After 64 years of incredible, challenging film, MIFF could run on the strength of its reputation alone, but instead, continues to raise the bar. This year 370 films from dozens of countries will screen over 17 days and nights, including 28 world premieres, and 163 films being screened in Australia for the first time.

This year MIFF will kick off with the opening-night screening of Australian director Paul Cox’s latest film, Force of Destiny. This semi-autobiographical film looks at a sculptor (David Wenham) who finds himself diagnosed with liver cancer just as he begins to fall in love with a marine biologist (Shahana Goswami). Cast members will grace the red carpet on the night.

Continuing the recent popular tradition of marking the midpoint of the festival with a Centrepiece Gala screening, on August 8 the highly anticipated adaptation of Timothy Conigrave’s much-loved novel Holding the Man will be shown. Attending the screening will be director Neil Armfield, lead cast members Ryan Corr, Craig Stott and many more cast and crew.

The festival wraps up on August 16, but the Closing Night Gala on Saturday August 15 features a screening of Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Mistress America. Written by Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig (the team responsible for the 2013 hit Frances Ha), Mistress America tells the story of aspiring writer and college freshman Tracy (Lola Kirke), who finds herself adrift on campus until she meets force-of-nature Brooke (Greta Gerwig).

Four local films will make their debut as part of the MIFF Premiere Fund: director Grant Scicluna’s Downriver, starring Reef Ireland (Puberty Blues) and Kerry Fox (Intimacy); Neon, a documentary celebrating neon lighting (of all things) directed by Lawrence Johnston; Richard Lowenstein and Lynn-Marie Milburn’s Ecco Homo, a portrait of artist and performer, Troy Davies; and Nicole Ma’s documentary Putuparri & The Rainmakers.

Other Australian projects appearing at MIFF include TV drama The Principal by director Kriv Stenders and leading-man Alex Dimitriades; debut feature filmmaker and Accelerator alumnus Ben Chessell and comedian Lawrence Leung’s coming-of-age story, Sucker; and actor/director Paul Ireland’s tale of an inner-Melbourne pawn broker Pawno, starring Damian Hill.

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This year regular programs such as Next Gen, This Sporting Life, Backbeat and the offbeat Night Shift are joined by the self-explanatory Witness to the Fact: True Crime on Film and Psychedelic!, showing a range of films designed to encourage audiences to free their minds.

With 17 program strands, 28 world premieres, 163 Australian premieres, 23 Talking Pictures events, more than 29 international guests and more than 100 local guests—and even a new foodie section, according to opening night speeches—it’s hard to narrow down the list of highlights. But here’s a few films and programs you might want to keep an eye out for.

Director Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess was a hit at MIFF in 2013, and this year he’s back with Results, a rom-com about gym instructors starring Guy Pearce.

Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini examines the final days of Italian film director Paolo Pasolini (120 Days of Sodom).

Iranian director Nima Javidi will attend MIFF to present her feature film Melbourne, a psychological drama in which good people are forced to confront troubling circumstances.

The ever-popular “Beat” Takeshi Kitano is back with Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen, a comedy about a derby race against the Yakusa.

There’s a retrospective looking at the work of David Gulpilil, including screenings of Mad Dog Morgan, Ten Canoes and the world premiere of Another Country. Director Molly Reynolds will also be in attendance.

The full MIFF program will be online at from July 10. Tickets for Opening Night and Centerpiece sessions are on sale, with all other MIFF tickets going on sale to the public July 10 (two days earlier for MIFF members).

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