Must-See Films at the Brisbane International Film Festival

Brisbane! If you’re craving a hit of culture, catharsis and captivation, the program for the 2021 Brisbane International Film Festival has got you covered. Launched today, the full BIFF program includes exactly the quality array of superb international cinema that we’ve come to expect from Queensland’s finest film festival.

Here are our program favourites…


Mary Hussain converted to Islam when she married Ahmed, and is now in her early 60s. Following his unexpected death, she discovers that he had a secret life just twenty-one miles away from their Dover home, across the Channel in Calais. The shocking discovery compels her to go there to find out more.

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Former NRL star, Dean Widders, is a man on a mission to bring an Indigenous Australian pre-game ‘unity dance’ to the game, matching the haka of their Maori counterparts, and enhancing First Nations pride more broadly.

Featuring several NRL greats, prominent First Nations figures like Stan Grant and Adam Goodes, and the Bangarra Dance Theatre, ARAATIKA: RISE UP! is the story of one man’s determination and a spirited call-to-arms to stand behind Indigenous Australia.

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An unlikely team of Zimbabwean refugees turned sommeliers shake up the international wine establishment when they compete in the World Wine Tasting Championships. BLIND AMBITION is an inspiring underdog story for the ages.

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This film is an endeavour to consider cows. To move us closer to them. To see both their beauty and the challenge of their lives. Not in a romantic way but in a real way. It’s a film about one dairy cow’s reality and acknowledging her great service to us.

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Described as a cross between ancient mythology and a spacey acid trip, following its win of the NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance. As cryptozookeepers struggle to capture a baku (a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature), they must decide whether to hide these rare beasts, or display them in the confines of a zoo.

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Far more than just a surfing story, FACING MONSTERS digs deep into the psyche of enigmatic West Australian ‘slab wave’ surfer Kerby Brown, a man whose connection with the ocean runs as deep as his love for his family.

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Official Selection at Cannes Film Festival and winner of the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, FLEE weaves together a stunning tapestry of images and memories to tell the deeply affecting story of a man grappling with his traumatic past in order to find his true self and the real meaning of home.

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In the depths of an ancient forest, something has been growing. Something older than humanity itself, and perhaps greater too. When a park ranger discovers a strange man and his son living wild, she stumbles onto a secret that is about to change the world.

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In post-war Germany, Hans is imprisoned again and again for being homosexual. The one steady relationship in his life becomes his long time cell mate, Viktor, a convicted murderer. What starts as revulsion grows into something called love.

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From the extraordinary mind of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and starring Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton, MEMORIA centres on a Scottish woman who, after hearing a strange banging sound at daybreak, begins to experience a bizarre sensory syndrome while she’s traveling through the jungles of Colombia.

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A highlight of the 2021 Berlinale, acclaimed director Céline Sciamma tells a delicate tale of childhood and an intergenerational connection that crosses through time.

As eight-year-old Nelly adjusts to the passing of her grandmother, she befriends a young girl in the forest, striking up an intimate friendship with this mysterious yet somehow very familiar girl.

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A profound cinematic and musical reflection on how rivers have shaped both the planet’s elaborate landscapes and all human existence. RIVER is the sequel to the 2017 hit documentary MOUNTAIN, reuniting the creative team of director Jennifer Peedom, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, narrator Willem Dafoe and writer Robert Macfarlane.

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Front row? Centre back? Middle middle? Where's your favourite place to sit?


Lured by a black and white photograph, Renan Ozturk (Sherpa, Meru) along with two renowned climbers, pursue the ultimate climbing adventure. Friendships begin to fray when Renan suffers a near fatal brain injury, forcing all three to decide what’s most important to them.

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The latest masterpiece from Christian Petzold, director of Barbara and Transit. Winner of the prestigious FIPRESCI Award and the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival, UNDINE is a bold reimagining of an ancient myth. Undine is a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. When the man she loves leaves her, Undine must kill the man who betrayed her and return to the water she once came from.

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Winner of the Best Actress Award in main competition Cannes 2021. Julie is turning thirty and her life is an existential mess. THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD is an intelligent and witty look at navigating the complex world of dating and relationships.

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In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit (‘low caste’) women. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions, redefining what it means to be powerful. Winner of the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival, WRITING WITH FIRE is an eye-opening and inspiring documentary you won’t want to miss.

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