Asian Cinema at the 55th MIFF

6:30pm, Wednesday August 16th.

Glurg… well, my wonderful festival has been topped off in the worst possible way by a nightmare bus ride home (curse my cheapskatery) and a nasty spot of flu that’s had me flat on my back the past few days. In the unlikely event that anyone’s still reading, I’d like to thank you for having done so! MIFF was a blast once again, made even better by the use of the magnificent Regent Theatre. Let’s just hope a lack of silly stage productions makes it available again next year.

Yergh… back to bed with me.

11:16am, Sunday August 13th.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is just as superb, baffling and frustrating on the big screen as it is on DVD… if anything, seeing it as it was intended makes the gulf between its good and bad qualities seem even wider. This weird and uneven conclusion to Park’s “vengeance trilogy” (a term I don’t really care for, but never mind) is held together by a performance of wondrous breadth and complexity from Lee Yeong-ae as the titular Lady, Guem-ja.

There’s a fun time to be had watching this movie with its use of various narrating characters within the film, filling in the back story with wit and energy, but its more refined and austere tone rob it of most of the urgency that made Sympathy for Mr Vengeance so uncompromisingly grueling and Old Boy such an incomparable mixture of the thrilling and the unwatchable. Worse, there is a disappointing lack of surprise in the execution (so to speak) of Guem-ja’s revenge plan, and I don’t think the scene involving the gathering of vengeful parents really works in the horror-comic way it’s intended.

Still, I have to admire Park Chan-wook for, at the very least, confounding expectations rather than attempting to top his other films in terms of gore and intensity. With much of the violence kept off-screen, it’s clear that this was one of his intentions: this is a very different sensibility to the one that gave us an extreme close-up of a claw hammer extracting one unfortunate goon’s tooth. If the third film doesn’t quite do it for me like the other two, it’s not for lack of originality. Where to now for Mr. Park?

I didn’t know a thing about Jafar Panahi before this festival began, but three films later and I’m hooked. The current Iranian it-film is Panahi’s ode to soccer, or more specifically soccer fandom, Offside, which played to a sellout and thorougly impressed crowd at the Regent theatre last night. It’s some considerable measure of the film’s charm that even a resolute soccer-knocker like me was suckered in by it. As you probably already know, it’s about young women trying to get into the stadium for a World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Bahrain.

A good 75% of the movie takes place at an entirely nondescript holding pen just outside the stadium where women who have disguised themselves (usually poorly) as men are herded, awaiting some legal punishment which is ominously never specified. But as Panahi showed in The White Balloon, he’s such a stunningly good director of non-professional actors (not to mention writer of dialogue) that he can create a riveting film out of the barest plots and locations. The actors, both the girls and the irresistibly likeable I-just-work-here soldiers who are holding them, are breathtakingly good. Make sure you check out James’s review if you haven’t already, for a true soccer fan’s perspective. Though he’d probably prefer I call it football.

1:15pm, Saturday August 12th

As the festival winds down and I’m faced with trying to cram as many movies as possible into the last couple of days, the dilemma arises over whether to see things I’ve never seen before, or repeats of things I liked. Or in the case of today, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance for the first time on the big screen or the highly regarded Iranian film It’s Winter. I think Park Chan-wook is going to win out. I have to see at lease one of the “vengeance trilogy” projected from celluloid.

As you may have noticed this is a fairly pointless post. Oh, actually it’s a very important post. Deni, as requested, here is a picture of a double-shot flat white, no sugar, from that little Italian diner on the corner of Bourke and Crossley, for some reason served in a latte glass, and taken with my phone because I felt a little self-conscious about dragging a camera out and taking a picture of a cup of coffee.

8:46am, Friday August 11th

Two really good movies yesterday, a good antidote to the inevitable festival burnout that’s starting to set in. First was a pleasant surprise from something I wasn’t really expecting to like, a demure South Korean character piece called Host and Guest. MIFF’s synopsis made it sound like one of those pontificating sorts of movies crammed with maudlin philosophising, and it sort of is, but two very good actors and a restrained screenplay manage to bring it off.

A wannabe film maker and some time university tutor (Kim Jae-rok) gets himself into a spot of bother when his bathroom door jams shut, locking him in. After an indeterminite amount of time, a Christian door-knocker (Kang Ji-Hwan) makes his way into the apartment and rescues him. So begins an awkward friendship between two very flawed men, one an angry and directionless, the other reserved to crippling point by his faith.

