BIFF 2018 picks for opening weekend


The Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) 2018 opens at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) with the Queensland premiere of Brisbane-born director Ben Hackworth’s new feature film CelesteIt’s exciting to see BIFF find a new home at QAGOMA with a program offering more than 100 Australian and international feature, documentary and short films, as well as special events, panels and workshops.

Highlights of the opening weekend

TEIJI ITO: MUSIC FOR FILM A world premiere live performance of film soundtracks composed by the late Teiji Ito (1935–1982) for legendary experimental filmmakers Maya Deren and Marie Menken, transcribed by musician Michiko Ogawa and performed with screenings of Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon 1943 and The Very Eye of Night 1958, and Menken’s Dwightiana 1959.

Friday 12 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA Cinema A / 6.30pm

Teiji Ito tickets

JIRGA 2018 The story of an Australian soldier haunted by experiences in Afghanistan, screening with a panel discussion between director Benjamin Gilmour, actor Sam Smith and producer John Maynard.

Saturday 13 October The Elizabeth Picture Theatre / 12.30pm
Friday 19 October Reading Cinemas, Newmarket / 5.30pm

Jirga tickets

THE SAPPHIRES 2012 A screening of the feel-good Australian musical comedy with actress Miranda Tapsell and producer Rosemary Blight discussing that film and their latest in-production project, Top End Wedding 2018.

Saturday 13 October Event Cinemas, Brisbane City Myer Centre / 1.00pm

The Sapphires tickets

MAO’S LAST DANCER 2009 Internationally acclaimed dancer and Queensland Ballet Artistic Director Li Cunxin in conversation with BIFF 2018 patron Bruce Beresford about the director’s film adaptation of Li’s autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer. Chaired by Beresford’s fellow BIFF 2018 Patron, Chauvel Award-winning producer Sue Milliken AO.

Saturday 13 October Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre  / 4.00pm

Mao’s Last Dancer tickets

LADIES IN BLACK 2018 A conversation between BIFF 2018 Patrons director Bruce Beresford and producer Sue Milliken AO, discussing their latest collaboration, the just-released Ladies in Black, alongside a screening of the film.

Sunday 14 October Event Cinemas, Brisbane City Myer Centre / 10.45am

Ladies in Black tickets

WIK VS QUEENSLAND 2018 A film about the High Court’s landmark 1996 decision to grant native title to the Wik people of Far North Queensland is accompanied by a panel discussion featuring lawyer and land rights activist Noel Pearson and filmmaker Dean Gibson, chaired by journalist Kerry O’Brien.

Sunday 14 October State Library of Queensland / 10.00am

Wik vs Queensland tickets

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Hidden gems

With many films and productions in the 2018 program enabling audiences to be the first to see cinematic hidden gems, have a memorable experience with a dazzling range of films on offer. Here are three picks for this weekend and a selection you might also be interested to see.

Our House

Making her thesis film and debut feature, Yui Kiyohara’s Our House is a focused an evocative exploration of sisterhood, parallel universes and the mysteries of the everyday. Set in a non-descript Japanese sea-side town, Kiyohara’s enigmatic story bears resemblance to the works of David Lynch, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and Michael Haneke. An incredibly impressive debut, Our House lays out an unfinished puzzle and invites us to decipher its mysteries.

Saturday 13 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA Cinema B / 6:45pm
Sunday 14 October The Elizabeth Picture Theatre / 12:45pm

Our House tickets

Director: Yui Kiyohara 2017 / 80 Minutes / Ages 15+

Acute Misfortune

A compelling and vividly shot biopic of the late contemporary artist Adam Cullen, Acute Misfortune is the remarkably assured directorial debut by director Thomas M Wright. Featuring two powerful performances by Daniel Henshall and Toby Wallace, amplified by the tightly composed cinematography of Germain McMicking and Stefan Duscio, the near-avant-garde editing by Luca Cappelli, and the evocative and lyrical score by composer Evelyn Ida Morris,  Acute Misfortune represents modern Australian cinema at its best.

Saturday 13 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA Cinema A / 8:30pm
Tuesday 16 October New Farm Six Cinemas / 7:00pm

Acute Misfortune tickets

Director: Thomas M Wright 2018 / 91 Minutes / Ages 18+

A Skin So Soft

Filmmaker Denis Côté’s bewitching A Skin So Soft lays out, seamlessly and thoughtfully, the extreme and solitary lives of six Canadian strongmen, each with the shared desire for physical perfection. Carrying itself with a real originality, this eloquent and captivating essay analyses the fragility of hulking men and the mundane aspects of their lives, presenting a body-builder documentary like no other.

Sunday 14 October New Farm Six Cinemas / 5:00pm
Saturday 20 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA Cinema B / 6:30pm

a Skin So Soft tickets

Director: Denis Côté 2017 / 93 Minutes / Ages 15+

Film Chooser


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Casanova Gene

Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2018, Luise Donschen’s Casanova Gene is a striking debut that has screened in a number of highly-respected international film festivals throughout the year including Visions du Réel, FIDMarseille, and New Directors/New Films.

