SWIFF Picks – What’s on Dave Horsley’s Film Pass

My Film Pass Picks - Dave Horsley

“As a punter, I love how disarming film festivals are, taking you outside of your comfort zone, immersing in something unknown.  

“Take a dive into the deep end and surprise yourself this Summer. Here are my Top 12 picks” – – Dave Horsley, Festival Co-Director

Midnight Family

This doco was my #1 pick from MIFF this year. Equal parts heartbreaking and life-affirming, Midnight Family has everything I love in a documentary – a great story, told well, in the right place at the right time. Photographed beautifully with great respect for its subjects. Don’t miss it. Really.

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Much more than a heart-warming comedy/dramas, The Peanut Butter Falcon delivers some powerful messages about ableism in the modern age, propelled by powerful performances by Shia LaBeouf and Zach Gottsagen. Watch the award nominations come in for this one.

Monks of the Sacred Valley

Observational. Controversial. Ryan Jasper Walsh’s film took me into the Himalayas and into the lives of three Tibetan Monks.  Ryan is a local Bellingen filmmaker exhibiting his directorial debut as a World Premiere at SWIFF. Will be a busy session – book early.

Nextwave Youth Film Awards

Around 400 people packed out C.ex Coffs last year to watch original short films produced by local and regional young filmmakers. An amazing, positive atmosphere and creativity is second to none. It’s intense and anxious and alive. It’s turning into Coffs Harbour’s own Tropfest.


Potentially the best Australian film this year. Rodd Rathjen’s film is picking up a new award every week. It’s Australia’s entry into the Oscars this year. Absolutely another “don’t miss”. Very excited to have Rodd Rathjen join us for Q&A as well.

SWIFF Live: Alon Ilsar

When I saw Alon Ilsar perform at ReMIX in Sydney this year, he reminded me what I love about art – working in the unknown. Alon seemingly pulls shapes, colours and textures out of thin air. Experimental, and adrenaline-pumping – this one’s a real festival experience.


A testament to the power of storytelling in a cinema, I’m over the moon to have Partho Sen-Gupta and Rachael Blake joining us in Bello and the Jetty with Slam this year. Powerful performances back up a timely story that nails modern Australia. 


Honeyland was the film of Sundance, taking out three major gongs. Poignant, nuanced, and heartfelt, Honeyland will stay with you for days. Eye-popping cinematography made to be seen in a cinema. As Scorsese would say, not a “theme park” film.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

I try to check out as many films as I can before the festival. Kate selected this one. She RAVED about it for days. Then the awards started flowing in: Best Screenplay at Cannes, Audience Award at MIFF. Then it started topping “Best 2019 Films” lists everywhere. I’ll see you in the cinema!

Pain and Glory

Antonio Banderas earned Best Actor at Cannes for this performance, following up on his collaboration with Almodovar on The Skin I Live In. Watching him perform in his native tongue is like watching a whole new side to his performance. Phenomenal.


There are some films you just have to see on the big screen – like Baraka or Powaqqatsi. Real immersive eye-poppers. Add Aquarela, shot in 96 jaw-dropping frames per second, to your list. The small screen just won’t do it justice. See it in CinemaScope and drink it in.

SWIFF Live: Surfing the Arctic

Live soundtracks play with the conventions of modern cinema. So excited for SWIFF to have the world premiere screening of this cut – with the soundtrack completely removed and replaced by Headland. They’re bringing an accordion. Buckle in – this one goes to 11.

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