SWIFF Picks – What’s on Giordan Pakes’ 6 Pass

SWIFF Ticketing Coordinator Giordan Pakes' Top Films

The SWIFF’21 line-up is out! The team have put together some of their fave top films of the fest to help you navigate the program when you’re stuck for choice, and when one pass simply won’t do!

Here are SWIFF Ticketing Coordinator and JMT Front of House Manager Giordan Pakes’ top 6 picks of the fest to fill up your first pass. 


Okay, I’m going to start off with one of the most “horror” style films in the festival for sure. But don’t let the word “horror” scare you off from a genuinely good film! Brandon Cronenberg has proven himself to be a fresh new voice in the world of sci fi and horror, with obvious homage paid to his dear old dad, while also forging his own style and voice in filmmaking. 

The idea of taking over someone’s mind or taking control of their body is not new, but Possessor elevates it with an intrinsic attention to detail, gorgeous cinematography, and incredible performances from its leads. Possessor is heralding a new age of sci-fi, and I am here for it. 



You’re going to be seeing Saint Maud in a lot of the staff picks this year, simply because it deserves to be seen.  There is a new movement in horror that has been brewing for the last few years, being coined as ‘elevated horror’, including films like Midsommar, Hereditary & The VVitch. To see a debut feature smash onto the scene from female filmmaker Rose Glass is such a breath of fresh air. Saint Maud demands attention, and might be the strongest argument for audiences to take horror seriously as a genre we’ve had in years. Saint Maud is haunting, psychological, mysterious, and surreal. It will leave you guessing until the very end, and might even have you googling film theories during that post film bathroom visit. 



If I had to describe Faith in one word, “ethereal” is the word I’d go for. This year, we’ve got some incredible documentaries in the SWIFF’21 line-up, but Faith is one of the most interesting, dreamlike, and surreal documentaries you’ll see this year. Italian documentarian Valentina Pedicini employs a purely observational, fly-on-the-wall style as she follows the shadowy sect of ultra-fit, ultra-pious Catholic- Shaolin monks, living deep in the Italian countryside in an old mansion-turned-monastery, enduring rigorous training sessions and intimate dead-of-night prayer circles, while also crafting a sense of stepping into an otherworldly realm of cinema thanks to cinematographer Bastian Esser. The time you spend with the Warriors of Light will not be forgotten quickly.   

Vale Valentina Pedicini.



For a story about a thirty-something woman trying to get her proverbial shit together while nannying a precocious six year old, I was pleasantly surprised by the lovable Saint Frances. I have what might be considered an irrational hatred for little girls in movies, which is due to tone-deaf and age-inappropriate character writing rather than the fault of the little girls themselves, but it’s hard not to fall in love with the rambunctious Frances, which is a testament to writer/star Kelly O’Sullivan’s tight, realistic, and dry-witted script. Saint Frances is sweet, refreshing, hilarious and heartfelt, crafting a cool, comedic story while simultaneously dealing with some ugly facets of womanhood: periods, abortion, post-partum-depression, body shaming, and treating them as normal, human occurrences. If you’re a big softy like me, bring tissues.



Bacurau is so much fun! A unique genre blend of action, science fiction, thriller, and just a little comedic sprinkle, It’s the most fun I’ve had watching a film in a good while. Although it starts out focusing on a young woman returning home to Bacurau, the film subtly broadens it’s scope to encompass the entire village of Bacurau at the central character, and you find yourself falling in love with the sleepy, hazy township the more time you spend with it and it’s people. 

Things get a little sinister when you learn that Bacurau has been cut off from the outside, and things get outright balls to the wall insane when a group of foreign tourists start hunting the townspeople, triggering the villagers to mount a mighty defense to protect themselves from the onslaught with a passion drawn from Brazil’s Portuguese-colonialist history. 



The first time I saw Aliens, I was about seven years old, peeking through the hallway door when I should have been in bed as my mum watched it in the living room, and it triggered a fascination for all things extra-terrestrial in me (and a lot of nightmares about a UFO landing in my backyard to abduct me. Nice try, Xenomorphs). I’ve never gotten to see Aliens on the big screen, and I’m beyond excited to experience this punchy, grimy, forever quotable and frankly significant event in cinematic history surrounded by die-hard sci fi nerds. Make sure to RSVP to the Sci-Fi Trivia taking place at Element Bar before the screening! 

What more do I need to say?! C’mon, It’s Aliens! I’ll see you there. 


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