Welcome to CIFF

Andrew Pike

Festival Director 2019

Our aim in 2019 is to present a short 3-film event as a prelude to a larger event in 2020. The goal is to become a fully retrospective festival, presenting celebrated and neglected films from the past, given contemporary relevance through a range of guest speakers, Q&As and panel discussions. The emphasis will be on achievements by filmmakers who have worked in Australia, and also exploring the work of the Australian diaspora abroad.

One of the themes that we are keen to explore is Australia as depicted in overseas productions. We introduce that theme this year with a genuine oddity: UNDER CAPRICORN (1949), an uncharacteristic Hitchcock film, set in Australia’s convict-era (though filmed entirely in the UK), and based on a novel by an Australian author, Helen Simpson. (Simpson herself is perhaps a worthy subject for exploration through the films based on her novels). Next year we hope to show John Farrow’s venture into the convict era - BOTANY BAY with Alan Ladd.

Many of the film festivals that are presented these days in commercial cinemas in Canberra have a few retrospective elements, usually presented as nostalgia, but apart from the exemplary Cinema Reborn Festival in Sydney, no major festival in Australia has to date been prepared to go as far as we hope to go in 2020. For us, it is about pushing the envelope in order to accentuate our difference from the plethora of national film festivals focussing on “the New”, and to give ourselves a truly distinctive place in the local and national Festival landscape, offering a strong, curated celebration of what is known and unknown in the past of cinema.

By design, our short program this year, and our longer program in 2020, intend to provide an immersive viewing experience which we hope you will want to engage with and will find stimulating and memorable.