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What we're seeing at MIFF 2016

Our picks from 2016 MIFF

How good is MIFF? Every year we look forward to the late nights and long queues of MIFF. It's one of those yearly events that really plays to the strengths of Melbourne as a film production hub and all round city of good taste.

Below is a selection of what we are heading out to see over the next two weeks.

Whilst many of the premiere screenings have sold out, there are still seats available for the second chance screenings. Check out the MIFF website for the full program.

Weiner

In 2011, US Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner was caught in a sexting scandal, sending explicit pictures of himself to multiple women. His wife – Huma Abedin, top aide to Hillary Clinton – stood by her husband during the controversy, and when Weiner resigned from Congress it appeared to all be over. But it was just beginning. Weiner launched a comeback in 2013, running for mayor of New York, and it was during this race that the second scandal broke, one that was even more extraordinary than the first.

Filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg received unprecedented access to Anthony Weiner during his mayoral campaign, capturing the furore as it threatens to undo his bid for office. Their film doesn't just examine Weiner, but also the corrosive culture of American politics and the endless echo chamber of media commentary. (Source: MIFF)

Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie

When inimitable British broadcaster Louis Theroux wanted to know what life was really like inside the Church of Scientology, he went straight to the source. They wouldn't let him in the door, so with the assistance of their former second-in-command, Mark "Marty" Rathbun, he did the next best thing. Hiring actors to play influential Scientologists such as Tom Cruise and leader David Miscavige, he staged re-enactments of infamous events in the church's history. (Source: MIFF)

A War

Picking up an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, A War finds writer/director Tobias Lindholm (director of A Hijacking, MIFF 2013; co-writer of The Hunt, MIFF 2012; and contributing writer for hit Danish series Borgen) once again pondering good men under duress, this time intricately grappling with the question of what it means to be a good soldier.

Claus Pedersen (Lindholm regular Pilou Asbæk, soon to be seen in Game of Thrones) is the compassionate but pragmatic commander of a NATO unit in Afghanistan, trying to keep his men safe on the ground while back in Denmark his wife Maria is trying to keep their family together on her own. When Claus makes a split-second call in the heat of battle, the shock waves will follow him all the way home. (Source: MIFF)

Zero Days

Academy Award winning (for 2007's Taxi to the Dark Side) documentarian Alex Gibney (Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, MIFF 2015; Finding Fela!, MIFF 2014) turns his fine-tuned investigative eye to the frightening world of state-sponsored cyber warfare.

In 2010, IT experts discovered the Stuxnet virus, which had purposely disabled enrichment centrifuges at Iran's Natanz nuclear plant. Too complex to be the work of a single hacker, the program was traced to a joint US–Israeli intelligence operation codenamed Olympic Games. State-backed Iranian hackers retaliated by infecting the Bank of America with an equally devastating piece of malware, which corrupted systems all over the world. In a few keystrokes, a Pandora's box of cyber warfare was opened, and there's no treaty in sight. (Source: MIFF)

Notes on Blindness

In 1983, facing complete blindness after years of deterioration in his eyesight, Melbourne-born academic John Hull attempted to come to terms with this "world beyond sight" by recording hours of his thoughts and feelings onto audio cassette across a period of three years. The tapes offer a revealing and often heartbreaking account of a life in upheaval, particularly when Hull tries to describe his newborn son, whom he cannot see.

Using these recordings as their basis, writer/directors James Spinney and Peter Middleton expand upon their award-winning short film, Notes on Blindness Rainfall (MIFF 2013), and employ actors to recreate Hull's journey, creating a fascinating hybrid documentary cinema that is visually and aurally immersive. The resulting work is both deeply moving and a compelling exploration of the medium's potential. (Source: MIFF)

The Handmaiden

Double-crosses fly and identities morph in The Handmaiden, MIFF favourite Park Chan-wook's (Stoker, MIFF 2013) erotically charged adaptation of Sarah Waters' Booker Prize-nominated sapphic opus,Fingersmith. Transposing the Victorian setting of the original into a vividly realised and sumptuously shot 1930s Korea, Park delivers a work of razor-sharp humour and unexpected pleasures that will have you guessing until the final piece of clothing drops to the floor. (Source: MIFF)

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