Films – and people – are coming from all over the world for this year's BIFF.
31 Oct 2011 - 11:15 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:09 PM

It was a pleasant surprise for BIFF director Richard Moore when, out of the blue, he was told that 10 people were coming from Greenland to see their feature film screen at the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF).

Read SBS Film reviews of films in the BIFF program

“Some things you can plan for as a festival director but a lot of things just come out of the woodwork and this was one of those,” said Moore.

At the core of Inuk is an Inuit teenager's struggle between modern life and tradition country after he is removed from a toxic home environment to a foster home 800 kilometres above the Arctic Circle.

Writer/director Mike Magidson, who cast many non-actors selected from a home for troubled youth, will be among the visitors. Hearing about films from the filmmakers involved is one of the great joys of festivals of course, and there will be many opportunities when BIFF opens in Brisbane this Thursday, November 3.

New Zealand-based debut feature director Tusi Tamasese will be on hand to discuss The Orator, the first feature ever made in Samoa. Love and honour are the key themes of this story of a taro farmer who has to find the courage to speak up after an unexpected calamity occurs. Tickets are selling at great speed. “It is a small film in a foreign language but there is a big Samoan population in Brisbane,” said Moore referring to the speed at which tickets are selling.

Director Victor De Sousa and producer Joao Ferro are coming with Uma Lulik, the first documentary entirely filmed and made in East Timor by an East Timorese filmmaker. An uma lulik is a sacred house where the living remember their ancestors and the more recently deceased.

Another guest of the festival is Freddie Wong, who directed The Drunkard (pictured), about a disillusioned writer in a steamy and ill-advised liaison. The drama is adapted from a novel by acclaimed Hong Kong author Liu Yi-chang. Another is Dutch director Leonard Retel Helmrich who has capped off his trilogy about a family living in the slums of Jakarta with Position Among the Stars.

And for those interested in Japanese cinema and gore, not only can they see Helldriver, the latest release from cult cinema production studio Sushi Typhoon, but they can also hear from director Yoshihiro Mishimura.

In addition, Moore invited Tim League, director of Fantastic Fest in the US, to put together a program of cult films: “I am still trying to crack the formula of what works in Brisbane – last year's strand of music documentaries didn't – but I know it has a dark side,” said Moore, chuckling. There's also a program of Spanish language films and another celebrated 50 years of Critics Week at Cannes.

Brisbane's 20th film festival includes more than 100 films over 11 days at five venues including a drive-in. Other big sellers besides The Orator are: Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, adapted from the John le Carré's novel about cold war espionage; David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, about the relationship between psychoanalysts Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein; and many of the Australian films including Tony Krawitz's The Tall Man about Chris Hurley's part in the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee back in 2004 on Palm Island.

Lovers of classical music are also flocking to see two films played back to back, Prelude and The Curse of the Gothic Symphony, both of which feature the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Building a context by finding films that go well together and provide a bigger experience is part of the role of a festival director.

Moore has also paired the sumptuous 1960 Palme d'Or winner La Dolce Vita, and We Who Have Lived La Dolce Vita, a documentary about the many people who worked on the film by Federico Fellini. He has also scheduled In the Company of Eric Rohmer, which French new wave film buffs will relish, he said.

The Brisbane International Film Festival runs from 3-13 November. For more information visit the festival website.