Describing the movie, I’m struck again by how surprising it was I liked it. I don’t like this type of movie. It very ambitiously sets itself up as, as the MIFF guide says, “a deliberation on contemporary South Korea” and manages by its modest means to be just that, without being unpleasantly pretentious.

Terms like “genre busting” are thrown around too often these days, but I can’t think of a better word for Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s latest, Invisible Waves. I like nothing more than a movie in which the style is completely disinterested in the story, and this one is a doozie.

Ostensibly a gangster thriller about a hitman on the run after a fling with the boss’s wife (sound familiar?), it’s more accurately a dry, dry, DRY physical comedy which even surpasses this festival’s 4:30 for sheer long-take bloody-mindedness. Asano shows us yet another aspect of his versatility as the hero, thoroughly likeable in spite of being thoroughly rotten, acting as an engaging guide through cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s breathtakingly beautiful tableaux. It’s slow and longish, but never outstays its welcome. I wish I’d seen it twice.

9:44pm, Wednesday August 9th

My apologies to the 1100-odd people gathering in the Regent theatre last night… I was the guy who went “Fuck!” the second time the monster appeared.

Last night was the first of two sellout screenings of Bong Joon-ho’s The Host, a movie with a reputation even bigger than the bizarre monster which inhabits it. It’s the most succcessful South Korean movie ever on its own turf, having even outsold the hyperbolic war movie Taegukgi. While it’s unlikely to hold that title for more than a year or two, it will always serve as a fine example of the magic being weaved in Korean cinema at this particular point in history, even when it comes to big dumb blockbusters.

A giant mutant tadpole kind of creature jumps out of the River Han one day and starts terrorising Seoul. In particular, it makes off with Hyun-seo, the apple of everyone’s eye in the Park family, who operate a snack bar on the riverbank. Initially assuming she’s dead, the family soon learn that she and other captives are being held in the beast’s lair underground, for reasons unknown.

The family comprises the centre of this most charming of monster movies, which has a truly remarkable ability to shift emotional gears at strange places without running off the road. And while the CGI creature looks top to bottom like a CGI creature, there is such creativity and originality in its design it is more than forgivable. And best of all, one of the stars is Bae Du-na, the oddball, bug-eyed actress who made Linda Linda Linda so mindblowing. Playing a much different character here, she’s still every bit as hypnotic.

12:55pm, Tuesday August 8th

Gah! Evil forces have conspired to limit my internet access, which is very frustrating. Also frustrating is the apparent incompatibility between my USB drive and the Macs in the festival lounge.

Anyway, where was I…

Sunday was THE festival highlight so far, not because of some hotshot new Korean film, but because of a 75-year-old silent movie called Love and Duty. This mainland Chinese film starring the legendary Ruan Lingyu is immeasurably superior to its more famous cousin, the very disappointing The Goddess, which I saw last week. A classic romantic epic, it covers much of the life of a woman over a hypnotic two and a half hours.

I never thought in a million years I�d be able to sit still through a 150-minute silent film, let alone actually enjoy it. Watching silent features is, let�s be perfectly honest here, nearly always a studious chore. It helps that it had an accompanying musical score being played live on a selection of different instruments, but it relies more on the fact that, unlike The Goddess, the movie is incredibly engaging and even if it�s equally predictable, brings a great deal more realism and character complexity to its story.

Interestingly beginning as a man�s story and gradually moving Ruan�s character into the centre of the narrative, it tells the tale of young lovers separated by an arranged marriage. When, later in life, the two meet again, the woman makes the agonising decision to leave her husband and children for her teenage love. You can see where the rest of the story is going from there, but that�s hardly the point. The main point is that Ruan is surely as great as any silent actor, and the range of different characterisations she has the chance to play in this film make it a textbook of expressive yet surprisingly subtle acting.

As great as Ruan is, though, it�s actually her arranged husband that becomes the heart and soul of the movie� this is not, as you might expect, a moustache-twisting ogre that who�s easy for her to leave (although he does have a very unconvincing moustache, even by silent movie standards) but a very decent man who seems just as unlucky to be married to someone that doesn�t love him as the heroine is. It�s this character as much as anything that make this surely one of the greatest silent movies ever made.

