Memoir of a Snail directed by Adam Elliot
Memoir of a Snail

Memoir of a Snail, the new feature film from locally-born Oscar-winning filmmaker, Adam Elliot, will officially open the 2024 Melbourne International Film Festival, MIFF, when the festival returns this August

The festival runs August 8th-25th and is expected to comprise more than 250 titles. Sharing an early first glance look at some of this year’s program, the Festival has revealed details of its GALA events, The 2024 Premiere Fund Film Slate, a suite of international highlights and a bevy of unmissable big screen and off screen experiences.

Hometown hero, Adam Elliot, will unveil Memoir of a Snail – arriving 20 years on from his remarkable 2004 Academy Award Win for Harvie Krumpet – at this year’s opening night GALA, on Thursday 8th August. Supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, the exquisitely hand-crafted stop-motion wonder assembles a star-powered collection of voices, including Sarah Snook, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Magda Szubanski, Eric Bana, Tony Armstrong, Nick Cave and Jacki Weaver to enliven the latest gaggle of Elliot’s unique claymation creations.

Looking ahead to opening night, filmmaker Adam Elliot, said: “after eight long years, producer Liz Kearney and I are a bit exhausted but thrilled to be asked to be the opening night film for MIFF 2024; it is truly a Melbourne film and MIFF is the perfect place for its Australian premiere. About Melbourne, made by Melburnians and voiced by Melburnians, Memoir of a Snail is a handmade stop-motion film lovingly crafted by a team of local artists. That said, an opening night at MIFF will be a celebration of their artistry and a celebration of this wonderful city in which we live.

Sharing a first look at the festival’s 2024 program, MIFF Artistic Director Al Cossar, said: “time to ready yourselves for another extraordinary voyage through cinema and the marvelous visions, diversions, and cinematic surprises coming your way as over 250 films illuminate the screens this winter across 18 days of unbridled binge-viewing.”

“First glance already sees us lifting the lid on some of the most anticipated films of the year, alongside films you won’t find anywhere else – bold, thrilling, thoughtful, hilarious, terrifying, and essential new cinema, from Australia and all around the world.”

“Remember, now’s the time to sort passes, subscribe, mark your calendars, clear your diaries, and generally lay in wait for the return of Melbourne’s biggest cinematic event – The 2024 Melbourne International Film Festival!”

In an early snapshot of what’s to come, MIFF revealed a handful of titles from its expansive program of 250+ films to whet the appetite of festival-goers ahead of the 2024 main event.

Following up the lo-fi, high concept we’re all going to the world’s fair, Director Jane Schoenbrun’s, I Saw the TV Glow Once Again, crafts a story about the ways that technology, art and pop culture can be lifelines for outsiders, this time interweaving themes of gender, queerness and identity. With elevated twists on genre, music by Caroline Polachek and Yeule, and a plethora of pop-culture easter eggs (including appearances by Phoebe Bridgers, Snail Mail and Fred Durst), I Saw the TV Glow is bound to become one of the most talked-about films of the year.

Recent CANNES Critics’ Week Award winner, Constance Tsang’s Blue Sun Palace investigates the complexities of the migrant experience alongside a warm, empathetic study of the universality of the human hunger for connection. Starring Golden Horse winning actor (and Tsai Ming-Liang favourite) Lee Kang-Sheng, the story begins in New York City where two recently arrived chinese workers are navigating the demands of family back home and the difficulties of their new lives working in a massage parlour, when an unexpected act of violence brings the pair together in an unlikely bond.

Euphoria’s hunter Schafer goes head-to-head with Downton Abbey Alum Dan Stevens in Cuckoo, the freightfully weird second feature from German Writer-Director Tilman singer (Luz) which set Berlinale audiences a flutter thanks to its wild and wacky, stylish yet sinister spin on the horror genre.

Surveying a coming-of-age marked by MySpace and Motorola flip phones during the heady days of the 2000s, Didi is the Double-Sundance-winning Semi-Autobiographical debut feature by Sean Wang. Sharing nostalgic DNA with eighth grade and mid 90s, Didi further cements Wang’s Directorial talent following a recent Oscar nomination for his short Nai Nai & WàI Pó.

Awarded Berlinale’s Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance, Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) plays a wannabe actor who learns that confidence isn’t skin-deep in the deliciously twisted, A Different Man. Channelling David Cronenberg, David Lynch and Ari Kaurismäki in his film’s blend of body-horror, dark comedy and surrealism, Indie Auteur Aaron Schimberg shrewdly takes a scalpel to misplaced ambition and the superficiality of modern society.

Executive-produced by Amiel Courtin-Wilson (Hail, MIFF 2012; Bastardy, MIFF 2008), Jaydon Martin’s Directorial feature debut, Flathead, scooped a special jury award as part of Rotterdam’s Tiger Competition. Shot in an alluringly cinematic black-and-white, this intimate portrait blurs narrative and nonfiction to memorialise a working-class community in rural Queensland and their dealings with loss, masculinity and faith.

From Australian production house stranger than fiction films and screening exclusively in IMAX, Fungi: Web of Life follows UK Biologist Dr. Merlin Sheldrake on a mission to educate the population about fungi’s possibilities, advocate for their preservation and, in his own words, give this kingdom of life “a kingdom’s worth of attention”. Lulled by the soothing narration of Björk – a fellow fungi lover – and featuring mesmerizing time lapse footage, this 3D documentary makes for a journey that’s both meditative and awe-inspiring.

