1 October, 2019
MIFF is over for another year. Fortunately for those of us in Melbourne, there are plenty of stellar movie-watching opportunities courtesy of the many niche film festivals that fill October.
Take a seat and grab some popcorn as we give you our picks of the music-centric flicks at the Italian, Greek and Jewish film festivals.
Ok, this could be the one tenuous music-link of the bunch, but we’re standing by it. This film stars Tina Arena – that’s the musical link. But hear us out. This Australian-Italian romantic drama is the debut feature from director Nick Conidi and tells a story close to his heart.
Melbourne, 1953 – five-year-old Robert is promised in marriage to newborn Angela by their fathers Sal (Paul Mercurio) and Joe, a connected man. Angela’s mother (Arena) has her misgivings. Twenty years later, Angela is a modern young woman with aspirations outside the home and Robert has just returned from study abroad. As a web of secrets, lies and revelations surface, it teaches everyone involved that love, like life, can never be perfectly arranged.
This name you’ll recognise. From director Ron Howard comes an inspiring documentary about the life of charismatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, who brought opera to the masses. Featuring never-before-seen-footage, concert performances and intimate interviews, Howard’s film casts a warm and informative light on the life of one of modern music’s biggest names – and certainly one of its biggest voices.
When Tomatoes Met Wagner
This off-beat documentary follows a community trying to survive austerity and reinvigorate their corner of the struggling Greek economy. Alekos and Christos are cousins running an organic farm with the help of some hard-working women and classic music blasted across the fields. While their product packed up and shipped overseas as an expensive specialty, they struggle to compete in a trendy market.
Maria by Callas
Another one for the opera lovers – Maria by Callas is the first film to tell the life story of Greek-American opera singer Maria Callas. Told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs and private letters, the film uncovers the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings to international stardom.
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
One of Broadway’s best-loved and most celebrated musicals, Fiddler on the Roof, is celebrated in this joyful documentary exploring its creative roots and cultural impact – and its tremendous popularity. Featuring interviews with the musical’s creators, performances from productions around the world and some lively commentary from famous admirers, it’s a heart-warming journey to uncover a musical phenomenon.
God of the Piano
Concert pianist Anat has never been able to reach her composer father’s musical standards. She rests her hopes on her unborn son, and when he arrives, takes extreme measures to ensure he lives up to the dreams of his grandfather. But, as her son grows up and confronts his grandfather, Anat must finally stand up for her son. This debut feature from director Itay Tal features an incredible score that is a character unto itself.
Bagels meet bongos in this joyous telling of the little-known story of the Jewish love affair with Latin music. This energetic documentary features a lovable, somewhat zany, collection of dancers from the 1950s who are still dancing and sharing their passion for mambo.