But speaking of hotshot new Korean films, The Unforgiven joins A Bittersweet Life as one of the great disappointments of the festival, for me. A very well regarded �independent� movie about life and times in the South Korean army, it�s ponderous and self-important as �independent� films often are. To be seen only, really, for its rather good acting, it�s yet another one of those two hour movies that should�ve been a 90 minute one.

Definitely the worst movie I’ve made it all the way through at this festival so far was yesterday’s The Willow Tree, a frankly insufferable melodrama from Iran which reminded me of a very, very bad Almodovar ripoff. Using Almodovar staples such as forbidden obsession, long term illness and miracle cures, it follow the blind-since-childhood, middle aged Yusef as he regains his sight and discovers the miracle of hot chicks for the first time, becoming enamored of a fresh-faced inlaw. It’s crap. I heard someone comment on the way out that it was very Hollywood. Bullshit, I thought, this plot would’ve been laughed out of any office in Hollywood.

1:00pm, Sunday August 6th

Yesterday’s screening of Jafar Panahi’s The Circle was replaced with the same director’s 1995 film The White Balloon, which will likely end up being one of my fondest memories of the festival. It’s minimalist drama/comedy making exceptional use of just a handful of nondescript locations and a marvellous lead performance by the seven year old Aida Mohammadkhani (I seem to be commending child performances a lot during this festival… well there are just that many great ones showing for some reason).

By turns very funny and extremely anxiety-inducing, it tells the story of a young girl who pesters her mother into giving her money to buy a fancy goldfish for New Year’s Day. Unfolding in real time, the girl of course loses the money (down a cellar grate) and the film consists of her tireless efforts to find someone who’ll help her retrieve it. Perhaps never in a movie have I been reminded so acutely of what it was like to be so young that nobody listens to you, and when they do they treat you like an idiot. This is a rare middle eastern film in that frankly little of it seems dependant on its location. Rather, the story is quite universal. So far I’ve seen two Panahi films and they’ve both been terrific; he’s perhaps a more accessible director than his mentor Abbas Kiarostami.

Anyway, it looks like we’re past the half way point of MIFF! That’s sad. There’s plenty more festival where that first half came from, though. You’ll be happy to know I’m slowly sussing out Melbourne public transport, discovering where the good coffee is and where the bad caesar salads are… i.e. seemingly everywhere.

‘Till later…

10:39am, Saturday August 5th

Woah, sorry about the hiatus, folks. I know many of you have had your noses against this page, obsessively hitting F5 (hey, I can dream).

I had a day off from festivalling yesterday, but back on Thursday afternoon I saw the disappointing documentary Nine Lives of Korean Cinema, basically an okay TV special featuring interviews with all the big names talking about whatever they like. I don’t know what this shapeless yawn of a documentary is doing in a film festival. Oh well. Much better than this “feature” though was the short that preceded it, Small Station, a trifling but very pleasant story about a mother and her mildly retarded son sitting at, well, a small (train) station. And that’s about it. It was from Taiwan and may have been funded by their tourism bureau, such a lovely postcard of a film it was.

Then it was off to the lovely and weird RMIT Capitol (pictured above, thanks Christian) for a mainland Chinese film, Dam Street, another reason the mainland is one of my favourite cinemas at the moment. Dam Street was a pretty wonderful mixture of traditional narrative styles and occasional flights of long-take fancy, telling the story of how a woman’s unwed pregnancy in her teenage years continues to haunt her later in life. The movie oscillates between gentle warmth and some fairly heavy stuff, and its lasting impression is that yet another of the world’s more exciting directors hails from China.

Later in the evening I decided to watch some live action entertainment in the form of another panel discussion, this time with Kim Jee-woon, director of A Bittersweet Life. The questions from hosts James Hewison (who ended up framed out of my one half decent photo, sorry James) and Garry Seven were few and far between because Mr. Kim’s answers were, shall we say, very detailed, mostly concentrated upon his newest film. Still, it makes a change from the pre-prepared, one or two sentence, press junket style responses you all too often see at these types of occasions.

Must run. Late for my next film.

1:30pm, Thursday August 3rd

Two movies yesterday.

Linda, Linda, Linda is one of those entirely ordinary, entirely mainstream, entirely unremarkable films which is just so perfect it fairly blows you away. The simple highschool comedy about four girls putting on a performance for their school’s annual festival achieves, by its entirely predictable ending, some kind of joyful transcendence. It’s really quite something.

