BIFF scores Australian debut of Taika Waititi’s ‘Next Goal Wins’

'Next Goal Wins'. (Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.)

Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) is set to close with the Australian premiere of Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins, led by Michael Fassbender.

The film, which recently drew mixed reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival, is based on the American Samoa national football team’s journey from one of the weakest football teams in the world to 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. In addition to Fassbender, it stars Kiwis Oscar Kightley, Dave Fane, Beulah Koale and Rachel House, as well as Will Arnett and Elisabeth Moss.

Waititi’s latest adds to the NZ flavour at this year’s BIFF, with the festival opening with Uproar, directed by Hamish Bennett and Paul Middleditch and starring Julian Dennison.

BIFF announced its full program line-up today, including two world premieres, two Australian Premieres, 38 Queensland premieres and 18 short films. There will also be two industry days.

Australian titles announced for the festival today include the world premiere of the Brisbane-produced Combat Wombat: Back 2 Back, which includes the voices of David Wenham, Elizabeth Cullen, Mark Coles Smith, Deborah Mailman and Ed Oxenbould. The sequel is again directed by Ricard Cussó and produced by Like A Photon Creative.

Fresh from Toronto and Telluride is Kitty Green’s The Royal Hotel, which will feature in the special presentation strand, while Goran Stolevski’s Housekeeping for Beginners lands fresh from Venice.

Luke Sparke’s Bring Him To Me, Mark Leonard Winter’s The Rooster, Sean McDonald’s Bromley: Light After Dark, Gillian Moody and Adrian Russell Wills’ Kindred,  and  Jolyon Hoff’s You Should Have Been Here Yesterday will comprise the Australian Highlights program.

BIFF will also celebrate emerging Australian directors via the New Wave strand, programming Madeleine Dyer’s A Savage Christmas; Jack Clark and Jim Weir’s Birdeater, which won the audience award at Sydney Film Festival and Gabriel Curruba’s Sunflower.

Indianna Bell and Josiah Allen’s indie horror You’ll Never Find Me, which debuted in Tribeca, will screen alongside the previously announced Late Night With the Devil in the WTF strand.

As IF has reported, feature documentary The Ending Goes Forever: The Screamfeeder Story, directed by Jacob Schiotz and produced by Joe Wooley, will make up the Music Gala.

International highlights include Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things starring Emma Stone, which just won the Golden Lion in Venice; Todd Haynes’ May December, starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore; Andrew Haigh’s queer romance fantasy All Of Us Strangers ,starring Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott; Wim Wender’s Perfect Days, and Pedro Almodóvar short Strange Way Of Life, starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke.

The line-up also features Savanah Leaf’s Earth Mama, Randall Park’s directorial debut Shortcomings, Marie Amachoukeli’s Ama Gloria, Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero, starring Mia Wasikowska, and Goodbye Julia, from director Mohamed Kordofani.

As previously announced BIFF will also screen Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or-winning Anatomy of a Fall, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Monster, and Amanda Nell Eu’s Tiger Stripes.

“The 2023 BIFF program showcases a diverse array of extraordinary and exciting films from Australia and across the globe,” said BIFF head of programming Sasha Close.

“Bookended by two remarkable, heartwarming films that recently debuted at the Toronto film festival, the full program has something for everyone with delightful comedies, captivating documentaries, and dramatic thrillers, along with a dedicated program day on the first weekend showcasing incredible Brisbane talent and a special selection for the young and young heart

BIFF runs October 26 to November 5 at selected Dendy, Reading and Five Star cinema locations across Brisbane.