This MIFFmas, we’re bringing you two dossiers derived from what’s on offer at the 70th edition of the Melbourne International Film Festival. Guest editors John Edmond and Alison Taylor cover the breadth and depth of French/Bosnian filmmaker Lucile Hadžihalilović, while Associate Professor Wendy Haslem traces the nexus of film theory and practice through MIFF and the University of Melbourne. 

Our features include a waltz through Protestploitation cinema to explore the commercial representation of anti-commercialism today. Bergman Island (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2021), Hommage (Shin Su-won, 2022) and Anaïs in Love (Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, 2021) are discussed within the context of films about female creativity.

The source material of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), Julio Cortázar’s short story Las Babas del Diablo (1959), is resurrected and resituated within Antonioni’s film to reveal how the ambiguous representation of reality in both works captures the essence of Cortázar’s text. Using documentary as a vehicle for uncertainty, rather than answers, is explored through Jean-Luc Godard’s Le petit soldat (1963), while elements of suicide are read through Van Gogh’s paintings Akira Kurosawa’s Yume (Dreams, 1990).

As usual, our Festivals section comprises thorough and insightful dispatches from far-flung destinations. As festivals reposition themselves after two years of disruption, our writers do a magnificent job at articulating the very peculiar vibe emanating at these events. 

Regular reporter Daniel Fairfax eloquently captures the atmosphere at Cannes, raising probing questions about the festival and cinema at large. Cerise Howard’s lively dispatch from Karlovy Vary, especially her account of the festival’s opening ceremony, provides an excellent appraisal of its post-lockdown iteration. 

Marco Abel’s account of Berlin is essential reading as is Bérénice Reynaud on Sundance. In addition to A-list festivals such as Berlin, Cannes and Sundance, this issue features reports from specialist festivals such as Nippon, Cinema Ritrovato, Silent Film Festival and the Taiwan International Documentary Festival. These are critical film culture events that – among them – champion national cinemas, non-fiction formats and cinema history. 

As festival reporter Jonathan Mackris notes, the sheer volume of audience numbers at the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco in May attests to the enduring love for the early days of cinema and for film as art. 

Rounding off this issue’s contents are interviews with two very different yet deep and stylistic filmmakers: Australia’s David Esteal and Canadian-French filmmaker Davy Chou. Our Book Reviews examine the last issue and history of “cult” French film journal Trafic, a key space for radical film thinking founded by Serge Daney 30 years ago. Senses of Cinema alumni editor Daniel Fairfax has contributed an obituary for critic, film theorist and filmmaker, Jean-Louis Comolli. May he rest in paradise.

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