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Coinciding with the 10 year anniversary celebrations of East Timor's Independence, MIFF 2009 will open on Friday July 24 with Balibo, the political thriller about Australian journalists killed in East Timor in 1975 - and director Rachel Perkins’ all singing all dancing music spectacular Bran Nue Dae will close the festival with a Gala event on Saturday August 8.

“In only the second year of our film fund we are proud to be positioning the entire festival between the bookends of two new and very diverse Australian features. We open on a serious political note and will close in a riotous excess of colour and movement” said MIFF Executive Director Richard Moore.

In Balibo, director Robert Connolly (The Bank, Three Dollars) brings to life the moving and true story of five Australian journalists who go to East Timor in 1975 to cover Indonesia’s invasion. Their story is told through the eyes of a sixth Australian journalist, Roger East, who is lured to East Timor by José Ramos-Horta, to investigate the truth behind the death of the five men. Balibo features Anthony LaPaglia, Damon Gameau, Gyton Grantley and Nathan Phillips among a large ensemble cast.

"an important opportunity"

“Having the World Premiere of Balibo in my home town and as opening night at MIFF is a terrific honour. It's also an important opportunity to celebrate the resilience of the East Timorese in seeking independence, and the important role played here in Victoria by the families of the Balibo Five who championed the East Timorese cause over so many years” said Robert Connolly.

Closing Night film Bran Nue Dae (will screen at encore sessions on Sunday August 9), based on the popular comedic musical of the same name, features a cast including Geoffrey Rush, Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins, Deb Mailman, Nigali Lawford, Tom Budge, Dan Sultan and Jessica Mauboy.

This year’s MIFF will screen almost 300 films from major festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, Rotterdam, Berlin and Toronto Festivals. The programme will feature the work of world-renowned filmmakers, and more than a couple of unknown gems, in its popular Homegrown and Neighbourhood Watch, International Panorama, Backbeat, Animation Gallery, Next Gen and Documentaries series. MIFF also hosts one of the most highly regarded short film competition in the Asia Pacific - Best MIFF shorts screens approximately 100 short films, competing for a prize money of $35,000.

Published May 21, 2009

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Opening night film

Bran Nue Dae
Closing night gala

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