The spare plot is kicked off by the breakup of an established girlband, owing to a combination of injury and infighting. The remaining band members, keyboardist turned guitarist Kei, bassist Nozomi and drummer Kyoko decide to recruit a lead singer at short notice and perform at the festival anyway. So they bully a shy, dippy Korean exchange student, Son, into fronting their band, and start practicing.

And that’s about it. The movie seems to make a deliberate choice not to delve too deeply into any of the girls’ lives, suggesting more than it actually shows, which gives it a terrific living-in-the-now kind of energy. The most memorable character is Son, played by Bae Du-na in a performance which turns what could have been a cheap comic character into the heart of the movie, helped greatly by her possession of the two biggest, wisest eyes I’ve ever seen.

And if I told you that the glorious final performance features the girls barefoot in soaking wet school uniforms you’d probably think “Well duh, it’s Japanese”, right? And I wouldn’t blame you. But here’s the thing: there’s nothing exploitative or even faintly fetishistic about the whole affair… not that there’d be anything wrong with that, but Linda, Linda, Linda’s innocence is a refreshing surprise.

Kim Jee-woon’s A Bittersweet Life was disappointing; in spite of its slick flashiness it really failed to engage me. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood. I’ll probably take another look at it some day. But I’ve got limited time to be sitting here and I just spent a little too long gushing about the Lindas, so maybe I’ll get back to A Bittersweet Life on another occasion.

1:28pm, Wednesday August 2nd

Rampo Noir:

It started badly. Is there anything worse than settling down in a movie theatre, making your way through the slides and ads, beaming up at the screen in anticipation… and then seeing, to your horror, in the top left corner of the screen, that familiar word: “Play”. The on-screen-display of a DVD player. I’m not against watching DVDs projected on the big screen entirely, I just don’t like to be surprised by it. I hasten to add it’s my own fault for going in ignorant, as the projection format is always listed in MIFF’s film guide and on its website. I shall be more careful in future.

Rampo Noir is, they tell me, an anthology of four noirish, horrorish, shortish films, each featuring Asano, one of which is divided into two parts and bookends the other three. I don’t even remember the opening stanza, or perhaps I have repressed it, but the first full part, called Mirror Hell, is about a mirror that melts people’s faces. It is directed by someone for whom “noir” means having the camera on a stupid angle in every single shot, and it somehow manages to make even a fairly protracted S&M scene crashingly boring.

The second full part, Caterpillar, was an improvement, but that’s not saying much. It was the story of a badly disfigured quadruple amputee, a torso with a head, basically, and the woman who loves him. “Loves him”, of course, encompassing slicing him up and whipping him a whole lot. Whether the torso with a head was enjoying this or not I was never quite clear on.

At the very least, Caterpillar was an improvement visually. I honestly couldn’t tell what the shooting media was on either part since it was projected on DVD and looked horribly digital and blocky anyway, but I’d venture a guess that Mirror Hell was shot on DV and Caterpillar on HD or maybe even film. Or maybe the people making the latter just knew what they were doing.

Anyway, it was toward the end of Caterpillar that, miraculously, ACMI’s DVD player decided to bow out in protest (must have had one of those new fangled “taste” chips installed). In spite of the fact that I was kind of enjoying Caterpillar (if only because it was washing away the memory of Mirror Hell) I decided to take my leave of the theatre at this point, along with maybe a fifth of the rest of the audience, for fear that the fellows in the projection room might fix the problem and subject me to any more of this movie.

But that’s just me. Deni gives a very fine alternative opinion on the film in her review. It may have made a difference that she got to watch it in such a way that the image was not constructed from pixels the size of a human head.

8:50pm, Tuesday August 1st

Today I’ve seen Cave of the Yellow Dog a very, shall we say, nice film… which could charm you or grate on you depending on your predilections. It’s a German-backed Mongolian film from the director of The Weeping Camel, and very similar to that. Telling the story of a nomadic family who farm sheep and goats to make cheese, the movie uses a real family, a father, a mother and three ridiculously cute kids, the oldest of which looks about eight. Their idyllic life is rocked a little when the older girl finds a small puppy in the wild, and the father has concerns that it may have been raised by wolves, presenting a threat to the family’s flock and liveliood.

Story wise, this is a classic Hollywood cute-kids-with-cute-animals tale, simply transplanted into an unfamiliar setting. Luckily it’s a pretty hypnotic unfamiliar setting, and the movie is well worth watching because of that. This should do really good business with the Movie Show watching, Palace cinemas attending type of crowd.

