The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is nearly upon us, no wonder it is starting to feel cold already. The festival takes place in winter and while we are a few weeks away yet, the films for Next Gen's programming stream have just been announced, check the release after the jump.
Next Gen, the festival’s all-ages education-centric strand serves to enhance language learning, intercultural understanding and media analysis, and amazingly now in its 10th year, the schools’ program will showcase eight outstanding films that delve into drama, animation and fantasy to engage and inspire.
Included in the program are French titles Miss Impossible, the adaptation of Marie Desplechin’s bestselling French young adult novel series Le journal d’Aurore, which invites us to share the often hilarious perspective of a ‘normal’ teenager, and by doing so demonstrates that there is no such thing; and Adama, winner of the Best of the Fest Award at the 2015 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. This strikingly stylised animated film was inspired by real-life stories of West African men recruited to fight for French forces. Continuing the French strand is The New Kid. With a knock-out cast of emerging young actors, this is a film that shines a charming new light on a familiar story, offering a sharply humorous take on the perils and pitfalls of surviving high school. From Italy, Banana, this light-hearted film is a winning testament to the fact that happiness isn’t measured in the success you find, but in the way that you try to find it. The latest adaptation of the beloved Chinese fairytale Ma Liang and his Magic Brush is Zhi-xing Zhong’s gorgeously animated adventure, The Magic Brush. Produced in collaboration with Disney, the film follows young artist, Ma Liang, who is gifted with a brush that magically brings to life whatever it paints.
For an older teenage audience, What’s in the Darkness brings shades of Twin Peaks and a backdrop of insular communities, serial killers and sexual awakenings. When a shocking series of crimes rock a small town in China in 1991, detective Qu Zhicheng is placed on the case. Writer/director Wang Yichun draws upon her own background and offers an astute personal perspective on the gender inequalities, generational differences, moral hypocrisy and double standards at the heart of her homeland.
Japanese filmmaker Diago Matsui (Wonderful World End) returns to the screen with the defiantly teenage road movie, Our Huff and Puff Journey. This is a film that revels in the dream of freedom and the flow of youthful rebellion. Finally, German film Mara and the Firebringer. Like any other 15-year-old, protagonist Mara just wants to fit in with her peers, and find her place in life. But schoolyard bullies and a weird, embarrassing mum will soon be the least of her problems, because Mara has just learned the she’s a mystic seer; that the ancient legends are all true; and that the fate of the world rests on her shoulders. Warm-hearted, funny and empowering, Mara and the Firebringer is a world away from the dystopian fare Hollywood currently serves adolescents.
Next Gen has been a powerful tool for educating and enlightening students across Victoria and this years line-up continues this solid and important tradition. I myself am very excited for What's In The Darkness, sound off below on your picks, and stick to ScreenAnarchy for more on MIFF.