From outer space to our own back yard, 5 of the best films from BIFF 2020


Whenever I declare a top 5 list, I immediately miss all the fabulous films I’ve left out. But there you have it; I’ll leave those gems for you to discover in BIFF 2020 yourselves. Like many, this year has put me in a reflective mood, drawing me to films which interweave stories of personal challenges, questions of who and what we are, and the power of the past.

In Jóhann Jóhannsson’s stunning adaptation of Olaf Stapledon’s 1930 science-fiction novel Last and First Men Tilda Swinton’s narration gives voice to our future selves pleading with us not to recreate their mistakes, the deeply resonant High Ground tells a powerful story of crime, cover-up and reckoning in outback Australia in the 1930’s, the highly unusual feature The Science of Fictions depicts a man forever changed by witnessing the filming of a fake moon landing in rural Indonesia in 1962, while the mesmerising Valley of Souls sees a father undertake a dangerous journey to find his sons amidst the civil conflicts which ravaged Columbia in the early 2000s, and lastly the uplifting and personal documentary Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra which reflects on the last 30 years of this internationally renowned dance company.

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

RELATED: More 5 film suggestions to watch

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BIFF returns to cinemas from 1 to 11 October with multi-award-winning Australian actor Jack Thompson AM and Academy Award-nominated film editor Jill Bilcock AC as the Festival’s 2020 Patrons. Presented by the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) through its Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA, and in partnership with venues across Brisbane, BIFF 2020 will screen new release features and documentaries, special events, a short film competition and much more.

With over 70 films from 28 countries, we can’t wait to welcome audiences back for BIFF 2020 — 11 exhilarating days of unmissable cinema! 

Visit Tickets now on sale

1. Last and First Men

Last and First Men 2020 / Directors: Jóhann Jóhannsson

2. High Ground

Production still from High Ground 2020 / Director: Stephen Maxwell Johnson / Image courtesy: Madman Entertainment

3. The Science of Fictions

The Science of Fictions 2019 / Directors: Yosep Anggi Noen

4. Valley of Souls

Valley of Souls 2019 / Director: Nicólas Rincón Gille

5. Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra

Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra 2020 / Directors: Wayne Blair, Nel Minchin

Watch and Read about BIFF 2019 / More on BIFF 2020 / View the Cinémathèque’s ongoing program / Subscribe to QAGOMA YouTube to go behind-the-scenes

Returning to Cinemas
BIFF 2020 is one of the first major film festivals in Australia to welcome audiences back to cinemas, and we’ll be taking extra steps to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff. In addition, when booking, individuals/groups will be distanced in accordance with Queensland Health guidelines.

BIFF 2020 will screen 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.

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: Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra 2020 / Directors: Wayne Blair, Nel Minchin / Image courtesy: Daniel Boud, from Sydney Coliseum Theatre

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