."
A special panel discussion has been added for this Sunday, looking at the recent troubles faced by Larry Clark's "Ken Park" at the Sydney Film Festival. Critics David Stratton and Julie Rigg as well as festival director Hewison will talk about the impact of the film being banned. "How much does this case inform the present state of censorship in Australia where the only screenings of this film have been clandestine and illegal? What does the future hold?" asks the panel description.
[For more information, please visit: http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au.]