New Australian films to see at Adelaide Film Festival

The jewel in South Australia’s cinematic crown once again fields a packed line-up of local highlights.

Artistic director Mat Kesting has pulled off an incredible coup with this year’s Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) line-up, scoring two of the hottest tickets folks have been waiting for. There’s The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos’ Golden Lion-winner Poor Things, a Frankenstein-like feminist fable starring Emma Stone, plucked straight from Venice. Then there’s Saltburn, the latest from Promising Young Woman filmmaker Emerald Fennel, starring Barry Keoghan and Australian actor Jacob Elordi as very Brideshead Revisited lovers, scooped direct from Telluride.

Turning our attentions closer to home, here are a few Aussie highlights we’re keen to see when the festival opens in October.  

The Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel. Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

Marking the opening night gala, Melbourne filmmaker Kitty Green follows up on her impressive dramatic debut feature The Assistant by re-teaming with Ozark star Julia Garner and pairing her with Glass Onion’s Jessica Henwick as American backpackers who pick the wrong Wake in Fright-like outback pub to earn some coin while travelling in Australia. Pretty soon, all hell breaks loose. You can hear Green talk about her writing process in this session.

If you like a bit of mayhem with your Australian stories, also check out Hugo Weaving and Phoenix Raei in The Rooster, with the former a guest of the fest.


Speedway. Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

Returning the favour in opening weekend’s American-Australian outreach program, local directors Luke Rynderman and Adam Kamien’s US-set true crime drama allows the four victims of the infamous 1978 Speedway, Arizona ‘Burger Chef Murders’ a say in what may have happened to them in this genre-melding fusion of documentary and drama.

First Nations First Films

The Getaway. Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

With the momentous referendum on the Voice to Parliament taking place the weekend before AFF opens, this triptych of shorts from First Nations filmmakers will be unmissable viewing. Wongutha man Travis Akbar fields Tambo, about a soldier returned from the horror of Gallipoli. Ngarrindjeri/Kaurna writer/director Adam Jenkins spins ghost story The Getaway, and Wiradjuri filmmaker Edoardo Crismani sees a teen learning Auslan to communicate with her deaf Aunty.

Mutiny in Heaven: the Birthday party

Contact sheet of Nick Cave and the Birthday Party at a portrait session in a disused church in Kilburn, London on 22 October 1981. (Image: David Corio/Redferns).

Before the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave fronted the post-punk decadence of Melbourne antiheroes The Birthday Party, who’d go on to stake their claim on London, as championed by radio legend John Peel, and, briefly, Berlin too, popping up in seminal Wim Wenders movie Wings of Desire. Director Ian White traces their notoriously chaotic path led by Cave, Rowland S. Howard, Mick Harvey, Tracy Pew and Phill Calvert in this official AFF competition nominee.

Housekeeping for Beginners

Housekeeping for Beginners. Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

Melbourne-based filmmaker Goran Stolevski, who delivered luminous queer lover letter Of an Age, will be a guest of the festival, presenting the Australian premiere of his latest magnificence. Taking him back to Macedonia, the country of his birth, it stars Anamaria Marinca – who also popped up in his spooky shape-shifting fable You Won’t Be Alone – as a harried healthcare worker and queer woman whose humble home has become something of a sanctuary for LGBTQIA+ youth, Romani people and other outsiders.

For queer love that hits closer to home, check out Melbourne-set feature Sunflower too.

Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles

Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles. Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

A certain blue heeler pup and her fam may have achieved international stardom, but on the home turf, The Wiggles hold their own when it comes to the hearts and minds of our littlest Australians, which is why this Sunday arvo session at the beautiful Art Deco Capri Theatre is sure to go off.  Described as ‘The Beatles for pre-schoolers’, join Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt in the Big Red Car as they spill the beans on this joyous phenomenon, as loving captured by documentarian Sally Aitken.


Sahela: Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

Featuring Slow Horses actor Antonio Aakeel and fast-rising Indian star Anula Navlekar as a newly married Indian-Australian couple living in the Western Sydney suburb of Parramatta, their families couldn’t be prouder. She’s a dentist, he’s training to be an accountant, and they play the sitar together. But neither of them is entirely happy playing the roles expected of them in Raghuvir Joshi’s feature directorial debut that throws everything up in the air when one of the pair begins to explore long-dormant feelings that may just transform their identity in this official competition entry.

You’ll Never Find Me

You’ll Never Find Me. Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

Horror lovers would be mad to miss this psychological thriller from local filmmakers Indianna Bell and Josiah Allen, which joins Sahela in the official competition. Their nerve-shredding debut feature stars Wolf Creek 2 alum Jordan Cowan as a young woman who seeks safe harbour during a storm in the caravan owned by Carnifex actor Brendan Rock’s Patrick. But what secrets does this stranger bring, and will either person ever be the same again in this ‘the less you know, the better’ scenario?

If Australian spookers are your thing, also check out Late Night with the Devil.

My Name’s Ben Folds – I Play Piano

My Name’s Ben Folds – I Play Piano. Image: Adelaide Film Festival.

Closing the festival in style, AFF will host the world premiere of Oscar-nominated South Australian documentary filmmaker Scott Hicks’ fascinating documentary about the American singer-songwriter who took the world by storm, with the North Carolinian beaming into the session live from the States. As if this weren’t star power enough, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra have also leant their muscle to this musical marvel. This journalist will also host an in-depth discussion about Hicks’ esteemed career, capturing music on screen.

Visit the Adelaide Film Festival website for more information.