The Substance will premiere in Australia at Sydney Film Festival’s closing night

After claiming an award at the Cannes Film Festival, The Substance will screen in Sydney for its Aus premiere.
Margaret Qualley in The Substance. Image: Mubi/SFF

US body horror film The Substance, which just picked up a gong for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, is set to have its Australian premiere next month at the Sydney Film Festival.

The film will show at the festival’s Closing Night Gala at the State Theatre on Sunday 16 June.

‘We are thrilled to close this year’s Sydney Film Festival with the Australian Premiere of The Substance,’ said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. ‘Coralie Fargeat’s film, featuring an outstanding performance by Demi Moore, promises to leave a lasting impression.’

The Substance stars Moore, Margaret Qualley and Dennis Quaid in a blood-splattered and satirical body horror that follows Moore as a fading celebrity who turns to a black market drug that temporarily creates a younger, better version of herself. 

Read: Cannes Film Festival: all the winners

Watch the trailer for The Substance:


‘Moore plays the former Hollywood star Elisabeth Sparkle, now relegated to presenting a workout show, though at least it’s a stable job. But ratings are everything, and when sleazy TV exec Harvey (Dennis Quaid) decides that new blood – or fresh meat – is needed, Elisabeth turns to a mysterious medical procedure involving The Substance. Soon there is a young and beautiful version of Elisabeth called Sue (Qualley). All that is needed for both to co-exist is a careful maintenance of the equilibrium – time has to be shared equally: Elisabeth gets one week, then Sue gets one. But when the balance is disrespected, the repercussions are both grave and irreversible. Fargeat made her debut with the memorable 2017 thriller Revenge, and she adeptly ratchets up the tension in this extremely clever and risqué tale of excess and vanity, eliciting squirms and laughs.’

Read: The Demon Disorder: first look at ‘generational curse’ horror film

The screening will complete the official Closing Night Gala and Award Ceremony for the 71st Sydney Film Festival, where a prize pool of $200,000 will be awarded to filmmakers. 

Sydney Film Festival runs from 5-16 June 2024. For more information, head to the SFF website.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports