Fairy Tales: Unmissable films & live music in April


In April, we explore the changing role of women in fairy tale cinema. Girls and women have been central protagonists of fairy tales for millennia, with the earliest recorded ‘Cinderella’ story dated to the year 7 BC. The experiences of women in fairy tales reveal much about the times in which they are told, as the rules, expectations, and possibilities for women’s lives have shifted. Cinema, a relatively new medium for storytelling, has become a site where older stories are reimagined to reflect contemporary gender politics. This month, familiar fairy tale narratives are unpacked and reenvisaged, as women and girls navigate complex social landscapes, discovering new worlds, and resisting injustice.

Screening this week & upcoming

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment’ is presented in conjunction with Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA) blockbuster summer exhibition ‘Fairy Tales’. ‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ which explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition as we introduce you to some of the works while curator Sophie Hopmeier picks her unmissable films each month during the program.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) MA 15+

Guillermo del Toro’s beloved story of enchantment set during the Franco dictatorship in Spain is a ruthless, but mesmerising coming of age fairy tale. Living under the thumb of her sadistic stepfather, Ofelia is led to an underworld realm populated by fairies and fantastic creatures such as a faun, who believe she is destined to be their immortal princess. Asked to complete three tasks, Ofelia’s quest leads her between the world of fantasy (rendered with an exquisite combination of animatronics, make-up and CGI) and the brutal, realistic depiction of a struggle between fascism and the republican resistance.

6.00pm, Friday 12 April 2024
Pan’s Labyrinth will screen from an archival 35mm print.

Production still from Pan’s Labyrinth 2006 / Director: Guillermo Del Toro / Image courtesy: Umbrella Entertainment

Alice (1988) M

When Alice follows the White Rabbit into Wonderland she embarks on uncanny expedition into an astonishing landscape, encountering many dangerous and disconcerting adventures along the way. Jan Švankmajer’s first feature film is a strikingly original interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s nineteenth-century fairy tale, which strongly influenced the development of subsequent Surrealist art and film movements. Švankmajer’s Alice draws on this legacy, blending live-action and stop-motion animation and amplifying the psychoanalytic qualities of Carroll’s story.

1.00pm, Sunday 7 April 2024

Production still from Alice 1988 / Director: Jan Švankmajer / Image courtesy: Park Circus

The Match Factory Girl (1990) Ages 15+

Aki Kaurismäki’s darkly humorous The Match Factory Girl is a ‘Cinderella’ story devoid of enchantment. Iris (Kati Outinen) lives with her mother and stepfather, who expect her to both serve them domestically, and hand over her pay packet from her job on the production line in a match factory. Dreaming of fairy-tale romance, Iris buys a special dress and goes out to a nightclub where she meets Aarne (Vesa Vierikko), who takes her home, thinking she is a prostitute. When Iris realises her prince charming is no such thing, she coolly seeks vengeance on those who have wronged her. Shot with Kaurismäki’s trademark unyielding flat tone and deadpan humour in the face of injustice, the film explores the difficulties of manifesting the ‘happily ever after’ ideal as a working-class woman.

3.15pm, Sunday 14 April 2024

Production still from The Match Factory Girl 1990 / Director: Aki Kaurismäki / Image courtesy: Palace Films

Bluebeard (2009) Ages 18+

In this feminist retelling of Charles Perrault’s classic serial killer fairy tale, Catherine Breillat vividly captures the dynamic of curiosity, vulnerability and vengeance central to the original story, whilst reflecting on the nature of storytelling on screen. Cutting between the parallel worlds of two sisters reading Perrault’s story, and the story itself, the film throws the gendered power which underpins many of the great French literary fairy tales into sharp relief, pointing to the ongoing relevance of these stories in our lives today.

6.00pm, Friday 26 April 2024

Production still from Bluebeard 2009 / Director: Catherine Breillat / Image courtesy: Tigon Film

Petite Maman (2021) G

The transition between girlhood to womanhood is a recurrent theme in fairy tales, and takes centre stage in this profound and luminous film by Céline Sciamma. When eight-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) accompanies her mother to her recently deceased grandmother’s house, she encounters another mysterious young girl (Gabrielle Sanz) in the woods. Capturing a child’s sense of wonder, Sciamma creates the possibility of time collapsing to transcend the inevitable cusp between child and adult.

3.15pm, Sunday 28 April 2024

Production still from Petite Maman 2021 / Director: Céline Sciamma / Image courtesy: Madman Entertainment

#6 Our wild card
Live Music & Film | Ticketed
Häxan (1922) Ages 15+

Benjamin Christensen’s wickedly humorous 1922 docufiction tracing the history of witches from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century is a tour de force of the weird, chilling, and supernatural. Blending an episodic account of the occult with lurid hallucinatory horror, Häxan holds a well-deserved place as one of the preeminent works of silent cinema.

Post classical composer Madeleine Cocolas will provide newly composed live accompaniment to the film.

6.30pm, Friday 5 April 2024
Häxan will screen from an archival 35mm print.
Buy Tickets

Production still from Häxan 1922 / Director: Benjamin Christensen / Image courtesy: Janus Films (SF)

Film props & costumes on display in the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition

From ‘La Belle et la Bête’ (Beauty and the Beast) (1946)

Jean Cocteau (director), France 1889–1963; Marcel Escoffier (designer), Monaco 1910–2001 / ‘Adélaïde’ costume from La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / Silk satin, wool cheesecloth, velvet, chiffon, straw / Collection: La Cinémathèque française, Paris / © Société nouvelle de distribution (SND) / 1996–98 AccuSoft Inc. All Rights Reserved

From ‘Peau d’Âne’ (Donkey Skin) (1970)

Production still from Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin) (1970); 35mm, colour, mono, 91 minutes, France, French (English subtitles); Director/script: Jacques Demy, France 1931–90; Producer: Mag Bodard; Cinematographer: Ghislain Cloquet; Editor: Anne Marie Cotret; Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Jacques Perrin, Delphine Seyrig; Image courtesy: Ciné-Tamaris, Paris / Jacques Demy (director), Agostino Pace (designer), Mine Barral Vergez (reproduction costumier), Paris; From Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin) 1970 2013; Reproductions of the ‘sky’, ‘moon’ and ‘sun’ dresses worn by Catherine Deneuve; ‘Sky dress’ costume: Taffeta, rhinestones, metallic fringe, beads; ‘Moon dress’ costume: Cloqué lamé, coated cloth, tulle, rhinestones, sequins, trimmings, embroidery; ‘Sun dress’ costume: Lamé, velvet, polyester, coated cloth, synthetic horsehair, rhinestone lace, sequins installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane; Collection: La Cinémathèque française, Paris

From ‘Labyrinth’ (1986)

Props and goblin king costume from Labyrinth (1986) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane

From ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (2009)

Spike Jonze (director), United States b.1969; Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (designer), United States est. 1979 / Costumes from Where the Wild Things Are (2009) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane / ‘Douglas’ animatronic costume: Synthetic fur, synthetic hide, synthetic feathers, acrylic, cotton, latex, foam, polystyrene, nylon, fibreglass, lycra, polyvinyl chloride, speakers, animatronic power cables, plugs, fans, gyrostabiliser, cameras, video monitor; 260 x 96.5 x 96.5cm / ‘Max’ costume: Synthetic fur, resin, plastic, metal, wire; 170 x 45.7 x 45.7cm / ‘Carol’ animatronic costume: Synthetic fur, synthetic hide, synthetic feathers, acrylic, cotton, latex, foam, polystyrene, nylon, lycra, polyvinyl chloride, speakers, animatronic power cables, plugs, fans, gyrostabiliser, cameras, video monitor; 267 x 119.5 x 99cm / Collection: Warner Brothers Archives, Los Angeles / © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

From ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (2010)

Tim Burton (Director), United States b.1958 / Colleen Atwood (Designer), United States b.1948 / Costumes from Alice in Wonderland (2010) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / (Left to right) ‘Alice’ costume; Silk, synthetic lace, plastic, metal / ‘Mad Hatter’ costume; Silk, synthetic lace, plastic, wood, metal, synthetic silk, yarn, velcro, synthetic fur, cotton, polyester, leather, synthetic fleece, silicone, glitter, synthetic hair, metallic thread, ostrich feathers, rubber, paint / ‘Red Queen’ costume; Silk, corduroy, synthetic jewels, plastic, polyester, synthetic lace, metal foil / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

From Mirror Mirror (2012)

Tarsem Singh (director), India/United States b.1961 / Eiko Ishioka (designer), Japan 1938–2012 / Costumes from Mirror Mirror (2012) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / Collection: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles

From ‘Cinderella’ (2015)

Kenneth Branagh (director), United Kingdom b.1960 / Sandy Powell (designer), England b.1960 / Glass slipper from Cinderella (2015) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / Swarovski crystal / 20.3 x 19 x 7.6cm / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

View the full film program (2 Dec 2023 – 28 Apr 2024)

Alice 1988
Alice in Wonderland 2010
Barbe bleue 2009
Beauty and the Beast 2017
Blancanieves 2012
Blaze 2022
Border 2018
Careful 1992
Cinderella 2015
Cinderella Moon 2010
Claire 2001 / Live Music & Film
Crumbs 2015
Donkey Skin 1970
Dreams 1990
Häxan 1922 Live Music & Film
Kummatty 1979
La Belle et la Bête 1946
Labyrinth 1986
Mirror Mirror 2012
Night of the Kings 2020
Pan’s Labyrinth 2006
Petite Maman 2021
Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha 1969
The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926 Live Music & Film
The Company of Wolves 1984
The Fall 2006
The Juniper Tree 1990
The Lure 2015
The Match Factory Girl 1990
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Princess Bride 1987
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 2013
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga 2014
The White Reindeer 1952
The Wizard of Oz 1939
Three Thousand Years of Longing 2022
Thrilling Bloody Sword 1981
Walkabout 1971
Wanderers of the Desert 1984
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021
Where the Wild Things Are 2009
Wild at Heart 1990

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication ‘Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video 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 by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Dr Sophie Hopmeier is ‘Fairy Tales’ Assistant Curator and Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA