There’s few better ways to exorcise your feelings about a film than over dinner – if not in excitement of what you’re about to see, then with the film still fresh in your mind. As well as making a safe space to rant or rave about the details, it extends the fantasy for that little while longer.
Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is once again making that terribly easy for Melburnians. Running from August 3–20, 2023, the annual celebration of film is now in its 71st year, and once again promises to deliver the best of cinema from around the world – all within walking distance of some of the city's best restaurants.
To make the most of both, MIFF has teamed up with a bunch of them to offer a two-for-one experience, matching a MIFF flick with its ideal dining companion. All you need to do is grab a ticket, deconstruct the details.
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Victoria by Farmer’s Daughter x The Rooster
The Rooster is the feature debut from actor turned writer/director Mark Leonard Winter (The Dressmaker, Little Tornadoes) is a homespun dramatisation of masculinity, mental health and the solace found in companionship.
Dan (Phoenix Raei) is a regional cop who works in a remote outpost in Victoria. When a childhood friend is discovered dead following an incident at the local high school, his judgement is thrown into question. With his career and mental health in a tailspin, he heads out to camp in the forest, where he meets a dishevelled, cranky, ping-pong obsessed hermit (Weaving) who at first offers refuge, then something more confronting.
Match a viewing of the film with another fine offering built from regional Victoria. Peruvian-born chef Alejandro Saravia (ex-Pastuso) created one of Melbourne’s most impressive restaurants in Farmer’s Daughters on Exhibition Street, a love letter to the abundant produce of Gippsland. Now sister venue Victoria takes the concept one step further by showcasing the best of the state's food, drink and art in a sprawling riverside venue within Federation Square’s Yarra Building.
Saturday 12 August. Dinner at Victoria by Farmer’s Daughter seats at 6.30pm, The Rooster screens at 9pm at the Comedy Theatre. Tickets here.
Aru x The Shadowless Tower
This gentle meditation on romance and life follows Gu Wentong, a middle-aged father and decent enough food writer, who is drifting through life in China. His haze begins to lift when he meets Ouyang, a young photographer with a zest for life, and begins to contemplate another direction through life.
Follow the film’s gentle considerations of the meaning of life and food with dinner at Aru, another city diner well versed in conjuring powerful emotions over plates of Southeast-Asian flavours, this time at the cross-section of native Australian ingredients and ancient techniques. With founding chef Khanh Nguyen recently leaving his post in the kitchen, Aru is now under the stewardship of head chef Nico Koevoets.
Thursday 17 August 2023. Following a 6pm screening of The Shadowless Tower at ACMI, head to dinner around 8.30/8.45pm at Aru on Little Collins Street.Tickets here
Cumulus Inc. x Past Lives
“Can you ever go back, and at what cost to happiness in the present?” is the central question driving Past Lives, the feature debut of Korean-Canadian playwright-turned-filmmaker Celine Song. Riffing on a Korean concept that suggests two souls meeting contains both joy and heartache at the same time, “Past Lives” sees Seoul-born Na-young (Greta Lee, Russian Doll) long married to her husband and living in New York but distracted by the memory of her childhood friend Hae-sung (Teo Yoo, Decision to Leave, MIFF 2022).
This showing at MIFF can be well-matched by one of the city’s most trustworthy date-night spots in Flinders Lane eatery Cumulus Inc. Since it opened in 2008 on Flinders Lane, Andrew McConnell’s European-inspired diner. essentially set the tone for a new wave of dining in Melbourne, and in 2023 that hasn’t changed, with its contemporary take on classics still making it one of the city’s most sought after tables.
Sunday August 13, 2023. See Past Lives at 4pm at Comedy Theatre, then head over to Flinders Lane for 6.15pm dinner at Cumulus Inc.. Tickets here
Hero x Showing Up
Directed by Kelly Reichardt and starring actor Michelle Williams, Showing Up sees talented Portland sculptor Lizzy (Williams) trying to get her life together in time for a show opening in one week’s time – if only her family would get out of the way. A portrait of the artist as a working woman, Showing Up is an ode to the daily creative grind and an honest portrayal of the making of art. Here Williams is supported by a diverse cast, including Hong Chau (The Whale), Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans), John Magaro (First Cow), Broadway favourite Maryann Plunkett and Outkast’s André 3000.
A stone's throw away from The Forum where Showing Up screens, guests can muse on the journey of an artist over lunch at Hero, located within ACMI at Fed Square. Run by celebrity chef Karen Martini, the kitchen at Hero us helmed by executive chef Diego Rosales (former head pastry chef at Sydney’s The Grounds of Alexandria) and one of Australia’s most highly regarded pastry chefs, Philippa Sibley. Lean into their European-inspired dishes laced with a dash of Melbourne.
Sunday 20 August, 2023. Follow the 11am film at The Forum, with 1pm lunch at Hero. Tickets here
La Madonna x Anatomy of a Fall
Winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or 2023 and directed by Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall sees Sandra (Sandra Hüller), a successful German writer who has spent the last year living with her French husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) and 11-year-old son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), living in a chalet in the French Alps. But when Samuel is found lying dead in the snow by young Daniel, it sets in chain a course of events that will see Sandra on trial for murder, with her son’s testimony crucial to the outcome.
Prepare for the psychological thriller at La Madonna, the glamorous bar on the third floor of the Next Hotel on Little Collins Street. There you can get moody with a Champagne and oyster tasting from 7:30pm, before heading to the film at the Comedy Theatre where all will be revealed.
Saturday 5 August, 2023. Enjoy Champagne and oyster tasting from 7.30pm at La Madonna, before the 8.45pm screening at Comedy Theatre. Tickets here
Melbourne International Film Festival runs from August 3–20, 2023. Find out more on the full program and book your tickets here.
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