What to stream online from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

Close up of a clapboard

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted August 05, 2021

From comedy to drama, sing-a-longs, docos and everything in between, we round up the best films to watch online from MIFF this year.

Cinephiles, rejoice! The Melbourne International Film Festival, affectionately referred to as MIFF, is back for another year of screening delights across your TV screens at home. That's right, 'MIFF69' (celebrating the number of years the festival has been running) has gone online and will be streaming under the banner - 'MIFF Play.'

For those new to the MIFF scene, the not-for-profit is the biggest film festival in Australia, and counts itself amongst Cannes as one of the oldest film festivals in the world. Presenting what MIFF refers to as ‘a curated global program of innovative screen experiences and the largest showcase of exceptional Australian filmmaking,’ the festival aims to bring global stories to Australian audiences at home, while supporting the arts in the cultural capital of Australia. 

So, let’s look at some of the highlights of the festival. With over 100 titles that can be streamed from around the world, there’s something for everyone at MIFF so you can enjoy your international film experience from home. 

Stream the best of these MIFF films if…

You love a scare

Adrenalin junkies who love a scream will be in good company with Psychomania, focused on a 'death-obsessed bikie gang' who go on a murderous rampage after becoming zombie-fied.

For one closer to home, try Coming Home in the Dark, which focuses on a trip to the NZ countryside that turns into a nightmare. Enter at your own risk!

You love your indie films

Those who stay away from the mainstream may fall in love with Freshman Year, which concentrates on a student’s relationship with his resident advisor at college. It impressed enough at South by Southwest (SXSW) to win the Narrative Feature Grand Jury Award, and  is notably written, directed, and acted in by 23-year-old Cooper Raiff. 

You love to laugh

It's been a challenging 18 months, so why not let yourself have a laugh? In Norway's Ninjababy, a party girl realises she is six months pregnant as she naviagtes life and love with an awkward aikido instructor. 

You love love

Next, whilst MIFF’s closing night film, Language Lessons, could arguably fit under drama or comedy, it’s apt that in ‘these troubled times,’ Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales’ film about connecting through screens can still fit under new-age romance. Taking home the Audience Award at SXSW, the film unfolds as they bond over 'screens, apps and devices' in a nod to the Covid age.

Popcorn in a white and red striped box

Join the festival from home with MIFF Play, where there are more than 100 film experiences for movie lovers to enjoy. Image: Getty. 


You love a doco

If you prefer to come out of your films with facts and knowledge aplenty, then the doco strand is right up your alley. Look into The Gig Is Up, focusing on the ethics and a behind-the-curtain look at the impact of the new-age ‘gig economy.’

Another hot contender on the documentary trail this year is Australia’s Ablaze. Narrated by Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri man Bill Onus’ grandson Tiriki, it focuses on the Indigenous rights movement – and how his grandfather may have been the first known Aboriginal filmmaker.

You love something weird and whimsical

There’s always something at MIFF that makes you turn your head and go, really? For 2021, that moment is in Set!, a doco focused on the competitive act of – wait for it – precise table setting.

 You live for drama

In Andreas Fontana's Azor (French/Spanish), a Swiss private banker and his wife head to Buenos Aires, where he falls into the glamorous world of the rich and elite. But the military dictatorship keeps making citizens 'disappear' - will his new found friendships put him on the wrong side? 

You love to keep it short

Quick and snappy is your kind of film. We would be amiss not to mention supporting local talent with the Accelerator Shorts program featuring emerging Australian filmmakers, and the Best MIFF Shorts encompassed from a variety of genres as selected by the MIFF Shorts Awards Jury and the MIFF Shorts Programmer.

A group of people on a couch watching a laptop

From comedy to the weird and wonderful, there's something for everyone when streaming the Melbourne International Film Festival. Image: Getty. 


You love music on film

Presented by Triple R, the ‘Music on Film’ strand of the festival provides such delights as Sisters With Transistors, a doco about the women who pioneered electronic scores on film; We Are the Thousand, the true story of a small town who gathered together in song to get the Foo Fighters to come and play for them. Magic. 

You love a sing

The main event here is MIFF's opening film CODA, which swept up four gongs at the Sundance Film Festival. The film focuses on Ruby, a child of deaf parents who finds a passion for singing and music that connects her to her family in ways she never dreamed. 

This is just a selection. MIFF will be streaming from 5-22 August. Dates and program delivery subject to change, please check the website for the most up-to-date information and a full range of the program at www.miff.com.au