The Brisbane International Film Festival returns this month with a stacked program featuring a bunch of Australian films.
From award-winners to festival favourites, classic cinema, entertaining dramas, compelling documentaries and dark comedies, we’ve put together a handy guide of every Australian movie screening during the festival which runs from October 21 – 31.
You find find out more about the Brisbane International Film Festival here.
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Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow
Written and Directed by Philippa Bateman
In 2004, Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach collaborated with the Australian Art Orchestra to create Kura Tungar – Songs from the River: A musical journey through love and country.
Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow is, in part, a concert film of Hunter and Roach’s performance of the above show. It’s also a document of that concert’s creation and its import to Australia, interspersed with personal reflections and interviews that contextualise the beautiful music.
But this is also a meditative expression of the music’s meaning, with performances playing over transfixing footage of light playing over water, of ashen trees densely knotted, of the sun’s slow descent towards the horizon. Director and producer Philippa Bateman (Jindabyne) allows her camera to drift through country like a river itself, capably capturing the significance of this concert to our land.
Written and Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner
Starring Luke McKenzie, Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Jake Ryan, Tasia Zalar and Shantae Barnes Cowan
Direct from premiering at the prestigious Sitges Film Festival, the Roache-Turner brothers’ Wyrmwood: Apocalypse roars into Brisbane for an Australian premiere screening.
A sequel to the 2015 cult hit Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is post- apocalyptic zombie film that follows soldier Rhys on an arc of redemption as he turns against his evil bosses and joins forces with a group of rebel survivors to help rescue a girl who might hold the cure to the virus. A sci-fi, action, horror film packed with zombies.
Directed by Jennifer Peedom
Written by Jennifer Peedom and Joseph Nizeti
Director Jennifer Peedom’s follows her record-breaking documentary Mountain with River, in collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and narrated by Willem Dafoe.
Throughout history, rivers have shaped our landscapes and our journeys; flowed through our cultures and dreams. Rivertakes its audience on a journey through space and time; spanning six continents, and drawing on extraordinary contemporary cinematography, including satellite filming, the film shows rivers on scales and from perspectives never seen before. Its union of image, music and sparse, poetic script create a film that is both dream-like and powerful, honouring the wildness of rivers but also recognising their vulnerability. River is a spectacular cinema experience.
Directed by Rachel Perkins
Written by Louis Nowra
Starring Deborah Mailman, Rachel Maza and Trisha Morton-Thomas
More than two decades after its premiere in 1998, Radiance remains a compelling drama. Launching the cinematic careers of director Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Day), Deborah Mailman (The Sapphires) and director of photography Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah), the film is a landmark in Australian cinema, recognised by a sumptuous restoration by NFSA.
An adaptation of a Louis Nowra play, the story centres on three sisters. They return to their childhood home after their mother’s death only to discover the volcanic secrets bubbling away under the surface of their fragile family. By the end of the day, fault lines open and those secrets erupt into a painful and cathartic reckoning.
Paris Funeral, 1972
Directed by Adam Briggs
Written by Adam Briggs and Rosario Zocco
Starring Gabriella Cohen, Kate Dillon and Rosario Zocco
For the world premiere of Paris Funeral, 1972 BIFF is excited to present a gala screening complete with a drinks reception at the conclusion of the film. Tickets for this event include popcorn, gala screening and an alcoholic beverage at the post screening reception.
This striking feature debut from Brisbane filmmaker Adam Briggs follows the passage of Rosario, an itinerant and highly charismatic Italian in his 60s as he drifts through Australia before he returns to France and Italy, in the company of musicians Kate and Ella.
Attentively shot on 16mm, the film’s cast is composed of non-actors playing versions of themselves as they reinterpret and fictionalise their own lives. From the film’s opening amidst the homeless and displaced communities of Brisbane and Melbourne to the fields of Europe, Paris Funeral, 1972 is defined by a desire to do justice to people’s need for contact and communication, exploring how each individual need interplays with society.
Written and Directed by Neil McGregor
Featuring Tim Boyle, Neil McGregor and Lynda Boyle
Ramblin’ Racer follows Tim Boyle, a construction manager, and his best mate Phil Robinson, an accountant. Together they form an unlikely duo who make their racing dreams a reality. Starting from scratch in a suburban Brisbane garage, they transform car shells into high octane racing machines to compete in one of Australia’s most difficult street race circuits on the Gold Coast.
