BIFF 2018: Australian Showcase


It’s a bumper year for Australian cinema and the Brisbane International Film Festival 2018 will be the place to see some of the best. Launching the Festival is Ben Hackworth’s Celeste 2018 starring Radha Mitchell. Filmed in and around the crumbling ruins of Paronella Park near Innisfail in Far North Queensland, this sumptuous film transposes the bohemian world of opera to the lush tropical forest in a heady mix of desire and transgression. You can also indulge in some decadence of your own with a dining experience inspired by the film at GOMA’s two-hatted restaurant.


Production still from Celeste 2018 / Director: Ben Hackworth / Image courtesy: Curious Film
Production still from Celeste 2018 / Director: Ben Hackworth / Image courtesy: Curious Film

Acute Misfortune

Another Australian highlight is Thomas M. Wright’s Acute Misfortune 2018. Based on Erik Jensen’s award-winning biography of Adam Cullen, the film dramatises Jensen’s four-year co-habitation with the Archibald-winning artist. By turns caring and violent, this portrayal of the artist and his biographer is an unflinching take on a life cut tragically short.

Ladies in Black

Ladies in Black 2018 is the latest film from BIFF 2018 Patron Bruce Beresford and will screen as part of a selection of films from the director’s celebrated career. Beresford will attend the Festival to discuss Ladies in Black.

Production still from Ladies in Black 2018 / Director: Bruce Beresford / Image courtesy: Sony Pictures Releasing

The Sapphires

A similar feel-good experience, The Sapphires 2012, the story of four young Indigenous Australian women who formed a music group in the 1960s featuring lively performances from Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell will screen, followed by an appearance by Tapsell as she discusses working on the film with producer Rosemary Blight.

Production still from The Sapphires 2012 with Miranda Tapsell (second from right) / Director: Bruce Beresford / Image courtesy: Entertainment One

Under the Cover of Cloud

Under the Cover of Cloud 2018 is a unique and humorous feature from writer-director Ted Wilson as he returns to his Hobart family with a new project in mind: to track down ‘Boonie’, legendary cricketer, David Boon.


Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga 2018 is a more serious search for redemption as a former Australian soldier returns to a war-torn Afghanistan to ask forgiveness from the family of an unarmed man shot down during a raid on a small village.

Production still from Jirga 2018 / Director: Benjamin Gilmour / Image courtesy: Footprint Films


[Censored] 2018 by Sari Braithwaite uses film clips to compose her film. Trawling through censored scenes from foreign films screened in Australia between 1958 and 1971, Braithwaite’s project looks at the issue of censorship and public morality around representations of sex and violence.

Wik vs Queensland

This year’s Festival hosts a compelling selection of local documentaries that focus on the personal as well as stories with a national impact. Dean Gibson’s Wik vs Queensland 2018 takes a look back at the High Court’s landmark 1996 decision to grant native to the Wik people of Far North Queensland. This land rights claim became the centre of a political storm with lasting consequences. Following the screening, journalist Kerry O’Brien will lead a panel discussion on this divisive moment in recent Australian history.

Production still from Wik vs Queensland 2018 / Director: Dean Gibson / Image courtesy: Bacon Factory Films, Bent3land Productions, Freshwater Pictures

Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley

The ongoing tensions between government, industry and traditional owners is also at the centre of Nicholas Wrathall’s Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley 2018 which looks at the important conversations surrounding the expansion of mining within the pristine Kimberley region.

Finke: There and Back

The Australian desert becomes the scene of thrills and adventure in Finke: There and Back 2018, Dylan River’s visually stunning coverage of the annual dirt bike race from Alice Springs to the Finke River and back again.

Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Moving offshore in Island of the Hungry Ghosts 2018, director Gabrielle Brady tells the story of Poh Lin Lee, a trauma therapist in Christmas Island’s detention center. The film weaves three migration stories into a lyrical piece of filmmaking. The island’s red crab migration, along with the influx of Malaysian migrants, creates a contrast to the daily trauma of detainees.


Ghosthunter 2017, from filmmaker Ben Lawrence, investigates a different kind of trauma and haunting.  Western Sydney security guard and professional ‘ghost hunter’ Jason King uncovers some ghosts in his own when his decades-long search for his missing father lands him in the middle of a current police investigation.

The Eulogy

In The Eulogy 2018 by director Janine Hosking, former Prime Minister Paul Keating re-enacts his scathing eulogy delivered at the funeral of Geoffrey Tozer, a virtuoso pianist who died at the age of 54, destitute and neglected. Keating takes vitriolic aim at the Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras for their ill treatment of perhaps the best pianist to come out of Australia.

Dying to Live

Another film with a panel discussion, Dying to Live 2018 by Richard Todd is a personal approach to the worrying statistics of organ and tissue donations in Australia. With some of the lowest rates in the world, this documentary gives attention to those individuals left stranded on waiting lists whose lives depend on the kindness of strangers.

The Picture Show Men

Rounding out the documentary offerings, The Picture Show Men 2018 by John Hosking, looks at the patronage of Queenslander James C. Sourris AM. Emerging from a family steeped in cinema – his grandfather opened Armidale’s Arcadia cinema in in 1921 – Sourris was just 17 when he became an assistant film projectionist before going on to become Chairman of Australian Multiplex Cinemas. His philanthropy helps support both cinema and art across Queensland.

Production still from The Picture Show Men 2018 / Director: John Hosking / Image courtesy: Cahoots

Short Cuts and Shorts Alive

From the emerging crop of new local talent, BIFF 2018 has selected a collection of shorts from Australia and New Zealand. This program contains two stands, Short Cuts and Shorts Alive. ‘Short Cuts’ includes Dots which debuted at Cannes this year along with wry comedies Wibble Wobble and Second Best, Yulubidyi – Until the End, documentary Last Man Standing  and Cloudy With a Chance of Rain, a local film about a young woman’s struggle to regain her life. ‘Shorts Alive’ screens the Palme d’Or–winning All These Creatures, dramas An Act of Love and Undiscovered Country, animations Lost Property Office and Lost and Found, the unsettling Drum Wave and Brisbane film Fitting.

The breadth of Australian content at this year’s BIFF demonstrates the richness and diversity of local filmmaking. Get your tickets now!

Michael Brown, Brisbane International Film Festival, QAGOMA

Explore the Australian Cinémathèque’s ongoing program of film and video / Delve into our current and past programs

Artistic Director for BIFF 2018 is Amanda Slack-Smith, Curatorial Manager of QAGOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque.

The festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland in association with the Australian Federal Government through Screen Australia.

Feature image: Production still from Ladies in Black 2018 / Director: Bruce Beresford / Image courtesy: Sony Pictures Releasing