Melbourne Film Fest Tix On Sale Now

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Tickets for all sessions and events for the full MIFF 2017 program are now available! The festival runs for 18 days from August 3 – 20.

Festival exclusives include an in conversation with Jane Campion, the Closing Night Gala World Premiere of Gurrumul, Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time at IMAX (narrated by Brad Pitt), and a program of Virtual Reality.

The Music Documentary Program includes the following films:

THE ALLINS

Even ultraviolent, poop- and blood-smeared, punk rock scumlords need a family.

The most outrageous musician to ever live – GG Allin – had a mother, a brother, a legacy. While that legacy might disgust many (pummelling, fondling and defecating through a career of on-stage destruction), award-winning Danish documentarian Sami Saif discovers a more nuanced subject through his mother Arleta, co-conspirator and brother Merle, and the lunatics who loved him.

Allin died of a heroin overdose in 1993 and since then his legend has only grown. Arleta and Merle have their own ways of dealing with it: she removing his gravestone due to constant fan defacement and he balancing his own mourning with an entrepreneurial urge to cash in on their fame.

The trouble might’ve begun when GG was literally christened ‘Jesus Christ Allin’ and his family, friends and fans talk us through his self-martyrdom. From the abuse Allin’s father inflicted on the family, but also their most tender moments, to how GG channelled his rage into his life’s performance: it all reveals the man behind the maniac behind the music.

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB: ADIOS

After winning the MIFF 2013 Audience Award for Best Documentary with The Crash Reel, Lucy Walker returns with a touching farewell to the world’s most beloved son cubano musicians.

Few films have had as much of an immediate cultural impact as the original Buena Vista Social Club did back in 1999. Introducing us to the flamboyant, consummate musicians of Cuba’s walled-off musical garden, Wim Wenders’ film made overnight stars of ageing troubadours Ibrahim Ferrer – “the Cuban Nat King Cole” – Ruben Gonzalez, Omara Portundo and 93-year-old guitarist Compay Segundo, along with a whole host of others.

Now 17 years on, it’s time to say goodbye. In Buena Vista Social Club: Adios, Lucy Walker draws on archival footage and outtakes from Wenders’ original shoot, before following the now vastly changed Social Club ensemble as they embark on their farewell tour. Reflecting on where they’ve come from and those that have already passed, Buena Vista Social Club: Adios is both a magnificent, life-affirming portrait of musical passion undimmed by age, as well as a toe-tapping tribute to one of the world’s great musical traditions and the troubled country that birthed it.

CHASING TRANE

“The genius of John Coltrane comes to life in an elegantly crafted documentary that can hook jazz novices as well as connoisseurs.” – Variety

Veteran documentarian John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon) takes an expansive, passionate dive into the life of the iconic saxophonist and musical innovator, moving from Coltrane’s roots through his work with Miles Davis, the legendary A Love Supreme, his addictions and his spiritual awakenings.

Buoyant archival footage is spliced together with Coltrane’s own words, read by Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, while a host of interviews – ranging from Cornel West to Bill Clinton to Santana – pay tribute to the jazz titan. The result is a beautifully textured, uplifting piece electrified by more than 50 of Coltrane’s recordings from throughout his career.

“A rich account of a jazz giant’s life … comprehensive, engrossing and, it’s tempting to say, worshipful.” – Hollywood Reporter

CHAVELA

An adoring, insightful portrait of the musical star who sang of darkness while lighting up lives: legendary Mexican singer and Pedro Almodóvar muse, Chavela Vargas.

Her songs have echoed across the soundtracks of Almodóvar’s KikaLive Flesh and Julieta(MIFF 2016); but that’s just one of Chavela Vargas’ many claims to fame. She transformed Mexico’s music scene – daring to sing traditionally male-crooned rancheras, perform in ponchos and destroy senorita stereotypes – and became both a national rebel and a queer icon in the process.

After meeting Vargas in 1992, documentarian Catherine Gund unearths the never-before-seen recordings of their chats to craft a chronicle of a game-changing treasure. Interwoven with archival footage and contemporary interviews, Chavela explores everything from her hard-drinking lifestyle and her intense affair with Frida Kahlo to her late career resurgence. But more than that, it captures the inimitable spirit of a woman and an artist who refused to conform to anyone’s norms.