A seductively visual film and deeply thematic, Casanova Gene allows for ambiguity. It is neither a fiction film, nor a documentary, but rather something in-between. Curiously there are a number of films included in this year’s program that resemble this in-between form. Denis Cote’s A Skin So Soft and Adina Pintilie’s Berlin winning Touch Me Not both interweave fact with fiction.

In addition, Casanova Gene showcases an exciting collaboration between Donschen, and filmmaker & cinematographer Helena Wittman. Wittman, released her debut last year titled Drift. Both Drift and Casanova Gene, have a very poetic essence. Two German filmmakers, both 36 years old, thrive off the lasting and exciting potentials of poetic cinema.

Be among the first Australian audience to see this film.

Saturday 13 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA A / 4:45pm
Friday 19 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA A / 6:30pm

Casanova Gene tickets

Director: Luise Donschen 2018 / 67 Minutes / Ages 18+

The Wild Boys

More or less a rebellious coming-of-age story, Bertrand Mandico’s The Wild Boys is an erotically-charged feature debut by Mandico. It is a sea-adventure defiantly queer, gleefully transgressive, extremely experimental, and dramatically savage. It is also a fascinating film because it crosses over so many different literary and cinematic genres. It draws influences as widespread as the fantasy adventure novelist Jules Verne to the more contemporary post-modernist writings of the great American writer William S Burroughs. Cinematically it draws comparison with the mise-en-scene of the silent movie era, to the erotic visual flair of Fassbinder’s Querelle and the hyper-crafted contemporary works of Guy Maddin.

Saturday 13 October The Elizabeth Picture Theatre / 6:30pm
Sunday 21 October New Farm Six Cinemas / 1:15pm

the Wild Boys tickets

Director: Bertrand Mandico 2017 / 110 Minutes / Ages 18+


We are incredibly proud and honoured to present the Australian Premiere of the recent UCLA Film and Television Archive restoration of Barbara Loden’s Wanda. The film’s restoration and recent critical resurgence is thanks in part to Nathalie Leger’s 2017 book, Suite for Barbara Loden. The book mixes intermittently personal essays with detailed descriptions of the film which it views it as a semi-autobiographical work. Loden certainly advanced this idea in interviews at the time of the film’s release. In a profile on Loden in the New York Times in March of 1971, she says “I came for a rural region where people have a hard time. They don’t have time for whittling observing the things around them. They’re not stupid, they’re ignorant. Everything is ugly around, the architecture, the town, the clothing they wear, everything they see is ugly.”

Shot on a hand-held 16mm camera in Srancton, Pennyslvania, Wanda is not a pretty film. But its muddled colours, grainy imagery remind us that we are watching something unsparingly honest. It presents a pioneer female filmmaker who had a very firm idea of what she wanted to do as an artist, challenging the industry stereotypes and its assumptions.

Loden’s debut and only directed film is now considered a classic.

Sunday 14 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA A / 10:30pm

Wanda tickets

Director: Barbara Loden 1970 / 103 Minutes / Ages 18+

Cold Water

First commissioned as a television episode, Olivier Assayas’ fifth feature, was part of a monumental and sadly semi-forgotten French TV series called Tous les garcons et les filles de leur age. Involving filmmakers Chantal Akerman and Claire Denis, nine artists were tasked to create one-hour long stories about adolescence. Following a dogme like set of rules, each episode had to contain a party scene, use popular music from the era and be shot on 16mm film within an 18 to 24 day time span.

Reluctant to cut down to the one hour limit, Assayas’ responded with a daring and deeply personal 92-minute film, semi-experimental in form. Now considered to be one of his finest releases, Cold Water was an early career triumph, featuring an intelligent and authentic script, evocative cinematography, a darkly-seductive colour palette and two powerful lead performances, buoyed by a definitive 1970s rock soundtrack. Music is essential to understanding the cinema of Assayas and the rock and roll texture in Cold Water features some of his best work, involving one of the most remarkable party sequences ever committed to screen. Featuring music by Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, the soundtrack was the most expensive part of the film. Though Cold Water played in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival to general acclaim it has long been difficult to see. It never opened theatrically outside of France.

24 years after its release, BIFF is incredibly excited to present the Australian Premiere of this restoration. Assayas has long considered Cold Water – dubbed his ‘unseen masterpiece’ –  the turning point in his career, a ‘second first film’. A re-telling of his own teenage years it captures vividly the energy of the early 1970s as well as the ecstatic, and agonising experiences of adolescence.

Wednesday 17 October Australian Cinémathèque GOMA A / 8:20pm

Cold Water tickets

Director: Olivier Assayas 1994 / 92 Minutes / Ages 18+

A taste of BIFF 2018

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

Alexander Back, Brisbane International Film Festival, QAGOMA

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 Casanova Gene 2018 / Director: Luise Donschen / Image courtesy: Luise Donschen