Adelaide Film Festival unveils 2020 program

AFF-BlackbirdThe 2020 Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) has unveiled the full program that will see films screening in cinemas for 12 glorious days from 14 – 25 October.

When we can’t go to the world, the inaugural program from CEO / Creative Director Mat Kesting brings the world to us with a remarkable collection of feature films, documentaries, short films and series from South Australia, Australia and around the globe.

AFF is one of the first film festivals to be able to return to cinemas this year and, with 22 World Premieres, 27 Australian Premieres and a total of 54 feature films from more than 40 countries featuring acclaimed actors and directors as well as new and exciting film discoveries, this diverse array of cinematic delights – alongside inspiring talks and COVID-safe galas and events – offers timely cultural and artistic nourishment.

“Festivals are about bringing people together and we are so lucky in South Australia to be able to do this during this challenging time,” said Mat Kesting, Adelaide Film Festival CEO and Artistic Director. “We have taken great care with this year’s program to celebrate our local and national talent within a broader international context.”

“We have consciously selected work we hope will have broad appeal and there will be something for everyone. We invite audiences to embrace all that the Festival offers, including lots of fabulous nights out!”

Long heralded for its commitment to Australian talent, the Festival will host the World Premieres of three local feature films, including the Opening Night film, the futuristic thriller 2067 directed by Seth Larney and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, four feature documentaries, a six-part webseries and several short films.

These films have all been supported through the world-renowned Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund and will take audiences on journeys from the streets of Kabul, to the players’ sheds of the Port Adelaide Football Club, to the agonising hill climbs of the Tour de France and into the subculture of Adelaide’s trash film scene. There will also be a repeat of I Am Woman, starring Festival favourite and South Australian Tilda Cobham-Hervey.

This year’s Don Dunstan Award recipient, the hugely successful Hollywood-based producer – and another proud South Australian – Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies, Wild, The Nightingale) will be In Conversation with AFF patron Margaret Pomeranz AM on the first Saturday of the Festival.

Their wide-ranging conversation will deal with topics such as the opportunities for advancing the status of women in film production, as well as Ms Papandrea’s insights into the Australian and international industries, and what it takes to get you from Adelaide to the biggest companies in the world.

The 2020 AFF Feature Fiction and Documentary competitions will be decided by a prestigious jury whose expertise covers a broad range of engagements with the screen, from writing, criticism, exhibition to production.

This year’s jury is playwright and screenwriter (and previous Don Dunstan Award recipient) Andrew Bovell; director, producer and screenwriter Khao Do; film critic and programmer Zak Hepburn; producer Rebecca Summerton and actress, singer and dancer Natasha Wanganeen.

The Feature Fiction Competition selection is truly international, and features the best films from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia, including Australia’s High Ground (director Stephen Maxwell Johnson), which wowed audiences and critics at this year’s Berlin Film Festival; The Perfect Candidate, the new film from Saudi Arabia’s first woman director Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadjda); and the previously announced Cannes Film Festival selection Another Round, starring Mads Mikkelsen and directed by Thomas Vinterberg.

In Competition also includes the follow Australian premieres of the 2020 Venice Film Festival’s Horizon’s opening film, Apples, directed by Greek filmmaker, Christos Nikou, and from the Cannes Film Festival official program, Beginning, a harrowing and beautifully constructed first feature by Georgia’s Dea Kulumbegashvili, which is also to screen at this year’s Toronto and New York Film Festivals.

The Documentary Competition includes the Sundance-winners The Painter and the Thief and Epicentro, while the films in the Sounds of Rebellion strand capture those life-transforming moments where the music of the last half century – from punk to power pop and on to grunge – has risen against racism, given voice to the rise of feminism, and told countless young people that it’s alright to be who they wanna be.

The provocative selection in the Change the Status Quo strand are films about fearless women setting out to change the world including the Australian docos The Leadership, Brazen Hussies and Wild Things.

The Audience Award will be back in 2020 and, while AFF can’t provide washers to put on pegs this year (being COVID-conscious), audiences will be invited to register their votes on-line. Audiences will also be invited to vote for the AFF Change Award for positive social or environmental impact – providing $5,000 for the feature that best celebrates these values – as voted by the AFF Audience.

2020 has been a devastating year for artists worldwide. Now more than ever, AFF wishes to support independent filmmakers. The Australian Indies strand showcases the work of fresh Australian voices, offering unique insight into the Australian experience, while the new program, Film Concept Lab, presents more bold news voices and works with three World Premieres of proof of concept films, by three local creatives.

The Made in SA shorts program will again showcase the very best of South Australian filmmaking talent. This program has proven to be where the next generation of feature filmmakers are profiled and this year is no exception with a rich selection of diverse talent.

Three other shorts programs including Tarnanthi Indigenous shorts, World and Animation short films will feature as part of the festival as well as a peppering of shorts before features – a long held and special tradition.

This support for Australian filmmakers sits alongside AFF’s bold Contemporary World Cinema program with films from around the globe including the Sundance Best Screenplay and Audience Award winner Identifying Features (Mexico/Spain), and the Toronto International Film Festival selection, Blackbird, which features an all-star cast including Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill, Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska.

The AFF ends with the Closing Night Gala screening of the sweet and heart-warming Minariwinner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance. The film follows a Korean family that migrates to the US in the 1980s, who immediately move to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.

The 2020 Adelaide Film Festival runs from 14 – 25 October. For more information, including the full program, visit: for details.

Image: Blackbird (film still)