Overcoming crashes and setbacks along the way, the two car enthusiasts test their friendship and transform themselves into serious contenders in the fast lane.
Faced-paced documentary, Ramblin’ Racer is an inspiring and unexpected journey about two everyday Australians living out their childhood dreams.
The Boys Who Said No!
Directed by Judith Ehrlich
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Judith Ehrlich tells the story of a mass movement of draft resisters who choose conscience over killing in the Vietnam War. Through dynamic archival footage and compelling interviews with the protagonists, the film chronicles a youth-led movement of nonviolent civil disobedience that ended the draft and helped end the brutal war.
The Boys Who Said NO! captures for the first time the passion, fear, and hope of a generation of nonviolent warriors who broke the law to stand for peace.
Strong Female Lead
Directed by Tosca Looby
One in three Australian women experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Australia’s first and only female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was one of them.
Strong Female Lead is a film about Australia’s struggle with the notion of women in power. Using only archival footage from Julia Gillard’s three-year term in office, this film is an honest portrait of the nation’s response when a woman took the top job.
People celebrated the long-awaited election of a female prime minister, but Gillard’s honeymoon period was particularly short lived. Gender based attacks from the media, parliamentary colleagues and the public were shocking in their violence and veracity.
Strong Female Lead leaves us with no doubt that Australia’s parliament is a boy’s club and if women are ever to lead on equal footing with men, it’s time for refurbishment.
Directed by Bentley Dean
Kerby Brown made headlines in 2008 when he surfed a 40-foot wave: The ride of a lifetime. He’s been chasing that thrill ever since.
Facing Monsters follows Kerby and his brother Cortney into the furious power of the ocean. The monsters Kerby faces aren’t mammoth waves; he’s buffeted by his own self-destructive tendencies and an unerring riptide dragging him from his young family.
Directed by Bentley Dean – of Tanna, the first Australian film nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards – this is a film enraptured by the elemental power of nature. Jaw-dropping footage of these towering waves helps convey why someone like Kerby keeps paddling out from shore, in search of another ride of a lifetime.
Directed by Aaron Wilson
Written by Christos Tsiolkas and Aaron Wilson
Starring Mark Leonard Winter, Silvia Colloca and Robert Menzies
Little Tornadoes is the second instalment in a loose triptych of films about the after-effects of war from director Aaron Wilson. Following the filmmaker’s Canopy – a well-received arthouse war drama set in World War II – this film shifts its focus to three decades later, finding the wreckage of wartime in a 1970s Australian town.
Co-written by Christos Tsiolkas (The Slap, Barracuda), this drama explores the cultural change of the ‘70s – immigration, protests and urbanisation – from the perspective of its damaged protagonist, Leo (Mark Leonard Winter). Leo’s attempts to adapt to a new world in the shadow of his own traumatic past encapsulates the challenges of a country coming to terms with its own identity after the Vietnam War.
Directed by Clara Law
Written by Clara Law, Eddie Ling-Ching Fong
Starring Annie Yip, Anthony Wong, Edwin Pang, Annette Shun Wah and Cecilia Lee
A quarter of a century ago, Hong Kong faced the transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China. At the same time, Clara Law released Floating Life – the first Australian film to tackle the Asian migrant experience.
In its new NFSA restoration, the conflicts at the heart of the film between cultures, country and family remain as relevant as ever. The story centres on the Chan family, who find themselves riven between the disparate desires of their children and the cultural challenges of adapting to Australian life.
Earning nominations for both Law and her co-screenwriter (and husband) Eddie Fong at the 1996 Australian Film Institute Awards (now AACTA), Floating Life also features the talents of cinematographer Dion Beebe. Beebe went on to win an Academy Award for Memoirs of a Geisha.
Friends and Strangers
Written and Directed by James Vaughan
Starring Fergus Wilson, Emma Diaz
BIFF is excited to present Friends and Strangers, an Australian Premiere. Tickets include pre-show reception, drink on arrival and gala screening.
Friends and Strangers explores displacement and disconnection in contemporary Australia. Part absurdist comedy, part satire of colonial accidie, the film follows directionless twenty-somethings Ray and Alice as they navigate a series of prosaic but increasingly agonising situations.
