Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

20 Years on film: The Canberra International Film Festival

Amanda Smith

Celebrating 20 years of tears and tragedy, laughs and lust, cinematic screenscapes and emotive soundtracks, the Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF) will return in October.

The launch of the CIFF this past Thursday heralded the return of the much-anticipated celebration, with Festival Director Alice Taylor unveiling a festival program that promises to tick every film junkie’s boxes.

Returning to the iconic setting of the National Sound and Film Archive (NFSA), where the CIFF will stay for the next three years, 2016’s program differs to last year’s in a number of ways, most notably in a lack of commercial films.

“We’ve pulled together a program that’s completely non-commercial that you wouldn’t see at the regular cinema,” explains Alice. “A lot of them have been selected because they draw attention to a diversity of voices.”

Across the course of the the festival there will be films shown from 15 different countries. Under Alice’s guidance, CIFF’s established thematic ‘streams’ have also been expanded to include a large selection of films by women.

“As a female director of the Canberra International Film Festival, I am really proud to be able to bring more films that are made by women that portray stronger and more complex female roles on screen, and that’s the advantage of supporting more women in the film industry,” says Alice.


Festival Director Alice Taylor

As the CIFF celebrates diversity, it’s only natural that the program has something for all viewers, right down to the kids. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the classic Aussie film, Storm Boy, CIFF is presenting a special re-mastered version of the film created by the NSFA with special guests from the film.

And for a slightly more adult-themed evening, Halloween will be celebrated with a blockbuster line-up of horror on Monday 31 October.

“Halloween falls right in the middle of our festival, so we’ve got a double feature of horror films, The Frankenstein Complex and Rob Zombie’s latest film called 31 which is real gore-fest.”

This year, the festival has a brand new ticketing system that will give patrons a more personalised experience. Guests can choose from individual passes to a three film ‘Festival Sampler’ or even a Patron’s Pass, which will give them access to every single screening, including special events.

These might turn out to be quite the hot ticket, as special events include the 20th Anniversary Gala, which will feature a screening of an original 35mm print of iconic Australian film Children of the Revolution at which Richard ‘Cleaver Greene’ Roxburgh himself will be in attendance.



This hilarious Hungarian black-comedy follows the journey of three disabled hitmen. Trust us, it looks as good as it sounds.


Poignant, honest and uplifting, this documentary follows Selvi, India’s first female taxi driver. A former child bride who escaped her abusive husband after being married at 14, Selvi’s story has warmed the hearts of many.


Dark and thrilling, this story takes place in the prison system of Singapore where a young man’s father is executed through the country’s capital punishment system. In a twist of fate, the young man begins work in the same prison and the plot thickens.

“My heart was in my mouth the entire film,” says Alice.

the essentials

What: The 20th Canberra International Film Festival
When: 27 October to 6 November
Where: The National Film and Sound Archive, McCoy Circuit, Acton
Web: To book tickets and find more information, click here:

HerCanberra are proud sponsors of The 20th Canberra International Film Festival


Amanda Smith

Amanda is a lunch enthusiast and Canberra local with a love of all things curious. With a background in photography and current studies in journalism, she hopes to produce work on the human condition and what makes us so intricate. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her eccentric family and buying bread, dip and olives from the Old Bus Depot Markets for lunch on a Sunday. More about the Author