The Melbourne Festival is one of the world’s leading arts festivals and Australia’s premier celebration of art and culture from around the world. Each festival brings an eclectic array of the latest dance, theatre, music, visual arts, multimedia and film events from renowned or little-known acts all around the world.

This year’s festival, which runs from 10 – 26 October, features 11 films from a range of cultural and thematic backgrounds. Here is a run-down of this season’s film guide:

Trisha Brown Dance Company

Over five decades, from 1961 to 2012, Trisha Brown created more than 100 dance works, making her not only one of the most seminal choreographers of her generation but also one of the most prolific.While many of these pieces haven’t been performed in decades, most were painstakingly filmed and the resulting videos are presented here over the course of four illuminating sessions. Offering a panoramic view of Brown’s evolution as a dancer and choreographer, this program is an essential document of a life lived in dance, and a vital collection of works that framed the very language of modern choreography.

Finding Vivian Maier

When John Maloof bought an unmarked box of undeveloped negatives back in 2007, he had no idea that he had just stumbled upon one of the 20th century’s most important troves of street photography and self-portraiture.
The photographer: Vivian Maier, a secretive and eccentric nanny who over the course of her life took tens of thousands of photos of everyday Chicago – and showed them to no one. Finding Vivian Maier follows Maloof as he embarks on a quest to reveal the woman behind the Rolleiflex camera. Part retrospective, part detective story, Finding Vivian Maier is a touching portrait of a woman haunted by her past. For a contemporary age obsessed with self-documentation via all forms of technology, Vivian Maier was a pioneer.

22 Years of Big Hart

There are very few arts companies like Big hART – an organisation that embodies the belief that making great art while also creating social change is not only a possibility, but a vital necessity. Throughout its 22-year history, Big hART has created a remarkable body of film and documentary works that give voice to our nation’s invisible and forgotten. These two engaging programs of film present highlights from the Big hART archives.

!Women Art Revolution

From director Lynn Hershman Leeson comes this history of one of the most significant art movements of the late 20th century: the struggle to break down the barriers facing women in the art world. Meet the activists, performers, painters and dancers who put their art on the line for their ideals.


When Salma turned 13, her Tamil family locked her up for 25 years, forbidding her to study and forcing her into marriage.
Kim Longinotto (Pink Saris) charts the remarkable journey that saw Salma become one of India’s most famous poets and an ardent activist, challenging the injustice of deep-seated traditions.

The Noise of Cairo – Self-portrait in Handcuffs

Director Heiko Lange takes us to downtown Cairo to meet 12 artists who, in the wake of Mubarak’s overthrow, celebrate their newly won freedoms in paint, dance, photography, street art and theatre. See the new face of Egyptian art, flourishing at the epicentre of Egypt’s ongoing political upheaval.

Through A Lens Darkly

In this award-winning documentary, Thomas Allen Harris uses photos from his own family album to show how images of ‘blackness’ have affected his family and sense of self-worth as an African-American, making for a powerful testament to the redemptive powers of creativity.

The Sheik And I

When asked by the Emirate of Sharjah to make a film about ‘art as a subversive act’, filmmaker Caveh Zahedi was given one rule: don’t make fun of the sheik. So he did, a lot – making for a satirical, blasphemous frolic through free speech in the Middle East.

Playing With Fire

Being an actress in Afghanistan is a tenuous profession, as Greek director Anneta Papathanassiou discovers when she visits Kabul to teach ancient Greek theatre. Facing harsh criticism, exile and worse, the actresses are caught in the crosshairs of a fundamental struggle between art and culture.

The Alien’s Dream

In 2012, Italian filmmaker and provocateur Alberto D’Onofrio took a group of unknown street artists and turned them into political activist group called The Alien’s Dream.Staging a series of outrageous stunts, they highlighted the blatant absurdities of Italian politics – and, ludicrously, came to dominate the political media coverage.

Foxtel Presents

Sit back and relax with a drink at Foxtel’s pop-up cinema at the Foxtel Festival Hub. Enjoy great arts-based documentaries from the Bio Channel every Thursday at 5.30pm and Saturday at 3pm. These events are free and open to all Melbourne Festival attendees, music, arts and dance lovers!

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