Continuing the socially driven work of his previous films, the world premiere future council sees Damon Gamou (That Sugar Film; 2040) take eight inspiring young minds – including singer-songwriter Ruby Rodgers, the granddaughter of rock legend Jimmy Barnes – on the ultimate school excursion: A road trip across europe in his vegetable-oil-powered, bright-yellow school bus to seek solutions to the climate crisis. What results is an optimistic portrait of what could be possible if adults actually listen to the kids set to inherit the (increasingly uninhabitable) earth.

Winner of SXSW’s Grand Jury Prize for documentary feature, grand theft hamlet sees two locked-down actors take Shakespeare to the least likely stage imaginable: the streets of multiplayer video game grand theft auto. What begins as a playful collusion between the simulated thuggery of online gaming, the violent mayhem of Shakespeare’s Denmark and the real-world camaraderie of theatre dorks swiftly develops into a surprisingly poignant story about unbridled creativity even during the worst of times.

Based on Arnold Wesker’s play the kitchen and starring Rooney Mara (Song to Song, MIFF 2017), La Cocina was a Berlinale competition standout for its gorgeously shot, righteously angry portrait of kitchen workers stewing in the pressure-cooker conditions of a New York City Bistro. Director Alonso Ruizpalacio (Museum, MIFF 2018) contrasts his film’s kitchen-confidential chaos with moments of quiet humanity, with stately compositions, gliding tracking shots and immaculate black-and-white cinematography further enhancing the palette.

Director Lana Wilson’s earlier work – including the Taylor Swift concert film Miss Americana and Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields – has scaled the heights of fame and the image of celebrity. In this A24-backed documentary, her intimate meticulous approach takes viewers past the beaded curtain to meet seven psychics and their clients. Like a clairvoyant, look into my eyes present insights that transcend, seeking to empathetically shed light on the profound impulses for compassion, connection and closure.

Venerated Filmmaker and MIFF favorite Frederick Wiseman’s 44th feature documentary turns the lens on the kitchens of Michelin three-star French restaurants and the family that runs it in a genuine farm-to-table film. Unlike the small pleasures of its title, Menus-plaisirs les Troisgros is a tremendous Epicurean delight, patiently following the Troisgros gastronomic dynasty from the market to the dining room and everything in between for a four-hour feast for the senses.

Tender and funny yet politically daring, the Double-Berlinale-Winning late-life romance, My Favorite Cake, is a warm, charming and incisive depiction of older women’s inner lives that also breaks several entrenched Iranian cinematic taboos. The tender bubble of intimacy that Writer-Directors Maryam Moghadam and Behtash Sanaeeha (Ballad of a White Cow, MIFF 2021) have crafted in this gentle crowd pleaser is only made even more precious by its precariousness, with the pair unable to accept their awards in person as the Iranian Government had confiscated their passports.

Oscar Winner Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years a Slave) is known for tackling important themes in ambitious projects; in occupied city, he shifts his gaze to his adopted home of Amsterdam. Shooting throughout the covid-19 pandemic he reveals the traumatising events from WWII that continue to haunt every corner of the city to this day. Building on the meticulous research of wife and fellow filmmaker Bianca Stigter’s book atlas of an occupied city, McQueen interweaves footage of schools, parks, homes, museums, businesses and the red-light district with revelatory, sometimes harrowing testimonies from locals, who reflect on the inter-bleeding of history and memory, trauma and healing.

Premiering at Tribeca, Yannis Veslemes’s Outlandish and otherworldly She Loved Blossoms More follows three brothers as they attempt to lure their long-gone mother back to the world of the living using a time machine concocted from a wardrobe. As they deal with their delusional father and a girlfriend who plies them with drugs, their wayward experiments catapult them into a time-warped journey of grief and longing that is as visually arresting as it is comedic and disturbing.

Celebrate the world of gender-punk icon peaches in the audacious Teddy award–winning documentary, Teaches of Peaches. Alongside footage of the singer’s in-your-face breakthrough in the early 2000s, directors Philipp Fussenegger and Judy Landkammer grant audiences front-row access to one of the wildest tours of the decade as peaches marks 20 years of her album of the same name. On hand for interviews are Feist, Chilly Gonzales, Shirley Manson, Black Cracker and more as they explore the enduring influence of this one-of-a-kind queer punk legend.

Fiercely feminist and imbued with a wicked sense of humour, we were dangerous is an ambitious and comedic drama from debut Māori filmmaker Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu and executive producer Taika Waititi. Life on the island is ruled by sublime acting stand-outs of Rima Te Wiata (Hunt For the Wilderpeople), Erana James (The Wilds) and Nathalie Morris (Petrol, MIFF 2022) who team-up in this emotive subversion of the ‘Coming-of-Age Delinquent’ narrative.

Director Jodi Wille has spent 25 years exploring alternative spiritual communities. Now, welcome space brothers enters the world of the Unarians: California–based cosmic visionaries who use ‘fourth-dimensional physics’ and filmmaking to connect with extraterrestrials and their own past lives. In this affectionate celebration of extra-outsider art, executive-produced by Elijah Wood, Wille captures the exuberance that self-taught creativity can bring ordinary people in search of meaning.

The full program will launch on Thursday 11th July.

First Glance Titles: MIFF 2024

A Different Man
Blue Sun Palace
Fungi: Web of Life
Future Council
Grand Theft Hamlet
I Saw the Tv Glow
La Cocina
Look Into My Eyes
Menus-plaisirs – les Troisgros
My Favorite Cake
Occupied City
She Loved Blossoms More
Teaches of Peaches
We Were Dangerous
Welcome Space Brothers

Audrey (premiere film fund)
Ellis Park (premiere film fund)
Left Write Hook (premiere film fund)
Magic Beach (premiere film fund)
Memoir of a Snail (premiere film fund)
Queens of Concrete (premiere film fund)

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