Anyhoo I feel like I should be saying more but I’ve got to rush off to Rampo Noir!

11:07am, Monday July 31st

Well, four out of five ain’t bad. Being a little tired and emotional from the previous evening, I skipped one of my screenings today, A Hero’s Journey, which I’ll hopefully catch later in the festival. The others were a mixed bag.

The Goddess was, I have to say, mostly a disappointment. I am certainly glad to have had the chance to see this legendary Chinese silent film, and seeing a completely silent (i.e. no music) movie in a crowded cinema was an interesting experience. But the movie itself is basically just your prototypical social realism drama, with some old fashioned attitudes about women thrown in. I really felt that this movie tried to play this woman’s sacrifice for her son’s sake off as a happy ending, but in reality it’s the sort of ending that only a nut like Lars von Trier would find happy.

There’s no doubt that the tragically fated Ruan Lingyu was a real movie star, though, and she’s the main reason to watch it. The overall gender politics of the film just bothered me, I guess, and I’m not really willing to let historical relativism stop it from bothering me.

Next up I was off to Perhaps Love at the RMIT Capitol. This is the sort of movie that can’t help but infuriate you at least some of the time. It’s a big, garish, overblown romantic musical which plays around a little with different levels of narrative reality and is at least 20 minutes too long. In all these senses, it’s this year’s Princess Raccoon, though perhaps a tad more accessible. I suggest you find this movie on DVD, watch it till you get bored, then fast forward for 10 minutes or so, start watching again, repeat as needed.

4:30 was a nice surprise, it struck me as a sort of a Tsai Ming-liang lite, with its exploration of the comical potential of long takes, when you have characters just moving about inside them, doing inexplicable things. 4:30 is the story of Xiao Wu (Yuan Xiao Li in the best child performance you’re ever likely to see) a boy of about 10 trying desperately to make a connection with the mysterious, deeply depressed Korean tenant with whom he’s sharing his house (in his mother’s unexplained absence). It’s difficult to describe just how hypnotic this film is, though it has a lot to do with the tremendous central performance as well as director Royston Tan’s very fine composition. Whether it works on the intended emotional level I’m not sure about, but it is a terrific film nonetheless.

In case you’re interested, the one major flaw of Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley is that it’s far too loud to sleep through. The best I can say about it is that Cillian Murphy is more of a movie star than I previously thought he was, but the movie itself, set over the formative years of the IRA, looks like something they just kept making until they ran out of money. Skirmish after skirmish, atrocity after atrocity, it goes on and on. This is a worse movie than Neil Jordan’s much maligned Michael Collins. Apparently, Torture + Socialism = Palme d’Or.

9:55am, Sunday July 30th

Yesterday I saw only one film, but in punishment for my laziness thus far I’m going to subject myself to five in a row today! This is hardcore festivalling now.

Yesterday’s movie was Crimson Gold, the second newest of the five Jafar Panahi features MIFF is showing this year. It’s a wonderful movie, funny and rather infuriating. Like so many Iranian films, its story is rooted in theocratic oppression. It’s a loose, episodic character study of Hussein, a tall, fat, shambling man in perhaps his mid 20s played by non-actor Hossain Emadeddin in a performance that is barely expressive, yet cumulatively overwhelming.

The Hussein character is an enigma, alright. He’s a some-time petty thief and some-time pizza deliverer, but a full time moper and dreamer about better things. Panahi seals Hussein’s fate in the opening scene, so the rest of the movie becomes the story of how he was driven to that point.

I was so impressed by Crimson Gold that I decided to ditch the screening of Takeshis’ and go see the Panahi Q&A at the Forum lounge instead. After the Radio National lady hosting the session finally shut up, Panahi talked at some length, through his translator, about the trials and tribulations involved with making politically charged movies under an oppressive Islamic regime. He’s clearly a director very keen to talk about his work, and he took questions from the audience until the session ran well over time. A not-very-good picture of the event can be seen above.

Today’s agenda: The Goddess, A Hero’s Journey, Perhaps Love, 4:30 and my first non-Asian/Persian film for the year, Cannes winner The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

11:04pm, Friday July 28th

I just got back from the screening of Fearless, which was introduced – and quite wonderfully – by its director, Ronny Yu. Blatantly a labour of love, Fearless is a (highly fictionalised) historical biopic of Chinese national hero Hou Yuanjia, and is as such painted with the incredibly broad strokes one tends to expect from a story about a national hero, which also has to be a kickass martial arts picture.

At the ripe old age of 43, Jet Li can still bring it. Fearless is yet another glorious showcase, and also, reportedly, his farewell to the wushu movie. It plays very much like a summarising film, taking special care to explore the philosophy behind Chinese martial arts. There’s nothing in it especially remarkable, though of course the fight scenes are as top of the line as you’d expect from the combined talents of Jet Li, Yuen Wo Ping and Ronny Yu. Narratively, though, it suffers from the same disease of sputtering stops and starts that infects nearly all biopics, and one wishes more care had been taken weaving a little structure into the screenplay so that the movie stood up a little better. But this is a quibble, really, it’s still essential viewing.

12:20pm, Friday July 28th

So last night I finally got to see some actual films at this film festival, and I�m happy to report they were two excellent ones.

Election 2 is a worthy sequel, even if it lacks a little of the grandeur which so impressed me in the original. It also lacks Big Tony, who you may remember suffered minor head injuries toward the end of the first film. Filling in for him is Louis Koo, a minor player in the first film and the antagonist (or maybe protagonist) in this one. Louis isn�t the bombastic one man show Tony is, but he manages to match Simon Yam for steely cool, which is no mean feat.

The only flaw of the movie, if you could call it that, is that it�s pretty much more of the same. While the first part concerned the rites of violence involved with gaining power in organised crime, the second ratchets that same theme up to even more disturbing extremes. The other element it introduces harks back once again to the Coppola movies: the impossibility of using organised crime as a temporary leg-up into the world of legitimate business. Just when you think you�re out, they pull you back in.

Luxury Car is a bit of a curiosity. Wang Chao has, much to the surprise of fans of contemporary mainland Chinese cinema, essentially made a European movie. He has abandoned the strictly constrained long-take style seen in his lovely Day and Night in favour of an admittedly pretty, but fairly unremarkable, traditional continuity form. The good news is, though, it�s in service of a pretty great story populated by four of the best characters I�ve seen in ages.

Beginning with the simple and frankly cheesy premise of an ageing small town schoolteacher coming to the city of Wuhan to find his estranged son before his wife�s death, Luxury Car segues into a very humorous character study involving the man�s daughter, her scummy but affable pimp boyfriend, and a retiring policeman with strange motivations who at least pretends help the father on his search. This odd foursome thrown together in the middle third of the movie is a sheer delight, even if the final act didn�t really ring true with me and may even have jumped from Europe to Hollywood. But don’t get me wrong, I loved the film, and even if it is a sellout, it’s about as good a sellout as I can remember seeing.

Election 2 is repeating at the Forum Theatre on Sunday the 6th of August at 7pm, and Luxury Car shows again at the Forum on Saturday the 5th, also at 7pm. Clashes notwithstanding, I�ll be seeing both again. But first, Fearless!

6:10pm, Thursday July 27th

Okay, so I�ve discarded my straw hat and overalls and taken the nearest hay-cart from lil old Adelaide to the big smoke, Melbourne, land of many pigeons, crazy taxi drivers and well-attended film festivals. So far I�ve only gotten lost once. As I sit here in the spectacular dimness of the Forum Theatre�s festival lounge I must confess to you that the festival opened last night, it�s now late afternoon and I haven�t seen a damn thing yet. But this post isn�t about movies, it�s just a welcoming note because Deni is (hopefully) drawing your attention to this blog with an unprecedented mid-week update.

Anyway, I�m just about to head off to the magnificent Regent Theatre to see Johnnie To�s Election 2, the sequel to the film that closed last year�s MIFF and was one of my personal highlights of the festival. Very excited about that. Though I remember comparing Election to The Godfather Part 2, so let�s hope I don�t have to compare Election 2 to The Godfather Part 3.

Then it�s on to Luxury Car, a Chinese film with a great rep, having won the Un Certain Regard at this year’s Cannes.

Well, wish me luck. Will report back tonight or, more likely, tomorrow morning.

10:56am, Wednesday July 26th

And just because I needed to test out a picture, here’s one of Iranian festival guest and 2006 Filmmaker in Focus Jafar Panahi.

3:13pm, Tuesday July 25th

Our official transmission will begin Thursday. If you’re looking for something to do in the meantime, try saying “55th MIFF” five times really fast, then let me know how you went. Over and out!

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