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Editor’s Picks: The Films You Can’t Miss From MIFF Play’s 90-Title Strong Program

By Rick Stephens
12th Aug 2021

If you, like me, were hopeful we had MIFF 69 in the bag, you’d also be feeling the weight of this morning’s announcement. And while the idea of having to wait another year to be ushered down the aisles of The Forum or The Capitol with popcorn and cocktail in hand isn’t a pleasant one to ruminate on, it’s not all bad news. 

Along with a bumper line-up of 60+ flicks on MIFF’s online streaming platform, MIFF Play, the cinephile in us all can rejoin in the fact that another 30 odd films have been added just this morning, which depending on how long lockdown lasts, should see us through toward the end of the month. The program should no doubt be explored to its fullest, though if 90+ films feels overwhelming, a great place to start would be these five captivating flicks from one of MIFF’s most considered programs yet.

Freshman Year

American Pie but make it relevant for 2021, and give it an indie spin. Freshman Year is part hang-out comedy, part teen drama about an endearingly awkward first year college student navigating life, love, lust and the lessons that come with them. Behind it is 23yo writer, director and star Cooper Raiff, which makes for a sense of realness and relatability not often found in frisky teen flicks.


Directors Arie and Chuko Esiri are likened to a Nigerian version of the Safdie Brothers (Uncut Gems, Good Time). Tense in some ways, cathartic in others, and absolutely filled with heart, Eyimofe gives the audience a stunningly nuanced look-in to life in Lagos through the story of two strangers searching for something more in life.


One of MIFF’s true undiscovered gems for this year’s program is Topside, which uncovers what life is like for those living in the eerie subterranean tunnels of New York. The narrative is told via a shatteringly good performance of a mother/daughter duo who are forced above ground by authorities—what ensues is a captivating tale of the two trying to make their way home.

Riders of Justice

There’s a blistering intensity to Riders of Justice that’s matched only by its impeccably timed comedic value. It stars Mads Mikkelson as in his native tongue as army vet Markus, who leads a rag tag group of vigilantes attempting to shut down a terror group who murdered his wife. It’s full-throttle 90% of the time, leaving the audience to relish in its nuanced Danish humour.

Palazzo di Cozzo

There’s a palpable hype amongst locals for the Aussie doco centered around furniture and homeware mogul, Franco Cozzo. The man possesses a certain urban legend-status thanks to his iconic ads and reputation in the community, though the film is touted to explore far more than one may assume. And after yesterday’s announcement, MIFF has added Palazzo di Cozzo to the MIFF Play program.

Scope out more things to do in lockdown here.

Image credit: supplied

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