The debut feature of James Vaughan, Friends and Strangers shows the conversational influence of Eric Rohmer, Whit Stillman and Hong Sang Soo, reframed to explore—with a light but clear-eyed touch— a culture afraid to think deeply about the past and unable to look forward with confidence and ultimately snared by its own affluence and moral cowardice in a meaningless and interminable present.
Written and Directed by Jonathan Ogilvie
Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Josh McConville, Chris Bunton, Diana Glenn, Marlon Williamsn, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Curry, Lawrence Mooney
Lone Wolf premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2020. Thought- provoking and visually adventurous, this modern- day thriller is inspired by Joseph Conrad’s famed turn of the century spy novel A Secret Agent.
Contemporary Melbourne. Through various modes of surveillance, we observe an overprotective young woman, Winnie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey, I Am Woman), and her younger brother Stevie (Chris Bunton, Doctor, Doctor) caught in a web of intrigue involving a bomb plot, inept anarchists, ambitious police and a corrupt politician. The duplicity of Winnie’s boyfriend, Conrad Verloc (Josh McConville, 1%) – political activist and police informant – propels Winnie down a deadly path.
Meet the Wallers
Directed by Jim Stevens
A unique documentary that follows artist Mark Waller and his family over twenty years. Brisbane based director Jim Stevens captures a very real and uncontrived view of an artist in this heart- warming documentary.
Mark Waller loves to paint the seascapes around beautiful Lennox Head. He is a dreamer who sees angels in the street. His obsessive belief that charity begins at home doesn’t jibe with his vivacious wife Nicola who wishes she were the charity. But Mark, the painter often can’t see what’s in front of him.
Nicola suffers depression. Their daughters, Jasmine and Emily – babies at the outset and graduates by the end of our story – negotiate their parents’ issues while juggling their own sibling rivalries. When Mark is diagnosed with a deadly Melanoma the fault lines in the Waller family erupt with surprising results.
Filmed over 20 years, Meet the Wallers is a remarkable keyhole into family life, a meditation on art, mortality, philanthropy and happiness.
Love in Bloom
Directed by Rogue Rubin
Written by Samantha Benjamin
Starring Susie Abromeit, Melina Vidler, Julian Haig, Monette Lee, Steven Tandy, Joey Vieira and Jason Wilder
A charming romantic comedy filmed in Brisbane and making its world premiere at BIFF 2021, Love In Bloom stars Susie Abromeit (Jessica Jones) and Julian Haig (Riverdale, Five Bedrooms) and an all- star local cast.
Amelia (Abromeit) has the perfect life; a successful floristry in Chicago and a boyfriend who is about to propose. When her soon-to-be-married little sister and fiancé become marooned at a mountain retreat days before their wedding in Primrose River Australia, Amelia and the Best Man, Grayson Tanner (Haig), are tasked with stepping in to save the wedding. Amelia finds new meaning in the town’s beautiful gardens, and love where she least expected.
Love in Bright Landscapes
Written and Directed by Jonathan Alley
The inspiring, tragic, and intimate life story of David McComb: cult Australian singer/songwriter and driving force behind one of the greatest Australian bands, The Triffids.
Loved by critics and adored by a strong fan base, The Triffids spent the ‘80s living between London, Perth and Sydney. Love in Bright Landscapes reveals the man behind the music; and McComb’s status as a quintessentially Australian artist.
The tragedy and triumph of McComb’s short, driven, passionate life is brought to the screen via music, poetry, letters, and unseen family archives.
Directed by Robert Coe and Warwick Ross
Written by Robert Coe, Warwick Ross, Madeleine Ross
A decade ago, Joseph, Marlvin, Pardon and Tinashe escaped Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe for the comparative safety of South Africa. There they found solace in a bottle of wine … in a good way.
A quartet of Pentecostal Christians who’d sworn off alcohol might seem like an unlikely bunch to become Africa’s most-celebrated sommeliers. But that’s the story at the heart of Blind Ambition, an enthralling tale that follows the refugees’ journey through a chaos of Johannesburg to the ‘Olympics of wine tasting’ – the World Wine Blind Testing in Burgundy, France.
Uncork a robust red and settle in for an inspirational true story, the recipient of the Tribeca Festival’s audience award for best documentary.
Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution
Written and Directed by Trevor Graham
Follow Chef Antonio and his restaurant, in this heart-warming and charming documentary, on a mission to transform the lives of young people living with Down syndrome.
A beautifully composed slice of life documentary featuring culinary delights, glorious scenery, and genuine experiences of everyday life. Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution follows Antonio and protégés Mirko Piras, Jessica Berta and others as they share in laughter and love, drama and dreams, and the toil of top-notch customer service.
Directed by Alec Morgan, Tiriki Onus
Ablaze begins with a pair of discoveries. As Tiriki Onus stumbles across aged photographs of his grandfather, activist and entrepreneur William Bill Onus, Alec Morgan learns of a film that may have been directed by the same man. The two unite to try to answer an intriguing question: was ‘Bill’ the first Aboriginal film director?
The documentary that results, co-directed by Morgan and Onus, is a powerful portrayal of Australia’s history of First Nations activism and art alike. Ablaze effectively uses archival footage – and animation in its absence – to shed light on our nation’s history and one great man in particular.
Written and Directed by Danny Cohen
The release of Courtney Barnett’s debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, rocketed the musician to stardom: late night show performances, sold-out tours, and a slew of award nominations.
Anonymous Club, an honest portrait of Barnett following her subsequent album release, isn’t really about stardom. Frequently driven by Barnett’s reflective voiceover, the film recalls the confessional, personal tone of her records. Her mental health is at the forefront; she finds herself crying on stage and stumbling through promotional interviews.
This isn’t a lament. The documentary, directed by Barnett’s frequent collaborator Danny Cohen, adopts its subject’s easy-going, Sunday morning energy. Anonymous Club is an inviting and intimate insight into the challenges of being a rock star, but it also reminds its audience just why Barnett is a star in the first place.
Araakita: Rise Up!
Written and Directed by Larissa Behrendt
“We’re the biggest of the Pacific nations, we’ve got the oldest culture out of all those Pacific nations – we should be the main ones doing something to show respect to our traditional people.”
That’s the pursuit driving Dean Widders in Araatika: Rise Up! A First Nations Australian and prominent NRL player, Dean strives for an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander equivalent of the haka, collaborating with fellow Indigenous players and the Bangarra Dance Theatre crew to create a formidable and memorable routine.
Featuring prominent rugby league players (male and female) alongside the likes of Adam Goodes and Stan Grant, Araatika examines the uneasy tension between the racist bedrock of white Australian culture and our enduring obsession with sport.
Alick and Albert
Directed by Douglas Watkin
Written by Alick Tipoti, Trish Lake and Douglas Watkin
Even though they live worlds apart, Torres Strait Indigenous artist and activist Alick Tipoti and His Serene Highness (H.S.H.) Prince Albert II of Monaco have united to help protect the world’s oceans.
This is a film about two communities on opposite sides of the planet, Monaco and Badu Island, which are concerned by climate change and the many threats to the future of the oceans.
A unique and captivating documentary following the friendship of acclaimed artist Alick Tipoti and (H.S.H) Prince Albert II of Monaco, Alick and Albert offers a profound look at the power of art to connect individuals, forge friendships and initiate change.
The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson
Written and Directed by Leah Purcell
Starring Leah Purcell, Rob Collins, Sam Reid and Jessica de Gouw
Featuring superb performances, an evocative setting, and unforgettable characters; The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson is the debut feature from Leah Purcell and influenced by the iconic story by Henry Lawson. Leah Purcell shines in the lead role and title character: Molly Johnson.
In a remote Snowy Mountains homestead, Molly cares for her four children while her husband is away droving cattle. Despite being heavily pregnant, Molly keeps various threats, from nature and other people, at bay. But when Yadaka (Rob Collins), an Aboriginal man on the run from white law enforcement, intrudes on the sanctuary she has carved out, the brutal hardships and secrets that have followed them both throughout their lives must be confronted.
Filmed in late 2019, The Drover’s Wife the Legend of Molly Johnsonis produced by Oombarra Productions’ Bain Stewart and Bunya Productions’ David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin (Sweet Country, Goldstone, Mystery Road). Rob Collins, Sam Reid and Jessica de Gouw star alongside writer/director Leah Purcell.