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Melbourne International Film Festival 2023: Music on Film

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I'm sure you'll find a few that interest you here!


MIFF: Music on Film

August 2023

03 - 20 Cinemas

18 - 27 Online



Abebe Butterfly Song


< Discover the musical legacy and enduring friendship between celebrated Papuan musician George Telek and Not Drowning, Waving’s David Bridie.

In 1986, Melbourne musician David Bridie of the groups Not Drowning, Waving and My Friend the Chocolate Cake travelled to Papua New Guinea, where he heard the heartfelt sounds of George Telek and the Moab Stringband’s ‘Abebe’ (‘Butterfly Song’) on board a bus. It marked the beginning of a profound fascination with the nation and its rich culture – and of a bond with Telek that would last more than 30 years. Together, their collaboration on critically acclaimed albums and tours has helped amplify Papuan stringband sounds and languages like Tok Pisin and Kuanua outside of the country. >


It's Only Life After All


< On Her Shoulders (MIFF 2018) director Alexandria Bombach recounts how two unassuming childhood friends became lesbian icons as folk-rock duo Indigo Girls.

To Gen X queer women, being into the Indigo Girls was basically like waving a pride flag. Listening to their uniquely poetic ballads felt like finding yourself and your community. Those same loyal fans helped make Amy Ray and Emily Saliers among the first out-and-proud musicians to go gold and platinum in the 80s and 90s – even putting a Grammy win to their name. Since the birth of their collaboration as teenagers in Decatur, Georgia, their music has expressed not just their camaraderie and mutual respect, but their commitment to LGBTQIA+ visibility and rights. >


Joan Baez I Am A Noise


< Tracing her stratospheric rise, this candid portrait of the legendary folk singer and civil rights activist illuminates a rich life not without its struggles.

Joan Baez is renowned for her soulful folk tracks, but she was vocal in more ways than one: she was a champion of the civil rights movement, in part due to her friendship with Martin Luther King Jr, and participated in the 1963 March on Washington. Yet her illustrious career – which, among many other achievements, helped to launch that of Bob Dylan before their relationship gave way – overshadowed her public and private battles, including anxiety as a child and trauma therapy’s confronting revelations uncovered later in life. >


Kiss The Future


< Produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, this film recounts how determined local musicians banded together with U2 to offer hope to Bosnians trapped in war-torn Sarajevo.

From 1992 to 1996, Sarajevo was subjected to routine shelling bombardments and sniper attacks. But despite the ever-present danger and threat of violence, the city’s art and music scenes carried on with force. Within bomb shelters and garages, disco nights sprang up, DIY punk gigs thrived and teenagers formed new bands. Then American journalist and aid worker Bill S. Carter ingeniously asked Bono to give an interview on Bosnian TV, which led to U2 arranging live satellite link-ups with Sarajevo residents. In the siege’s aftermath, the band put on a giant show in the bombed-out city for 45,000 fans – the largest gathering since the war began. >


Little Richard I Am Everything


< A rollicking deep dive into the life of one of rock ’n’ roll’s most exhilarating personalities, whose queerness was hidden in plain sight.

Born Richard Wayne Penniman, Little Richard was an iconic musician with a complicated legacy. A Black man from the US’s Deep South, he was deeply religious but not heterosexual – at different points announcing and decrying his orientation. With his penchant for theatrics, he was also a pioneering performer who anticipated the wilder creative liberties of today. Yet his signature style, which coupled big hair and lavish costumes with feverish musicality and a belting voice, tore through the racial divide of American music like few others had done before. >


Lost Angel The Genius of Judee Sill


< This essential music documentary asks: why is the 1970s’ most original and ethereal folk singer almost forgotten today?

In 1971 Los Angeles, Judee Sill was the first artist David Geffen signed to his label Asylum. While the multi-instrumentalist was often compared to Joni Mitchell, both Sill and her music were darker and stranger. She had a troubled youth and a self-destructive streak, but believed her startling blend of folk, classical and gospel was a gift from God. Critics admired her two albums, and she made fans of labelmates including Graham Nash and Jackson Browne, but her music was way too ambitious for FM radio. After a failed record deal, an abusive relationship and a return to her teenage heroin addiction, Sill overdosed in 1979, aged only 35. >


Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story


< The wild ride of maverick entrepreneur Michael Gudinski, who defied convention and revolutionised the Australian music industry over five decades.

Michael Gudinski was a music man, impresario and natural-born hustler. He repeatedly risked everything for his one obsession: Australian music. At age 19, he launched Mushroom Records and went on to sign and nurture iconic artists including Skyhooks, Split Enz, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Hunters & Collectors, Kylie Minogue, Archie Roach and Yothu Yindi. But he wasn’t content with just a label – his hunger extended to being on the road promoting legendary international acts such as Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen and Sting. There’s barely a living Australian whose life hasn’t been touched by the music he was behind. >


Mutiny In Heaven: The Birthday Party


< The thrilling, debauched and frequently hilarious adventures of the legendary Melbourne post-punk band, in their own words.

In February 1980, they were Boys Next Door on the brink of stardom. But they changed their name to The Birthday Party and moved to London, then to West Berlin, writing ever scarier, sexier, angrier music and turning their gigs into antagonistic art ordeals. Offstage, things were even more chaotic. Nick Cave, Rowland S. Howard, Mick Harvey, Tracy Pew and Phill Calvert froze and starved in increasingly squalid squats, descending into addiction, psychosis, imprisonment and, worst of all, creative differences. Yet by their final gig in 1983, howling like fallen angels under the chandelier at St Kilda’s Crystal Ballroom, The Birthday Party had achieved rock immortality. >


Squaring The Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)


< Music video auteur, revered photographer and Control (MIFF 2007) director Anton Corbijn takes history for a spin as he demystifies the vinyl record artwork of the masters.

Travel back to the golden era of 1970s rock ’n’ roll and ask, “What makes a great album cover?” Corbijn’s music roots are put to exceptional use here as he explores the world of Hipgnosis, whose work graced the LPs and the gatefolds of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Peter Gabriel and so many more. From the streets of Cambridge to the displays of museums and record collections all over the world, Squaring the Circle goes behind the music and investigates what gave the endearing excessiveness of 70s aesthetics such a lasting legacy.

Featuring wall-to-wall musicians as talking heads – including Paul McCartney (The Beatles), Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), David Gilmour and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), and Noel Gallagher (Oasis) – this encyclopaedic showcase is a must for anybody who misses the days when you could just judge a record by its cover. Whether you’re a music-loving vinyl collector or just a geek for graphic design, Squaring the Circle is a nostalgia-fuelled, one-of-a-kind opportunity to travel to the dark side of the moon and experience these artistic marvels on the big screen. >


regards Ian


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  • 3 weeks later...
On 22/07/2023 at 2:01 PM, Ian McP said:

Squaring The Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)





Saw it yesterday, highly recommended!! Two more screenings at MIFF then hopefully a general release soon.


Tue 15 Aug 4:15 pm ACMI 1

Sun 20 Aug 4:15 pm Kino 2 (selling fast)

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 22/07/2023 at 2:03 PM, Ian McP said:

Little Richard: I Am Everything



This was excellent! Releasing via Madman Entertainment later this year I believe.



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