Brisbane International Film Festival 2020 presents some of the best films from Europe

Brisbane Film Festival Europe

Brisbane International Film Festival 2020 presents some of the best films from Europe

The Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) program has officially been released! Screening over 70 films from around the world – including feature films, shorts, documentaries and experimental pieces – the program is sure to appeal to a very diverse audience.

From October 1-11, BIFF will present an in-cinema program across several COVID-safe venues in Brisbane. In addition to film screenings, audiences can also look forward to various special events, such as panel discussions, live music and dining experiences.

The films chosen this year showcase both emerging filmmakers and seasoned professionals from Australia and abroad. Here are our picks of the must-see European films to catch at the Brisbane International Film Festival this year.

About Endlessness (Germany, Sweden & Norway)


In his latest fable, Swedish auteur Roy Andersson tells a story of life’s melancholic beauty through a dreamy lens and his quintessential style of splendid banality.

Andersson’s vision of an absurd yet deeply human Europe plays out as a series of blackly comic vignettes — three teenagers dance for a scarcely populated cafe, a priest loses faith in God, and a couple glide far above a destroyed city. Despite Andersson’s use of greyed facades and sullen-eyed characters, About Endlessness peers inquisitively into the comically dry moments of pain, sadness and joy that punctuate all our lives.

Come and See (Russia)


Often cited as the greatest anti-war film ever made, Come and See is a masterpiece of Soviet cinema, presented in a new 2K digital restoration.

When teenage boy Flyora (Aleksey Kravchenko) sets out with a band of partisan fighters in Belorussia during World War Two, he is inspired by the promise of glory and adventure with his fellow patriots. Instead, he is swept into the dark and disorienting cloud of war permeating his land, from which there is no turning back. Mosfilm’s new restoration of Elem Klimov’s revered cinematic tour de force breathes new life into the film’s groundbreaking cinematography and sound design, showcasing both its incredible technical achievements as well as the enduring power of its timely anti-war message.

Vitalina Varela (Portugal)


A seemingly endless night permeates Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa’s masterful and haunting tale of resilience and reckoning with the past.

Vitalina’s husband left Cape Verde for Portugal forty years ago, promising to send her a plane ticket that never eventuated. Unaware that she is now a widow, Vitalina makes her own journey with the intention of finally confronting him. Stepping barefoot from the plane into the inky blackness of Lisbon, she enters a world in which characters come and go, and worn faces add to a poetic chorus of stories about her late husband and the hard life of the city. The film won Locarno Film Festival’s Best Film and Best Actress for Vitalina Varela, a non-actress with an arresting presence who plays herself, recreating her actual story of betrayal, persistence and strength.

Själö, Island of Souls (Finland)


Set off the coast of Finland on a tiny island in the Baltic Sea, Själö – Island of Souls is a moving meditation on the island’s complex relationship with transgressive women, illness, and authority.

Finnish artist and filmmaker Lotta Petronella likens to her documentary to that of a modern gothic story. With its wild and isolated location deeply intertwined with a long and turbulent history, it is not difficult to see why. From its early days as a remote hospital for lepers and the incurable, then the institutionalisation of difficult women, to an asylum for the mentally unwell, the island has a new role as home to the Centre of Environmental Research of the University of Turku. This irony, of a centre for the captured and observed to now be a recognised centre of scientific research, is not lost on Petronella who carefully crafts her otherworldly narrative with elements of past and present. Accompanied by the atmospheric, experimental soundscape by Finnish composer Lau this documentary is mesmerising.

Last and First Men (Iceland)


The directorial debut of late renowned film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario, Arrival) is a poetic future history that casts the other-worldly war memorials of former Yugoslavia as the realm of a future humanity that has migrated to Neptune. 

Adapted from British philosopher Olaf Stapledon’s 1930 science-fiction novel and originally staged as a multimedia performance, Jóhannsson’s last film, and first as director, takes us forward two billion years, from where our highly evolved descendants plead for us not to repeat their mistakes. Tilda Swinton’s measured narration to images of uninhabited and abstracted brutalist concrete forms, shot on richly textured 16mm film, combines with Jóhannsson’s sonorous score to create a meditative and mesmerising experience.

The Earth is Blue as an Orange (Ukraine and Lithuania)


A family uses their passion for filmmaking to escape daily life of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in this touching portrait of resilience.

Young aspiring cinematographer Myroslava Trofymchuk, and her mother, brothers and sisters, reject the endless monotony of war and take control of their place in the world by filming it. Director Iryna Tsilyk is brought into the fold to record how they recreate traumatic moments and capture their search for joyful release through playful creativity. Tsilyk’s debut feature is an unexpectedly heartwarming take on the war documentary, told through the lens of filmmaking itself.

Filibus (Itay)


Recently described as ‘the most exciting, witty, feminist, steampunk, cross-dressing aviatrix thriller you will ever see!’, this newly restored silent still delights more than a century after its initial release.

This delightful Italian crime caper finds the titular Filibus (Valeria Creti) traversing the skies in her airship, ready at a moment’s notice to be lowered into the abodes of the wealthy to secretly steal their riches. When the renowned Detective Kutt-Hendy (Giovanni Spano) is put on the case, Filibus must reach even greater levels of duplicity to stay one step ahead of capture. Featuring a stunning new restoration and tinting drawn from the original nitrate materials, this captivating adventure cannot be missed!

For more information on BIFF 2020, or to purchase a ticket, head to their website HERE.

Isabel Zakharova

Isabel Zakharova is a final-year student at UTS, studying Communications and International Studies. She loves reading, writing and exploring other cultures - through travel, film and cuisine. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]