Whether you love oceans or mountains, are curious about Korean cinema or want to learn more about Indigenous cultures in the Northern Territory, there’s a film festival out there for you. Here’s our lowdown.
When it comes to the film festival circuit in Australia, we all know to visit the old standbys – Sydney Film Festival, Adelaide Film Festival and Melbourne International come to mind. But what about more niche or themed festivals, where you can delight in your favourite styles and genres for an entire week straight?
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled some of the most unique film festivals across Australia.
Surely one of these will tickle your film-loving fancy.
Sydney Underground Film Festival
This unconventional film festival held at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville premiers unique independent films that push the limits of filmmaking. For four days, watch a line-up of movies devoted to renewing local interest in experimental film as a part of an international underground film culture.
This year’s festival, held in September, took viewers on a journey of intriguing and inspiring works of film, closing its final night with Nicholas Cage’s bloody and harrowing performance in Mandy.
Sydney Underground has become the perfect place for unconventional film-lovers to gather and celebrate the strange and eccentric side of the film world.
For 2019 details, head to the Sydney Underground Film Festival website.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival
Australia tour dates and locations TBA
For all the adrenaline-junkies out there, make sure to catch the Banff Mountain Film Festival as it makes a pit stop in Australia along its international tour, showcasing the best of mountain adventure film.
This unique film festival has been running since 1976 with 375 films entered annually, ranging in topics from remote landscapes and cultures to adrenaline-packed action sport.
The festival is held every November in Banff, Canada where 300 films are shown over the course of a week.
Two hours of award-winning content is then chosen to tour 35 countries, with the festival gracing Australian screens throughout April, May and June.
SF3 SmartFone Flick Fest
If you’re looking for a challenge when it comes to filmmaking, this one-of-a-kind festival gets creative with some unusual submission parameters.
At the SF3 SmartFone Flick Fest, every film submitted must only being shot on a smartphone or tablet and cannot be more than six and a half minutes in length. Perfect for the short attention span.
This festival offers a variety of masterclasses alongside the film premiers and makes for an exciting and one-of-a-kind event. It’s the place for film lovers to experience the future of technology and its partnership with top-notch filmmaking.
Cradle Mountain Film Festival
Cradle Mountain, Tas
In its fifth year, Cradle Mountain Film Festival showcases some of the best mountain film from around the world. Created by the Cradle Mountain Canyons, an adventure tourism group, the CMFF aims to engage viewers through the power of art and film as well as offer an insight into the Tasmanian mountainside.
This event wants visitors to experience filmmaking second to mountaineering. Enjoy the self-guided Mountain Huts Film Trail, canyoning, yoga and cold water therapy in addition to family-friendly mountain films in the Forest Yurt Cinema. The next edition runs from 29–31 March 2019.
Korean Film Festival in Australia
Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane
The Korean Film Festival will be hitting Australia for the 10th year in 2019, showcasing the latest Korean filmmaking along its Australian tour.
Korean Film Festival strives to reach Australian audiences through universal themes and genres, with 22 films and special guests throughout the four locations.
Visiting Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, the festival offers a vibrant selection of films sure to delight fans of Korean culture as well as introduce Korean cinema to a broader Australian demographic.
Showcasing indie flicks, rom-coms and more, the festival schedule never disappoints and offers a unique experience that will take you on a journey – you’ll forget you’re even in Oz.
Tasmania Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival
Held in May and the only annual film festival in the region, the Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival brings over 30 award-winning films and documentaries from across the world to Launceston.
The four-day festival strives to create a community experience featuring the best of local food, wine and film.
Expect a variety of films from a number of unique categories such as Stories of Us showcasing Tasmanian and Australian stories, Eat/Drink/Live featuring fine food, wine and sustainable living, and Call of the Wild telling stories of extreme adventures in the mountains, sea and air. These stories are viewed on the big screen while enjoying the best of Tasmania dining at this experiential film event.
Environmental Film Festival Australia
The Environmental Film Festival Australia entertains Victorian audiences each year in October with films traversing the relationship between humans and their environment, in an effort to raise awareness for environmental issues around the world.
This festival challenges viewers to reflect on the natural world and discuss positive change, by partnering inspirational filmmaking with panel discussions and debates.
Australia has some of the most distinct and stunning natural environments in the world, thus making the perfect location for an environmentalist platform.
Viewers are encouraged to take what they learn from these events and try to make small differences each day toward sustainability. You will visit this captivating event as a viewer and leave motivated to make change.
Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival
Sydney is known for its iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and this film festival fits appropriately into the week’s LGBTIQ pride festivities, running each year in autumn as part of the city-wide celebration.
Celebrating its 25th year in 2018, Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival showcases queer filmmakers and artists who share the diversity of sexualities and gender identities on screen.
This annual festival reflects the greater Mardi Gras theme as an eccentric and colourful installation into one of Sydney’s biggest events.
Experience Mardi Gras with inspiring tales of diversity by some of Australia’s best filmmakers.
Human Rights Arts & Film Festival
Melbourne, Vic; Launceston, Tas; Canberra, ACT
The Human Rights Arts & Film Festival, a not-for-profit arts organisation, stands out for its seamless incorporation of human rights into the film industry.
This annual event held in May and June explores diverse and inspiring Australian human stories through film, art, music and forums.
Films shown this year included a multi-generational family fighting for Indigenous rights, and the inspiring story of OzHarvest CEO Ronni Kahn and her latest crusade.
The festival aims to engage audiences of all ages with social justice and human rights issues, with the help of local and national artists. It’s an art and film frenzy with a wonderful message.
Fleurieu Film Festival
McLaren Vale, SA
With all the excitement around feature film festivals, we often forget to celebrate short film. Luckily, the Fleurieu Film Festival, held next on 9 February 2019, does just that.
Though still in its early years, the short film celebration has become immensely popular for its chosen films as well as its community-feel.
The festival provides a relaxing experience set at the Serafino Winery where food, drink and entertainment go hand-in-hand.
Awards and screening nights offer award-winning wines and dinner included with your ticket overlooking the distant South Australian hillside – the ideal way to experience short film.
Ocean Film Festival Australia
Every state and most major cities
The Ocean Film Festival Australia tour makes sure to hit nearly every major city in Australia, advocating for our oceans’ protection.
This inspiring festival shares stories of exploration and education with over two hours of inspirational and entertaining ocean-related content.
Both Australian and international filmmakers are showcased each year in March covering a range of topics including oceanic environment, marine creatures, ocean related sports, coastal cultures and ocean-lovers.
This is the perfect festival for nature-lovers and advocates, as well as those who yearn to learn a little bit more about our incredible oceans.
Travelling Film Festival
NT, QLD, NSW
Following years of success at the Darwin International Film Festival, a platform has now been created by the Darwin Film Society to showcase inspiring film work exclusively out of the Northern Territory.
Hitting 18 towns nationwide, the Travelling Film Festival aims to share stories from the Northern Territory with the rest of Australia.
This event enhances the diverse culture of the local community through alternative feature filmmaking, much of which comes from regional and remote NT.
The Darwin Film Society has created a truly unique film experience encapsulating what it means to be a part of the Northern Territory.