Brisbane International Film Festival 2019
With more than 110 films over 11 days, including a Japanese gangster flick, the Queer Palm winner and an eye-opening doco about Scientology.
Fresh from announcing its first titles and revealing its high-profile patrons for the year, the Brisbane International Film Festival has unveiled its complete 2019 program. Thanks to a lineup of fresh international favourites, new local gems and everything in-between, the city's cinephiles will be spending plenty of time in a cinema between Thursday, October 3 and Sunday, October 13 — and plenty of time watching more than 110 features, documentaries and shorts.
On the big-name front, BIFF's highlights span sumptuous Queer Palme winner The Portrait of a Lady on Fire from acclaimed French filmmaker Céline Sciamma; Xavier Dolan's emotive exploration of love and friendship in Matthias and Maxime, which he both stars in and directs; The Day Shall Come, Chris Morris' long-awaited sophomore film after Four Lions; and Takashi Miike's latest gangster flick First Love. Then there's Sundance hit Monos, Chinese underworld thriller The Wild Goose Lake, László Nemes' historical drama Sunset, Agnes Varda's joyous Varda by Agnes, and the Dardenne brothers' Cannes best director winner Young Ahmed.
The standouts keep coming, including the world premiere of a new documentary about Ben Quilty, coinciding with GOMA's current exhibition of his work. And, BIFF will also play host to the Aussie premieres of the luminous, Berlin-set O Beautiful Night, artificial intelligence doco HI, A.I., feline-friendly documentary The Cat Rescuers, and the Peter Sarsgaard and Rashida Jones-starring The Sound of Silence, about a man who finds harmony in the noise of everyday life.
Among the fest's local contingent, audiences can look forward to Lupita Nyong'o fighting zombies in Australian comedy Little Monsters, Indigenous horror anthology Dark Place, Aussie queer drama Sequin in a Blue Room, and a Hugo Weaving double thanks to Hearts and Bones (from Ghosthunter director Ben Lawrence) and Measure for Measure (which transports Shakespeare's play of the same name to a Melbourne block of housing commission units). Meanwhile, fact fans can settle in for eye-opening Scientology chronicle Over the Rainbow, Danish true-crime caper Cold Case Hammarskjöld, and the bee-focused Honeyland — plus two informative and engaging docos about cinema: Memory: The Origins of Alien, about Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic, and Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, about the medium's first female filmmaking pioneer.
BIFF is also going big with its special events slate, as headlined by three world premiere performances — all pairing films with live scores. The aforementioned Over the Rainbow will screen with its original soundtrack performed live by Australian band HTRK, who composed it in the first place, while 1924 Russian science fiction classic Aelita: Queen of Mars will be accompanied by beatboxing from Tom Thumb. Plus, Harry Houdini will work his magic on the big screen at the 100th anniversary session of The Grim Game, with David Bailey playing the wurlitzer organ.
With small strands also dedicated to flicks about the undead, new filmmaking directions, the use of sound, the creative process and life on the urban fringes, the lineup just keeps going.
All of the above join the previously announced opening night pic Judy & Punch, starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman; Pedro Almodovar's Cannes Best Actor-winning Pain and Glory, featuring a sublime performance by Antonio Banderas; Jim Jarmusch's zombie comedy The Dead Don't Die, which boasts everyone from Bill Murray to Adam Driver to Iggy Pop among its cast; and seeing Tilda Swinton act opposite her talented daughter Honor Swinton Byrne in The Souvenir — and a retrospective of BIFF 2019 patron Baz Luhrmann's work, as well as a selection of his favourite films.