The Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) 2020 opened Thursday evening at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), through its Australian Cinémathèque.

In partnership with Brisbane venues, BIFF 2020 will screen new release feature films, documentaries, special events, and short films.

“We are delighted to celebrate diverse local and international storytelling with this opportunity for film-lovers to return to cinemas,” said QAGOMA Director Chris Saines.

BIFF 2020 will see the Australian premiere of the internationally acclaimed film, High Ground. Directed by Stephen Maxwell Johnson, High Ground is set in the early 20th century against the rugged Australian landscape. It stars acclaimed Australian actors Simon Baker and Jack Thompson, as well as newcomer Jacob Junior Nayinggul.

“Set in the extraordinary Northern Territory, High Ground tells of a terrible crime covered up until 12 years later when those involved are forced to reckon with the devastation it caused,” said Amanda Slack-Smith, Festival Artistic Director and Curatorial Manager at QAGOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque.

Set to run from October 1 to 11, BIFF 2020 will close with the world premiere of Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra.

Directed by Wayne Blair and Nel Minchen, the film pulls together interviews with Bangarra dancers and Stephen, Russell and David Page with home videos of the young Page family to tell the story of Indigenous contemporary dance company, Bangarra.

Firestarter will tell the story of Indigenous dance company, Bangarra. Photo supplied by BIFF 2020,

BIFF 2020 will also screen documentary, Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky. Directed by Steven McGregor, the documentary discusses the Captain Cook legend and talks to his arrival from an Indigenous perspective.

Narrated by Steven Oliver, the documentary features Indigenous musicians Daniel Rankine P.K.A. Trials, Mo’Ju and Birdz.

BIFF 2020 is also hosting multi-award-winning Australian actor Jack Thompson and Academy Award-nominated film editor Jill Bilcock as patrons of the event.

“It’s an honour to have the support of two celebrated screen industry veterans with such extensive local and international experience, and we are looking forward to screening a selection of their career highlights in the Festival,” Saines said.

The event is supported by the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland and the Federal Government through Screen Australia.

“The Queensland Government and Screen Queensland are proud supporters of BIFF 2020 and, with COVID-19 precautions in place, we are thrilled to be one of the first major film festivals in Australia welcoming audiences back to theatres for an unmissable 11 days of cinema,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

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By Rachael Knowles