“A vivid portrayal of an artistic, social and sexual rebel whose difficult but finally triumphant life finally proved that there sometimes really are second acts in showbiz.” – Screen Daily

GIVE ME FUTURE: MAJOR LAZER IN CUBA

Share the joy as hundreds of thousands welcome Major Lazer to the streets of Havana for the city’s first post-embargo international concert.

Their 2015 hit single Lean On turned cult electro trio Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire, aka Major Lazer, into international superstars. So the appreciative group proposed some far-flung dates for their 2016 world tour: Pakistan, Ethiopia, Venezuela … and Cuba, where Western music had previously been banned by Castro.

In a tightly controlled country with less than 10% internet penetration, would anyone even show up? Thanks to Cuban geeks disseminating terabytes of pirated world culture (dubbed “Paquete Semanal”) through a clandestine offline network, it turns out even Cuban mums know and love these dancehall bangers. Director Austin Peters’ guerilla documentary captures both the thriving underground popular culture in the country and the historic concert, which is only the second there by a US act since 1962.

“[Give Me Future] offers hope that political and social gaps can always be bridged. Especially when there’s a good beat, and you can dance to it.” – The Wrap

THE GO-BETWEENS: RIGHT HERE

The Go-Betweens were Australia’s original indie rock trailblazers, leaving behind a sonic legacy that’s influenced everyone from Belle and Sebastian to Sleater-Kinney. This is their incredible, tragic story – told in their own words.

Talk to any fan of the Go-Betweens and they’ll tell you one thing: they never got the recognition they deserved. From humble beginnings in a Brisbane garage back in 1977, through to their attempts to conquer the world, and the disappointment, disbandment and final tragedy that followed, the Go-Betweens were a band beloved by the critics, but too often ignored by the listening public. Yet together Robert Forster and Grant McLennan created one of the most remarkable discographies in Australian music history; one whose influence can still be heard today.

A once-in-a-lifetime passion project for Kriv Stenders – who directed a number of the band’s music videos – The Go-Betweens: Right Here tells the four-decade-long story of the Go-Betweens, in their own words. Featuring unparalleled access to the band’s original members and filled with never-before-seen archival footage, The Go-Betweens: Right Here is the final word on one of this country’s true musical legends, and a brilliant reflection on the state of Australian rock music itself.

LIBERATION DAY

There are certain borders that bombastic Slovenian metal has never crossed – until now.

Laibach – longstanding ex-Yugoslavian/Slovenian rockers best known for their doom-laden interpretation of folk and pop classics (including The Sound of Music!) – have provoked all sides of the political spectrum over their three decades as an industrial act and leaders of the New Slovenian Art movement. Now, to the surprise of both the rock establishment and perhaps the entire world, they’re going where no band has gone before, becoming the first ever rock act to play within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)!

Laibach’s tour manager Morten Traavik joins Latvian director and screenwriter Uģis Olte to document this unlikeliest of tour dates. As the band works through a needle’s eye of censorship and negotiate miles of cultural difference, tensions grow along the DMZ and a countdown to war is announced. To new ears unaccustomed to amps that go all the way to 11, Liberation Day unleashes a raft of musical culture clash like no other!

“Perhaps the most spectacular cultural event of recent times, and definitely the most surprising documentary you’ll see this year.” – Filmmagasinet, Norway

A LIFE IN WAVES

Five Grammy nominations, ad jingles you grew up with and the first female composer of a major Hollywood film – meet Suzanne Ciani, one of the most innovative electronic artists of our times.

In a career spanning almost 50 years, Suzanne Ciani has distinguished herself as one of electronic music’s true pioneers. A woman who made the legendary Buchla synthesiser her own, she forwent the harsh drones of her contemporaries for sounds that fizzed and flowed, drawing out the otherworldly possibilities of analog music. She created the Coca-Cola bubble sound, worked with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, released more than a dozen critically acclaimed records and has influenced a whole generation of musicians – and yet never found the fame of her male peers.

Filmmaker Brett Whitcomb’s nostalgic and joyous A Life in Waves lets the still incredibly active Ciani tell her own story, from her earliest experiments through to her multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns, trendsetting record label and adventures in the 1970s New York electronic scene. Through it all emerges a portrait of a woman who carved her own path through a male-dominated world, believing in a unique artistic vision and fighting for the success she deserved.

LONG STRANGE TRIP

Perhaps the most comprehensive documentary of The Grateful Dead, Long Strange Tripwill delight the band’s devoted Deadheads, but also serves as a primer for those who never fully understood the cult fever surrounding the group.

The 1960s counterculture movement was embodied by The Grateful Dead, the groundbreaking San Francisco band that fused rock, jazz, country, bluegrass, folk and reggae into a unique and exciting sound. The group’s soaring popularity and enormous fanbase came as a surprise to the industry, as its lengthy instrumental solos and lack of radio-friendly singles defied conventional commercial wisdom. But beneath the veneer of success lay turmoil, with drug addiction and arrests plaguing the band, but never stopping them from a near-endless tour.

Director Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, MIFF 2007) and executive producer Martin Scorsese have created a documentary that feels deliberately like a Grateful Dead song, with a run time clocking in at an epic four hours, and weaving interviews and archive footage into an eclectic and layered construction, evoking the unmistakable style of the legendary band.

“A movie that every Deadhead in the kozmic universe will want to see… (all) the sprawl and generosity of a good Dead show.” – Variety

THE PUBLIC IMAGE IS ROTTEN

Punk’s not dead. Or, at least, this punk isn’t. John Lydon comes clean about four decades under the Sex Pistols’ shadow as the ringleader of Public Image Ltd.

Public Image Ltd (PiL) was the phoenix born from the death of Lydon’s manufactured alter-ego Johnny Rotten, the real Sid Vicious and the lie of the Sex Pistols. Their radical dance-punk changed Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea’s life and their second release, Metal Box, is dubbed as the “White Album of the underground” by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. The chaos never ended.

A rightful heir to Julien Temple’s The Filth and The Fury, director Tabbert Fiiller’s film exposes endless tumult from PiL personnel, childhood horrors, celebrity accolades, much-mocked butter commercials, and vintage footage once thought to be a myth. With the lifelong confessions from a punk progenitor at centre stage, The Public Image is Rotten is a revelatory portrait of an era, an act and an aged provocateur.

“The definitive portrait of this inventive, influential post-punk outfit” – Screen Anarchy

REVOLUTION OF SOUND. TANGERINE DREAM

The definitive portrait of the German synth-rockers whose inimitable sound defined 80s cinema – and inspired the music of Stranger Things.

For almost 50 years, Edgar Froese, the mastermind behind Tangerine Dream, made music fit for the space age. A master of the Moog synthesiser (and a whole lot more besides), Froese and a rotating cast of sonic adventurers created a dizzying sequence of albums and film soundtracks that serve as one of the great surveys of the history of electronic music. From Risky Business to Sorcerer to Grand Theft Auto V, Tangerine Dream charted a course through the outer limits of recorded audio, and in doing so changed the face of popular music forever.

Filled with never-before-seen archival footage – including remarkable glimpses of their 1970s Australian tour – Revolution of Sound is filmmaker Margarete Kreuzer’s tripped-out tribute to Froese, who died in 2015, and the incredible music he created. Told through interviews with Tangerine Dream’s many, many band members and collaborators such as Jean-Michael Jarre, Michael Mann and Paul Brickman, Revolution of Sound is the definitive document of one of the least heralded, most important bands of the 20th century.

RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD

“An astoundingly rich and resonant music documentary … a reminder that indigenous peoples’ voices and music cannot be silenced or ignored.” – Hollywood Reporter

Before Hendrix, before Elvis, before rock music was even a thing, there was Link Wray, the “father of the power chord”, whose song Rumble sold more than a million copies and was the starter’s pistol for the entire pop music era. But Wray, like so many Native American musicians, from every conceivable genre, has largely been forgotten, his achievements assumed by his whiter successors.

In Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, documentary makers Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana set out to reinstate these Native American trailblazers to their rightful place in the pop music pantheon, and for their efforts they won a Special Jury Prize for Masterful Storytelling at Sundance in addition to the HotDocs Audience Award. Featuring one of the most impressive line-ups you’ll ever see in a musical documentary – including Quincy Jones, Iggy Pop, Steve Tyler and George Clinton – Rumble is the lively and eye-opening story of the Native American renegades who invented rock‘n’roll.

SOMETHING QUITE PECULIAR: THE LIFE & TIMES OF STEVE KILBEY

The Church’s Under the Milky Way is one of the great Australian anthems. But for the man who wrote it, success became a portal into a world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll that almost destroyed his life. This is the story of Steve Kilbey.

