The Melbourne International Film Festival is my favourite way to celebrate winter in Melbourne, and this year, like other years, I’ve invested in a 10 film festival mini-pass.

Selecting the 10 films is always a protracted process of creating a longlist, a shortlist and the final 10. It requires the negotiation of RM’s tastes, coordination of social and film  schedules and a prediction as to post-work energy levels.

This year I’ve had some requests to publish my longlist. I should state now there are 200+ films on offer over the three weeks, and your film-going tastes may not necessarily match mine.

Off the top of my head I am generally biased against films which will be seen on general release later in the year (researched with the help of IMDB), shorts, anything described as ‘slow’ or ‘meditative’ and films featuring endangered animals, zombies or orchestral accompaniments. I am generally biased towards selecting at least one French/German film, one Nordic or Eastern European comedy, one Korean horror film, a quirky documentary, something ‘feelgood’ or ‘uplifting’ and maybe an international festival winner from Cannes, Berlin or Venice.

As the tagline for this year’s festival says ‘It’s a matter of taste’.

The festival guide isn’t available to the public until Friday 9 July, so unfortunately I can’t link to the film descriptions yet.

Homegrown – Australian Cinema

Making It Handmade! – The punk side of craft in Melbourne.
Cane Toads: The Conquest – Because I’m originally from Queensland. And it’s in 3D!
Little Sparrows – Three daughters return to be by their mother’s side when she discovers she has breast cancer.
Blame – Justice, revenge and the perfect murder gone wrong.

International Panorama – International films

**The Messenger – a harrowing, insightful and surprisingly sensitive war movie. Winner of Silver Berlin Bear for Best Screenplay at 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.
Enter the Void – film using new shooting techniques and ambitious special effects and set in techno neon-coloured Tokyo.
Medal of Honour – dry, ironic, humorous Romanian film about a miserable curmudgeon.
The Trotsky – comedy about 17 year old student who believes he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.
A Somewhat Gentle Man – minimalist crime-comedy from Norway.

Flawed Geniuses – The world’s greatest minds

**The Genius and the Boys – Doco about the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine…and unrepentant paedophile.

First Encounters – First time directors

The Day Will Come – dramatic psychological thriller about a secret 30 years in the making.
The Unloved – from actress Samantha Morton, a story based on her first-hand experience growing up in foster care.

Wild Things – Animals (yes I know I said I was biased against them earlier!)

Nenette – story of 40 year orangutan caged in a Paris zoo.

Neighbourhood Watch – Asian cinema

Hahaha – a comedy receiving the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section this year at Cannes.
City of Life and Death – Can I sit through 135 minutes of a film about the Rape of Nanking?
Like a Dream – Chinese man falls in love with the doppelganger of his recurring dream woman. Directed by an old school-mate of my mum’s, Clara Law.
**The Actresses – Six Korean actresses in a tongue-in-cheek mockumentary. An excuse to watch some beautiful women on screen.
**Au revoir Taipei – perky urban dramedy through the night markets and alleyways of Taipei.
**The Housemaid – a remake of a 1960 shocking domestic gothic thriller.

Docos

**La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet – French and ballet. Right up my alley.
**Picture Me: A Model’s Diary – apparently a hard-hitting expose on the exploitative world of modelling.
**Cooking History – 6 wars, 10 recipes, 60,361,024 dead.
Bananas! – court case highlighting First World practices exploiting Third World workers.
Catfish –  Twist-filled true story of a young man fooled by Facebook.
Osadne – charming, witty documentary following six village leaders of a tiny town in Slovakia, where even the cows are leaving.
**Teenage Paparazzo –  Because Adrian Grenier yes MAN HUNK VINCENT CHASE FROM ENTOURAGE is going to be in town to introduce his film about a 13 year old paparazzi photographer.
The Woman with the 5 Elephants – Follows a translator as she returns to the Ukraine since the war and muses on living under Stalinist persecution and Nazi occupation.

States of Dissent – Political documentaries

Petition – 12 years of secret footage telling the story of persecuted Chinese citizens with grievances.
**The Juche Idea – Faux documentary studying the North Korean dictator’s theories on filmmaking.
**The Red Chapel – filmmaker takes two Danish-Korean comedians on a tour of North Korea to expose the tyrannical regime for what it is. Winner of the Grand Jury prize at 2010 Sundance.

Night Shift – Late night sessions

Dream Home – Hong Kong property prices push a woman over the edge in this slasher film.
The Clinic – Psychological thriller based on true events about a pregnant mother who finds her baby has been removed from her body.
**Rubber – The story of a killer rubber tyre. Too ridiculous to miss!

Backbeat – Music docos

Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam – Doco about Islamic punk rockers touring America. ‘Bringing a new brand of punk to the mosque pit.’

I’m going to be spending the evening narrowing my choices down and I’ll put an asterix against those films that make the final cut – and if you end up at the same films please let me know what you think!

The Melbourne International Film Festival 2010 will run from 22 July to 8 August. Program will be available online and in The Age on Friday 9 July. Finally, here’s a useful list of films which will be getting general release, either in theatres of films.