i-D's smart, stylish, and sexy guide to MIFF
From drag racing in Palestine to hip-hop in Brooklyn: here's everything you've gotta see at MIFF.
mya taylor in tangerine
This year's Melbourne International Film Festival doesn't shy away from the unorthodox and unseen. i-D explored the festival's fringes to find the films you've got to see: from unflinching explorations of sex work, disability and assault to glowing celebrations of music, style and 3D sex. Spread across a ton of Melbourne venues, you can grab tickets here.
Tangerine (Dir. Sean Baker)
Shot entirely on iPhones, Tangerine tells the story of Sin-Dee (newcomer Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) an L.A sex worker who gets out of a 28 day stint in jail only to hear her boyfriend cheated while she was gone. She sets out to see if the rumours are true with the help of Alexandra, played by Mya Taylor-a trans woman who Baker befriended at the Hollywood LGBTQ centre. Refreshingly, Baker actually listened to sex workers and transwomen while creating his film, and their experiences fill the film with realism and honesty. Tangerine is overdue, to say the least.
The Smell of Us (Dir. Larry Clark)
Larry Clark, now 71, is still telling the stories of skaters and teenagers. This time, he's focusing on a band of teens in Paris and though The Smell of Us has been hailed at Kids flown to France, that's not quite right. Youth culture has moved online in the 20 years since Larry's iconic debut, a fact he doesn't ignore, making texting and smartphone filmmaking an integral part of the movie. While adults barely featured in Kids, they play an important role The Smell of Us. If you're expecting the same punch in the stomach Kids delivered, you'll get it.
Love (Dir. Gaspar Noé)
In an interview with Marfa Jornal the French director Gaspar Noé said he hoped that when watching Love "guys will have erections and girls will get wet". If that doesn't make you eager to buy a ticket-at least to test the veracity of Gaspar's claim-his CV might. Irreversible and Enter the Void are similarly perverse films crafted by the auteur. Love follows an American man's sexual transgressions with two beautiful Parisian women. By the way, it's in 3D.
Mistress America (Dir. Noah Baumbach)
This smart comedy was written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach of Frances Ha fame. Greta stars as Brooke, a New York gal doing it all (sort of). She's joined onscreen by Lola Kirke, the little sister of Girls actress Jemina Kirke. Lola plays Tracy, Brooke's future sister in law. The pair cavort around New York in an insightful look at entering-and exiting-your twenties.
Margarita, With A Straw (Dir. Shonali Bose)
This coming of age story follows the vivacious Laila as she moves from India to attend New York University. Off in the big city, she explores politics, independence, and sexuality. Laila has cerebral palsy, but her disability isn't really the point of the film, which thankfully never ventures into inspiration porn. Instead, it's a charming look at growing up and coming out.
Dope (Dir. Rick Famuyiwa)
Described as equal parts "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Boyz n the Hood", Rick Famuyiwa's genre defying coming of age story set in present day Inglewood, has been an i-D 'one to watch' since its splashy debut at Sundance. 90s obsessed, nerdy high school senior Malcolm (newcomer Shameik Moore), crosses paths with local drug dealer Dom (A$AP Rocky) and chaos ensues. Co-starring Zoe Kravitz as the object of Malcolm's affection with cameos from the 'who's who' of LA's gen z rap scene, Dope lives up to the hype....oh and executive producer Pharrell WIlliams has curated a killer soundtrack.
Fresh Dressed (Dir. Sacha Jenkins)
The hip-hop style chronicles explores how the fresh look crafted by African American kids landed in the hands of fashion's elite. The music-heavy documentary is backed by in-depth interviews with icons like Kanye West, Nas Jones, Pharrell and Andre Leon Talley. It's comprehensive, fun and above all, fresh.
Gayby Baby (Dir. Maya Newell)
This crowd-funded Australian documentary follows four kids (Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham) who all have gay parents, a fact they each grapple with very differently. Maya Newell's own parents and gay, and in an interview with VICE she explained she "wanted to make a documentary I would've loved seeing as a kid." Even the trailer might make you tear up.
The Wolfpack (Dir. Crystal Moselle)
You might already be familiar with the premise of this much-hyped documentary, but here's the down-low. The film tells the story of brothers who spent their childhood locked up in a small Manhattan apartment, under the rule of their tyrannous dad. Their main contact with world outside was through films, which they'd obsessively recreate. The Wolfpack won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, with good reason.
Ecco Homo (Dir. Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein)
This Australian documentary tells the story of Peter Vanessa "Troy" Davies: an artistic luminary history neglected. While he collaborated with INXS and U2, it seems Troy's peers remembered his magnetic, troublesome nature instead. Ecco Homo's filmmakers -the same people behind Dogs in Space- act as detectives as they excoriate through Troy's many personas to reach the truth. Ecco Homo will premiere at MIFF, so you really can see it first.
Speed Sisters (Dir. Amber Fares)
The self-described 'first female race team in the Arab world' are the subject of this immersive documentary. Amber Fares follows five women determined to ascend in ranks of the male-dominated race scene, but the film offer more insight than that. It's a look at the diverse, badass women of Palestine. Remember M.I.A's "Bad Girls" video? This is it, for real.
The Hunting Ground (Dir. Kirby Dick)
The discussion of campus rapes is reaching fever pitch around the globe, after Columbia University student and rape victim Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress to her graduation ceremony. While the world is listening, universities aren't. This American documentary shines light on the institutions urging victims to keep silent. It's a harrowing topic, but the film respects the women who speak out about their experiences, and shames the victim blaming culture they had to suffer through.
Iris (Dir. Albert Maysles)
Iris Apfel has been a giant of New York's fashion scene for decades, and at 93, she's not shrinking. This documentary follows the story of quick-witted icon, through her career as an interior designer and clever entrepreneur. It's the last film acclaimed filmmaker Albert Maysles made before his death, a welcome addition to his body of work, including Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter. Filled with pearls of wisdom, Iris proves age doesn't have to slow anyone down.
Text Isabelle Hellyer
Photography courtesy of Magnolia Pictures