By any metric Steve Kilbey, frontman of Oz rock pioneers The Church, has been one of Australia’s most prolific and influential musicians. Over 40 years he’s released more than 750 songs across almost 50 albums, earning himself endless accolades and a place in the ARIA Hall of Fame. But most people know him for his 1988 international hit, Under the Milky Way – a self-described “accident”, which kickstarted a lost decade of heroin addiction and would eventually cost him his family and almost his mind.

From one of our foremost film chroniclers of Australian rock, Mike Brook (Don’t Throw Stones, MIFF 2014), comes the warts-and-all tale of one of our most talented, troubled rock’n’roll legends, all the way from rags to redemption. Fuelled by Kilbey’s own brutal honesty and based on his memoir of the same name, Something Quite Peculiar delivers everything you’d ever want from a rock doc – dizzying stories, unsparing confessions and incredible music.

TOKYO IDOLS

Teenage girl pop stars grapple with finding fame and the creeping fixation of their male fan bases in this eye-opening look at Japanese idol culture.

Thousands of young girls in Japan dream of making it as a professional pop idol. Rio is just one putting in the hard yards of endless rounds of performances, self-marketing, and meeting and greeting her fans, who call themselves Rio Brothers. Like most idol fans, Rio’s followers are predominantly middle-aged men, many of whom have given up their jobs and relationships to fully devote themselves to their favourite idols.

Kyoko Miyake’s probing documentary illustrates the dichotomies of pop idol worship, a world where young girls are held up by their much older male fans as symbols of perfection. But the fans’ interest doesn’t boil down to just sex; the idols represent a freedom they lack in their everyday lives, and idols like Rio are more savvy businesswomen than naïve dolls. Miyake captures the disturbing and the empathetic with equal insight, all to catchy J-Pop tunes.

“Some of the more challenging, unusual, unnerving, occasionally inspiring and ultimately bewildering 88 minutes I’ve spent at the movies in some time.” – Criterion Cast

TWO TRAINS RUNNIN’

Narrated by Common and featuring extraordinary performances from a who’s who of contemporary blues, Two Trains Runnin’ takes viewers back to the Deep South of the 60s, when ‘whereabouts unknown’ applied to both blues icons and black rights.

In 1964, two groups of musical archeologists ventured into Mississippi in search of missing Delta blues legends Son House and Skip James. Each group was unaware of the other’s quest. And these naïve, white, college students weren’t prepared for the voting rights firestorm they were about to enter.

Two Trains Runnin’ is a graceful and unnervingly prescient document of the lost legacy of the blues, and the long, blood-soaked road to freedom. Contrasting animated reconstructions and shocking archival footage of the era with contemporary performances and commentary, it unearths priceless musical gems and reveals shameful secrets.

Directed by Sam Pollard (who produced Spike Lee’s When the Levee Breaks), this poignant film also features today’s blues heroes – Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr, Lucinda Williams, and the North Mississippi Allstars – reviving music born of unimaginable struggle.

“A powerful meditation on the origins of an African-American musical genre and the painful reasons for its existence.” – RogerEbert.com

WHERE YOU’RE MEANT TO BE

“Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat tours Scotland in … an infectiously entertaining, lyrical folk odyssey that reveals something unexpectedly profound about culture, language and storytelling.” – Little White Lies

After a trailblazing career that helped define the sound of modern indie rock, Aidan Moffat has become newly obsessed with his Scottish musical heritage. Touring the country in search of traditional folk songs, Moffat delights in updating them for the modern age, transforming ballads of bonnie lasses and windswept seas into tales of beer-swilling barnies and no-good neds. But when a fiery old folk singer named Sheila Stewart confronts him about his disrespect for his own culture, Moffat is forced to see these songs anew.

An irreverent, high-spirited musical travelogue that evolves into something deeper, Where You’re Meant to Be is a glorious testament to the richness and fire of Celtic song, and the importance of the stories we tell. A captivating collaboration between director Paul Fegan and the irascible Moffat, the film has one true star: the larger-than-life Stewart, who brings a musical tradition to vivid, roaring life.

“With its mix of dark melancholy and bawdy humour, its grime and its visual magnificence, Where You’re Meant to Be feels like a celebration of the real Scotland, in all its messy, joyful chaos, as sincere and authentic as Moffat’s contemporary versions of Stewart’s age-old songs.” – The Arts Desk

Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM (rrr.org.au) in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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