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Your Guide to Canberra’s Best Film Festivals

The foyer at the Dendy Cinemas at the Canberra Centre

Canberra is more than just Australia’s capital; it’s also home to a thriving cultural scene. So, just because you’ve found yourself in Australia’s political centre, it doesn’t mean you’ll be starved of film content. You can help relieve homesickness by attending a film from your homeland, or you can dive into the diverse range of films from Australia. Plus, you may just find some new friends to discuss movies with when you’re not deep in study mode.

Grab your popcorn and discover a selection of what’s on offer in Canberra.

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is a massive government-run organisation focusing on Australia’s film, television and music industries. The NFSA is centrally located amid the Australian National University (ANU) precinct. As well as a daily program of Australian and international cinema spanning over 100 years, the NFSA hosts specially curated festivals, international director retrospectives and film seasons throughout the year.

Japanese Film Festival

Featuring comedies, drama, historic pieces and breathtaking anime, the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) travels around the country and brings a selection of films to Canberra every year. Directors who have had their films screen at JFF in recent years include Cannes Film Festival favourite Naomi Kawase (Radiance), Lee Sang-il (Rage) and Sunao Katabuchi (In This Corner of the World). Kenji Kamiyama (Ancien and the Magic Tablet), who worked in the animation team for Akira and has written and directed instalments of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, has also had screenings at the festival.

Korean Film Festival in Australia

The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) is run by the Korean Cultural Centre of Australia, which runs a year-long calendar of educational programs, music and food events, and cultural exchanges. Canberra hosts a three-day mini-program in September. It’s usually held at the Hoyts Woden cinema complex, which is just a 15-minute drive from ANU’s city campus.

Greek Film Festival

The Greek film industry has surged in the last decade thanks to filmmakers like Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg, Chevalier). At the Greek Film Festival, you’ll get the chance to discover more about the talent emerging out of Greece.

Czech and Slovak Film Festival

Movies from the Czech and Slovak nations of Eastern Europe are showcased over four days at this annual celebration hosted at the NFSA’s Arc Cinema in October. Canberra is the only city outside Melbourne to feature the Czech and Slovak Film Festival (CASFFA) and its selection of challenging – yet incredibly rewarding – films. Since 2013, audiences from Eastern Europe and Australia have come together to delight in the mix of films on offer. CASFFA’s most recent program featured contemporary comedies, dramas and thrillers alongside classics such as The Shop on Main Street, a WWII drama that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1965.

Canberra Short Film Festival

Approaching its 25-year anniversary, the Canberra Short Film Festival (CSFF) is one of Australia’s oldest competitions for short film. It’s run over five days in September at a variety of Canberra theatre venues. This festival covers local and international films, documentaries, animation and even music videos and micro-films (films that are less than two minutes long). The great thing is that submissions are open to anybody, so you don’t just have to sit in the audience – pick up a camera (even the one on your smartphone!) and make your own film. You might just see your work projected on the big screen.

ANU Film Group

Australia’s oldest film society, ANU Film Group, screens over 150 films per year. It plays everything from Hollywood blockbusters like Joker and The Lion King, to international arthouse titles like Pain and Glory and Weathering With You. You’ll also find classics from Australia and around the world. ANU Film Group is run through the Australian National University and is open to anybody who wants to join. It’s also a great opportunity if you want to engage with film over the full year and meet like-minded film-lovers.

Palace International Film Festivals

The Palace Cinema chain continues to expand its selection of cultural film festivals that are held throughout the year at the multiple Palace Cinemas across the country. Showcasing film cultures from some of the most exciting countries for movie-lovers, Adelaide hosts seasons of Palace festivals including the Spanish Film Festival, German Film Festival, Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival, Lavazza Italian Film Festival and the British Film Festival.