Adelaide Film Festival 2023: ten films to watch

If you're in Adelaide in October, the film festival offers some irresistible cinematic treats.

Ahead of its full program launch, the Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) has released some of the top titles it will be showcasing this October. Here are ten not to miss:

The Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel. Image: AFF.

(Kitty Green/ Australia)

Green takes the classic Australian outback hair-rasier and subverts the genre by telling it from a distinctly female point of view. The film follows Americans Hanna (Julia Garner) and Liv (Jessica Henwick) as they take a job in a remote pub for some extra cash and are confronted with unruly locals and a situation that grows out of their control.

Read: The Royal Hotel – need to know


Speedway. Image: AFF.

(Luke Rynderman & Adam Kamien/ Australia, United States)

This pulsating true-crime docudrama sheds new light on the unsolved murders that claimed the lives of four teens working in a burger restaurant in 1978. Crafted through stunning re-enactments and tense witness interviews, Speedway unravels mishandled evidence and wild revelations that cater to the most insatiable true crime appetite

Anatomy of a Fall

Anatomy of a Fall. Image: AFF.

(Justine Triet/ France)

Winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes, the absorbing crime drama is full of intelligence and depth. Sandra, a successful novelist, faces trial after her husband, Samuel, falls to his death from the balcony of their chalet in the French Alps. Did he throw himself or did Sandra dispatch him?

Read: New cinema releases and film festivals in Australia September 2023


Galang. Image: AFF

(Adriyanto Dewo/ Indonesia)

19-year-old Galang searches for answers to his grief and guilt after his sister is killed in a stampede at a heavy metal concert. He drops out and becomes part of the entourage of the band who were playing that fatal night, and ultimately finds a lifeline back to the world.


Monster. Image: AFF.

(Hirokazu Kore-eda/ Japan)

Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of the greatest directors alive – his films are always must-see. A young boy alarms his widowed mother by beginning to act in a strange and self-destructive way, and it appears his teacher may be bullying him. Gossip and inference quickly become accepted as fact, but things are not as simple as they seem at first …

Isla’s Way

Isla’s Way. Image: AFF.

(Marion Pilowsky / Australia)

Formidable grandmother Isla Roberts is adamant. She insists that although she’s not a lesbian, her girlfriend Susan is. In this tender, richly humorous portrait of an 87-year-old horse carriage driving champion, we learn what makes an ordinary life extraordinary.

Housekeeping for Beginners

Housekeeping for Beginners. Image: AFF.

(Goran Stolevski/ North Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Poland, Kosovo)

This special Australian premiere is a luminous, emotionally engaging drama on found family and social injustice. When a woman’s girlfriend falls terminally ill, she is forced to promise she will raise her partner’s two reluctant daughters. But due to the country’s legal position on same-sex marriage and adoption, she must re-marry fast.

Read: Goran Stolevski interview ‘I’m intensely connected to the characters’ 

You’ll Never Find Me

You’ll Never Find Me. Image: AFF.

(Josiah Allen & Indianna Bell/ Australia)

This confident, claustrophobic, psychological thriller follows a strange hermit, Patrick, who lives in an isolated caravan park. During a violent thunderstorm, a mysterious young woman appears at his door, seeking shelter from the weather. The longer the night wears on and the more the young woman discovers about Patrick, the more difficult she finds it to leave.

Her Name is Nanny Nellie

Her Name is Nanny Nellie. Image: AFF.

(Daniel King/ Australia)

In 1925, the Australian Museum commissioned three statues of ‘full blood’ Aboriginal people, exhibited as nameless objects to be studied as examples of a ‘dying race’. Now Irene is on a journey to retrace their lives and to reconnect the families to their ancestors’ statues and re-display them, this time with their names, identities and dignity. It’s an opportunity to give the nameless names.

Rewards for the Tribe

Rewards for the Tribe. Image: AFF.

(Rhys Graham/ Australia)

The acclaimed, genre-defying Chunky Move and beloved Adelaide-based company Restless Dance Theatre – whose troupe consists of performers with disabilities – develop a major new work that tests the boundaries of group harmony and myths of creative perfection. 

The Adelaide Film Festival runs from 18–29 October 2023. Visit the festival website for more information, including screening times and tickets.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites