Capturing Dad (2012) – MIFF Film Review


Japan  74 mins

Hazuki (Erisa Yanagi) and Koharu (Nanoka Matsubara) are sisters growing up in Numazu, Japan; one is in high school and one a bit older. Their mother (Makiko Watanabe) learns that their father, who left fourteen years earlier, is extremely ill and sends her daughters to his deathbed with one mission – to take a photo of him so she can laugh in his face. Neither girl is keen, but they follow their mother’s wish. When they arrive, they discover their father has passed away and they must deal with family they don’t know and grief that they can’t comprehend.

The film has a very low-budget feel, with simple shots and stilted acting. However, despite the flaws, it is a really heartfelt and delightful film. The daughters are both dutiful and gently rebellious, and the relationships feel genuine. Capturing Dad is an excellent choice for the Next Gen program – a film that raises issues around identity, death and family without being heartbreakingly painful.

Capturing Dad is screening at ACMI on Wednesday, August 7th at 11am and at ACMI on Friday, August 9th at 2pm. School bookings and teacher resources are available.


Foxfire (2012) – MIFF Film Film Review


France/Canada  143 mins

It’s the 1950s in small town America. A group of girls, sick of being hassled and harassed by the boys and men of the town, form a secret gang; Foxfire. Their initial goal is revenge on those who wrong them, but ultimately, it is freedom they seek. The story is told as an extended, narrated flashback by Maddy (Katie Coseni) who recorded their exploits at the time. She and the other girls were enthralled by the charisma and vision of Legs (Raven Adamson), prepared to follow her just about wherever she wanted to take them.

Right from the start, the film shows why such a rebellion is necessary for these girls. Alienated from ‘normal’ American life, these girls decide that if they are not going to be seen as acceptable, that they do not need to follow the paths normal for young ladies. There is some of the angst that I have found frustrating in other depictions of dissatisfied teenagers, however Foxfire has reasons for this angst, along with strong relationships and some sense of hope.

Foxfire screens at ACMI on Friday, August 9 at 11am and at Greater Union on Sunday, August 11 at 4pm. School bookings and teacher resources are available.


Valentine Road (2013) MIFF Film Review

Valentine Road_lores

USA, 89 mins

Valentine Road is a documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting in Oxnard, California. A fourteen-year-old gay student, Larry King, was shot by his classmate at school and died two days later. Larry King was from a broken family, living in a shelter for children who have been abused, and had just started to experiment with revealing his sexuality through his behaviour and dress. The day before the shooting, Larry had approached his attacker, Brandon McIrneny in front of a group of his friends, to ask him to be his Valentine. This perceived humiliation was more than Brandon was able to handle and he responded by bringing a gun to school the next day and shooting Larry.

Apart from being too long, with far too many extended shots of people (mostly teenagers) crying, it was an extremely interesting and well constructed film. It seems pretty open-and-shut – a kid shoots another kid and should be locked up. Gradually, though, we are given information about Brandon’s life and the society that these two boys grew up in that makes you question what punishment is appropriate and necessary. Whatever you do, do not expect this film to be uplifting and light-hearted. It is deeply sad and disturbing, and I felt little hope for the world after seeing it.

Valentine Road is part of the Next Gen program of MIFF 2013. School bookings are available and there is a free study companion provided by ACMI. It would be a very hard film to teach, but for a mature group of students, there is the potential for deep discussion and learning.

Valentine Road screens at ACMI on Friday, August 2nd at 11am and at Greater Union on Sunday, August 4th at 1:30pm. For tickets, visit MIFF

MIFF 2013


Have you picked up your copy of the MIFF 2013 program yet? It’s in today’s Age, so you still have a few hours to pop down the shop and grab it. MIFF kicks off on Thursday July 25 at the Arts Centre with a screening of I’m So Excited, a Spanish Comedy straight from the screens at Cannes.

International Panorama is back, as is the Australian Showcase, Next Gen and Accent on Asia. I’m very excited about Juche Days which is a selection of films from North Korea. There is a documentary on Pussy Riot that I am hoping to see, and can only hope it sheds more light on activism in Russia than Tomorrow from MIFF 2012. One program I will be avoiding (thanks to my wussy constitution) is the Italian Giallo section, with lots of graphic violence; that and Night Shift with all the horror and suspense that other people can handle. Tim Winton’s short story collection, The Turning has been made into a series of shorts that are screening together as a feature presentation that looks extremely impressive.

There is so much more. Get the program, grab a highlighter and get booking. Tickets went on sale today, which leads to one of my favourite games – watching the MIFF app to see what tickets are selling fast/sold out. At time of writing, one of the sessions of The Turning is already on standby. Very exciting.

MIFF runs from July 25 to August 11. For tickets, visit the MIFF website.