Home and Away: The dopest indie film fests down under
With a thriving independent film community, it’s no surprise Australia’s film fests are so strong. Full of diversity, personality, and social awareness, Australian indie film festivals offer a compelling mix of movies with a vast array of opportunities for filmmakers of all genres and interests. Whether you’re looking to be entertained, or to entertain, you’ll easily find an event down under that perfectly caters to your tastes or personal filmmaking style, no matter how niche. Here are ten of the most interesting and exceptional Aussie independent film festivals you need to know about.
October 22 – November 1
Sydney, New South Wales
With an aim to provide opportunities for independent filmmakers to be seen, screened, and discovered, this film festival is as captivating as it is socially engaging. Open to independent movies of any budget, the Sydney Indie Film Festival is dedicated first & foremost to supporting indie filmmakers, while sharing great stories with a local audience. In 2017, the event was the biggest independent film festival held in Australia, having screened 137 films over eleven days.
November 25 – July 31
Showcasing a vast variety of the world’s finest & trashiest films, including “Short video nasties, horror, schlock, bad taste comedy, sick and twisted toons, faux film trailers, mockumentaries, and mental music clips,” Trasharama is proudly distasteful and objectionable. Premiering each year at Melbourne Monster Fest before touring across Australia, Trasharama favors short, shocking slices of noxious cinematic genius (of under fifteen minutes).
October 12 – 21
Byron Bay, New South Wales
Featuring a diverse program of films of all lengths & genres, the BBIFF seeks to showcase independent cinema reflecting the interests and values of the local community. As such, at BBIFF you’ll find movies with a strong emphasis on social and environmental issues, indigenous culture, multiculturalism, nature, and of course heaps of humour and Byron Bay’s favorite pastime – surfing. Showcasing hundreds of entertaining and inspiring movies from over forty countries across ten days, the BBIFF highlights outstanding work within what has become a notoriously laid back vibe.
Celebrating the best local content from around Queensland, this one-night film festival features short films, music videos, and movie trailers within the comforts of a backyard party. Recent attendees of the festival raved about the BBFF’s “old school drive-in style”, which showcases eight locally made shorts or documentaries of twenty minutes or less. The recommended way to enjoy the festival? “Bring your rug, grab a beer, and fill-up on delicious food.”
September 1 – 7
St. Kilda, Victoria
This cutting-edge premiere showcase is known for its “radical, adventurous, and iconoclastic programming decisions.” Championing diverse voices within the worldwide independent and underground film & video community, MUFF disrupts the stuffy traditions of mainstream cinema, looking beyond production values to discover unique, emerging filmmakers. The festival is famed for helping launch and incubate the careers of a number of celebrated indie filmmakers including Bruce La Bruce (Gerontophilia), James Wan (The Conjuring), and Jenna Fischer (Slither).
May 31 – August 31
Adelaide, South Australia
An international film festival with a focus on scientific stories, SCINEMA is a celebration of filmmaking that explores the intricacies of the universe and our place within it. Established in 2000, the festival hosts screenings right across Australia before premiering films as part of a nationwide community program to an audience of around 37,000 people. Films screened at SCINEMA center on topics including “the thrill of discovery, the awesome scale of our universe, the beauty of nature, environmental challenges that we face on our planet, and how technology will shape our future.”
As one of the best indie film festivals in Australia for networking & promotion, the AIFF showcases top indie cinema from across the globe alongside a plethora of opportunities for filmmakers to connect, collaborate, and mingle with key industry professionals. In attendance at the AIFF are a number of film distributors, agents, producers, and industry insiders, alongside passionate cineastes as they rub shoulders with filmmakers at screenings, social events, and awards presentations.
September 12 – 18
West Perth, Western Australia
Perth International Queer Film Festival is the only LGBTQI film festival on the West Coast of Australia, screening a diverse batch of the freshest queer indie cinema from around the world. Showcasing shorts & features with significant explorations of LGBTQI identity and issues, the festival is a growing event full of networking opportunities and unabashed queer pride.
September 21 – 29
Adelaide, South Australia
With the tagline “Sharing stories – inspiring unity,” the AIYFF provides a unique opportunity for children, teens, and young adults aged five to eighteen plus to connect and grow by exploring the art of cinematic storytelling. As well as showcasing an eclectic blend of international & local indie films selected to inspire conversation surrounding topical issues affecting young people today, AIYFF also features an abundance of workshops, panels, and filmmaker Q&As, making the event essential for the next generation of aspiring cinematic visionaries.
October 11 – 18
Providing a “catalyst for positive and sustainable change,” the EFFA takes audiences on a profound exploration of pressing environmental and sustainability issues, pivoting critical conversation around powerful indie films. Featuring movies from the world’s “most talented and socially conscious filmmakers,” the EFFA is dedicated to movies both by and for Australians, while focusing on topics exploring habitats, geography, urban life, and the connections & challenges between people & places.