5 films plugging in to the power of music


Tap into music’s power of social conscience from soundtracks that immerse us in carefully-crafted, thought-provoking worlds to full-fledged riff-powered activism.  

For his debut feature Air Conditioner 2020, Angolan director Fradique’s invites singer-composer-producer Aline Frazão to compose the perfect lilting score for the magical-realist wanderings of protagonists Matacedo and Zézhina through the alleys and streets of Luanda.

Last and First Men 2020 finds the late renowned composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s directing and scoring a cautionary future-history of humanity narrated by Tilda Swinton and set against evocative 16mm footage of the former Yugoslavia’s otherworldly spomenik war memorials – all underlayed with Jóhannsson sonorous and resonant ambience.

In Bring Down the Walls 2020, Turner-nominated artist and filmmaker Phil Collins (not that one) taps into the propulsion of house music to challenge the American prison-industrial complex, recording classic house cuts with vocals by former prisons to break down barriers built on the legacy of incarceration.

White Riot, by Rubika Shah, is a collage of punk music, activism and DIY-media that looks at the Rock Against Racism movement’s stand against hardline anti-immigration rhetoric from UK far-right politicians in the 1970s.

And finally, Steven McGregor’s Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky is a compositional odyssey that creates a new songline around Captain Cook’s arrival in Australia, spearheaded by performer Steven Oliver and soundtracked by an all-star musical cast of Kev Carmody, Birdz, Moju and Trials.

Bonus beats: You can also find the busy mayor of Ramallah vamping on keys to let off steam between high-pressure diplomatic engagements as he manages the occupied city in David Osit’s Mayor, and settle in for the night with Max Richter’s Sleep, a documentary about the composer’s ambitious and sublime eight-hour overnight concert.

RELATED: More 5 film suggestions to watch

1. Air Conditioner

Air Conditioner 2020 / Director: Fradique

2. White Riot

White Riot 2020 / Director: Rubika Shah

White Riot 2020 / Director: Rubika Shah / Rights: Icon Films

3. Last and First Men

Last and First Men 2020 / Director: Jóhann Jóhannsson

4. Bring Down The Walls

Bring Down the Walls 2020 / Director: Phil Collins

5. Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky

Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky 2020 / Director: Steven McGregor

Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky 2020 / Director: Steven McGregor / Rights: Roar Film and Tamarind Tree Pictures

More on BIFF 2020 / View the Cinémathèque’s ongoing program / Subscribe to QAGOMA YouTube to go behind-the-scenes

BIFF 2020 screened at QAGOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque, and at valued partner venues Dendy Cinemas Coorparoo, The Elizabeth Picture Theatre, New Farm Six Cinemas, Reading Cinemas Newmarket and the State Library of Queensland — all part of a city-wide celebration of film — with over 70 films from 28 countries from 1 to 11 October 2020.

QAGOMA is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) provides an ongoing program of film and video art that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

BIFF 2020 is supported by the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland and the Australian Federal Government through Screen Australia.

Artistic Director for BIFF 2020 is Amanda Slack-Smith, Curatorial Manager of QAGOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque.

Featured image: Bring Down the Walls 2020 / Director: Phil Collins / Rights: Shady Lane Productions

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