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Melbourne International Film Festival today announces two special live music events – with a performance by former Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore leading the charge. In an exclusive for Melbourne, the iconic art rock and experimental musician will grace the stage of the Astor Theatre, performing music that he composed to accompany four seminal works from pioneering experimental filmmaker, Maya Deren.  

Born in Kiev in 1917, Deren was a Ukrainian-American director, dancer, poet and photographer, and considered one of the most important and influential avant-garde filmmakers in the United States. Her debut work, the 14-minute Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), is a surreal, unsettling and dreamlike experience that is often credited with kick-starting the American avant-garde movement.    

“Maya Deren is an avant-garde godmother,” says Moore. “Her mysterious images have burned into my consciousness like fiery, exotic dreams we are not supposed to talk about; each one a secret location of a symbolic prediction made with deep, dark magic in her Sibyl cave.” 
Through his work with Sonic Youth, Moore established himself as one of the formative figures on the boundaries of no wave and alt-rock, and has collaborated on film scores and soundtracks for directors such as Fabrice Gobert, Olivier Assayas and Richard Linklater. 

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Exclusive to MIFF, Moore will perform the original scores he composed for Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, as well 1944’s At Land and 1946’s Ritual in Transfigured Time – together, three of her most celebrated works. Additionally, Moore has composed a new score for Deren’s unfinished short, Witch’s Cradle, which was filmed in Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery and features Marcel Duchamp.

“We’re delighted to welcome Thurston Moore to MIFF,” said Al Cossar, MIFF Artistic Director. “He’s someone who has rattled our senses and redefined the possibilities of music over the last 40 years. To combine his own cinematic sensibilities with the work of such an icon of cinema as Maya Deren will be a rare, transporting, transfixing opportunity for MIFF and Melbourne audiences, and one not to be missed.”

Complementing the live performance will be Thurston Moore: Ecstatic Soundtrack– an in-conversation event presented in partnership with the Wheeler Centre. Here, Moore will join host Jacinta Parsons todiscuss his career as a musician and writer, while sharing details of his latest foray into the world of cinema. 
Dramatically redefining the act of live performance and cinema, Hear My Eyes returns to MIFF after sold out seasons in 2017 and 2018 with Zambian-born, Australian-based neo soul artist Sampa The Great performing live alongside Girlhood – director Céline Sciamma’s defiantly electrifying portrait of young women of colour growing up in the Paris projects. Building on her reputation for assured and astutely observed studies of female adolescence with her previous films Tomboy (MIFF 2011) and Water Lilies, writer/director Céline Sciamma’s acclaimed work is a beautiful and emotionally affecting coming-of-age story. 

One of the most celebrated local musicians of the past three years, Sampa The Great has firmly established herself amongst the new guard of performers finding their voice at the intersection of neo-pop, spoken word and soul. Winner of the 2017 Australian Music Prize for her critically lauded album Birds and the BEE9, Sampa has supported the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, Thundercat and Joey Bada$$, and is set to play the 2019 Glastonbury Festival in June.
For this world premiere Hear My Eyes event, Sampa will combine her signature bravura of “fluttering, breathy soul” with elements of blues and hip-hop to reinterpret Jean-Baptiste de Laubier’s score. The result will be a vibrant, original live soundtrack that brings exciting new energy to this uplifting celebration of female friendship and empowerment.

Girlhood screens courtesy of Palace Films.

Event Details 

Thurston Moore Plays Maya Deren
Friday, 2 August
The Astor Theatre 
Tickets: $77 Full / $71.50 MIFF member
Bookings: Thurston Moore: Ecstatic Soundtrack
Saturday, 3 August
Plenary 3, MCEC
Tickets: $35 Full / $30 MIFF member 
Bookings: Hear My Eyes: Girlhood with Sampa The Great
Saturday, 3 August
Plenary 2, MCEC 
Tickets: $55 full / $52.50 concession / $50 MIFF member