ShowBusinessMan + Tommy Wirkola

Bringing the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF)

500 Days of Summer

Everyone loves a good biff, especially when it has absolutely nothing to do with The Footy Show. Here, I’m speaking about the one and only Brisbane International Film Festival also known as BIFF. The Gold Coast, being the cultural vacuum that it is, us film geeks eagerly await the annual BIFF where a selection of films from around the world are screened over the course of one and a bit weeks. This year I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the BIFF crew by putting together articles on various films for the website and daily newsletter. With dozens of movies crammed into the 11-day event it would be easy to miss some of the real gems. The good news is I’ve taken a look at the complete line-up of films screening at this year's festival and even watched some of them early. So, the following is my list of the films you MUST SEE or die at this year's BIFF.

For you international readers this can be a handy guide of limited release films you should keep an eye out for in the coming weeks/months.

  • An Education — the opening night film starring Peter Sarsgaard and set in the 60s. The Sars-man in a film with romance, drama and intrigue sounds like too rare an opportunity to miss.
  • BALIBO — the notorious tale of five young, Australian journalists who were executed while reporting on Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 75. An impressive Aussie cast including Gyton Grantley, Nathan Phillips and Anthony LaPaglia expose the Australian and Indonesian governments shameless efforts to cover-up this important story.
  • Coraline — has been covered extensively on this blog given its beautiful visuals and dark storyline. Directed by Henry Selick, director of the classic Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline follows the adventures of a young girl who discovers a secret door leading to an alternative reality.
  • 500 Days of Summer — a last minute addition to the festival line-up, this quirky, nontraditional love story deserves to be seen purely because it features the talents of my favourite Joseph Gordon Levitt. It also stars everyone’s favourite indie film star Zoey Deschanel.
  • CHE: Parts One & Two — director Steven Soderbergh’s stunning two-part opus based on the life Che Guevara and starring Benicio Del Toro in the title role. You’ll be hard pressed to catch this screened back to back anywhere else in Queensland.
  • Away We Go — highly peculiar, yet, interesting film which looks at the journey of two thirtsomethings who discover they’re going to have a baby. Instead of settling down and preparing, the couple take to the road to visit old friends. This is the latest thing from the amicable Sam Mendes and marks a return to his off-beat indie roots.
  • The September Issue — one of the most anticipated documentaries of the year, this film delves into the life of legendary Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in the lead-up to the massive September issue.
  • Jules And Jim — this French film from the 60s is a classic love-triangle with arguably the most recognisable face in French cinema — Jeanne Moreau.
  • Moon — one of the films I’m most looking forward to, this sci-fi thriller i s the debut feature from David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones and stars Sam Rockwell in what is said to be the performance of his career.
  • The Missing Person — a private detective is hired to follow a missing person but what started as a simple job rapidly develops into a complex mystery. Full of double-crosses and classic noir moments, this is a film not to be missed by lovers of all things noir.
  • The Strength of Water (below) — having Maori parentage, I like to pay special attention to films from indigenous New Zealand filmmakers. The Strength of Water is definitely worth the gaze. A unique look at the complexity of grief through the eyes of a 10-year-old living in an isolated Maori community. Beautiful, naturalistic, creative and moving. A must-see.
  • Van Dieman’s Land — the infamous tale of Australia’s very own Hannibal Lecter gets the big screen treatment from a filmmaker heading for the stratosphere.Subdivison — Brisbanite Ash Bradman (from Nova radio fame) wrote and stars in this appealing comedy set in semirural Hervey Bay. Fans of Aussie films like Crackerjack, The Castle and Kenny are likely to enjoy this.
  • The Cove — along with Cathy Henkel’s The Burning Season, this has to be one of the most important documentaries of the year and looks at the culling of dolphins in the picturesque town of Tokyo, Japan. Part horror film, part espionage thriller and part environmental documentary, The Cove is all part's essential viewing. It Might Get Loud — there’s no time for air guitar in this documentary which takes the audience on a candid trip into the world of three of rock’s most iconic electric guitarists; Jimmy Page (Led Zepplin), the Edge (U2), and Jack White (The White Stripes).
  • Black Dynamite — if I even have to explain to you the plot of this film, given the sheer volume of posts about it on this blog, then you deserve to be pimp-slapped into a China cabinet. Here’s your chance to see what all the fuss is about.
  • Dead Snow — Tarantino and Rodriguez fans, like myself, are likely to adore the work of the Norwegian lads behind this low-budget, horror slapstick about Nazi zombies. Writer/director Tommy Wirkola and writer/star Stig Frode Henriksen have been pipped for big things since their debut short Kill Buljo and their first feature doesn’t disappoint. Catch their work before it explodes as their next film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters has been picked up by The Weinstein Company (bada-boom).
  • Storage — a tense, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from Brisbane filmmaker Michael Craft and starring Gold Coast actor Matt Scully in the lead role. An impressively clever debut from Craft who shot the film in storage facilities in and around Brisvegas. Creepy.
  • The Horsemen — containing what is said to be one of the `most amazing fight scenes captured’ is there really any other reason to see this?

Ticket prices are cheap as chips compared to a normal outing at the movies and BIFF is running a series of workshops where you can meet the director, producer, writer and/or stars of some of the films.

500 Days of Summer, BIFF, Black Dynamite, Brisbane International Film Festival, Dead Snow, and more:

Bringing the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) + Tommy Wirkola