Melbourne Fest Celebrates Curiosity, Oz Creativity

North Korea, Loach, polemics also feature

HONG KONG — J.C. Chandor’s almost dialog-free Robert Redford-starrer “All Is Lost” (pictured) and Pedro Almodovar’s “I’m So Excited” will bookend a Melbourne Int’l Film Fest that includes a section of North Korea-themed movies and the world premiere of “Tim Winton’s The Turning.”

“Turning” is an omnibus film which sees the likes of Mia Wasikowska and Cate Blanchett turn their hand to directing. They are among 17 Oz names who, under the guidance of “Balibo” director Robert Connolly, each helm one chapter of Tim Winton’s best-selling book about the unexpected turning points in ordinary people’s lives. The pic’s other directors include Warwick Thornton, Tony Ayres and Justin Kurzel.

The festival unspools during the Australian winter (July 25 – Aug 11) and includes 310 films organized across 17 program strands.

The North Korean curiosity includes recent East-West co-production “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” and “Aim High In Creation,” in which Oz helmer Anna Broinowski attempts to make a movie according to rules of the manifesto drawn up by the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The segment also showcases older titles from the DPRK, including 1987 melodrama “A Broad Bellflower” and 1986 wire-fu epic “Hong Kil Dong.”

Oz titles naturally get a big run out at the festival. They include “These Final Hours,” the feature debut of writer-director Zak Hilditch that represents a Down Under take on the apocalypse subgenre; Lynn-Maree Milburn’s documentary “In Bob We Trust,” which probes controversial Catholic provocateur Father Bob; Ivan Sen’s Hugo Weaving- and Ryan Kwanten-starring thriller “Mystery Road;” and Kim Mordaunt’s “The Rocket,” a Laos-set drama that grabbed a trio of prizes at the Tribeca festival in late April.

Brit provocateur Ken Loach will present his feature-length documentary “The Spirit of ’45,” examining the pivotal post-WWII era in British history.

In 2009 Loach pulled his feature “Looking for Eric” from the Melbourne fest, saying he could not support an event that had accepted funding from the state of Israel.

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