The 27th annual Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) has revealed its 2021 program today, including an unprecedented number of award-winners, world premieres, Australian and state premieres.

Returning from October 21 to 31, BIFF opens with the anticipated revisionist outback western directed by and starring Leah Purcell, The Drover’s Wife: The Legend Of Molly Johnson. There’ll be a red carpet opening for the Queensland premiere of the film at Reading Cinema Newmarket, plus an encore screening at New Farm later in the month.

Another state premiere is closing film Memoria, which was this year’s winner of the 2021 Grand Jury Prize at Cannes – and it’s the first English language feature from auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, starring Tilda Swinton.

BIFF includes 103 films in total, screening across the city’s cinemas – New Farm Cinemas, Reading Newmarket, Dendy Coorparoo, Palace James Street and GOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque included.

International heavyweights in the line-up include the confronting depiction of modern farm life in Cow, which was first shown at Cannes. There’s the absurd and dreamy Zola, by Janicza Bravo, based on the true story and infamous tweet-storm of Aziah “Zola” King starring Taylour Paige and Riley Keough. Plus Pedro Almodovar’s new short film The Human Voice, with another star turn from Tilda Swinton.

Of the Australian films to look out for, there’s the modern-day thriller Lone Wolf, which sees Hugo Weaving in a heavily surveilled Melbourne. Araatika: Rise Up! is director Larissa Behrendt’s documentary following prominent NRL player Dean Widders as he strives to create an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander equivalent of the haka, featuring Adam Goodes and Stan Grant. And Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow follows performers Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter behind the scenes at a legendary show.

In the “adrenaline” part of the program, there’s the fascinating Witches of the Orient from Japan. Director Julien Faraut meets the former players of the Japanese women’s volleyball team, who were coined “Witches of the Orient” because of their seemingly supernatural powers on the courts.

Then there’s a nostalgic throwback in the “family” section for kids of the ’90s who’ll recall the terror (and excitement) of watching Anjelica Huston in the 1990 classic The Witches, showing on Halloween at Reading Cinema Newmarket and Dendy Coorparoo.

Brisbane International Film Festival returns from October 21 to 31. Tickets range from $15 to $18 and they’re available now.

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