SWIFF Staff Picks – Programmer Saige Browne’s top flicks of the festival


Hi there! As programs assistant, I work with our incredible artistic director, Kate Howat, pulling together program strands and other exciting events. Seeing the printed program come to life, after a year full of watching, note-taking and writing about films was pretty special, and I’m thrilled to be sharing such special stories with audiences in the towns I love.

Be warned! If you run into me over the festival, you may not get me to shut up about these, and many other amazing films.

Under the Cover of Cloud

A Tasmanian, fact/fiction blend, starring non-actors, that looks both dreamy and funny. I was sold seconds into the trailer for Under the Cover of Cloud, which is almost a beautiful short film in it’s own right. This film ticks so many boxes for me, including that Kate and Dave have compared it to ‘watching jazz’.
Ted Wilson will be with us to present both sessions of the film at SWIFF, as well as chatting about the Aussie film industry at the SWIFF 2019 Industry Connect.

Inventing Tomorrow

I was so inspired by Inventing Tomorrow, which follows teenagers from Hawaii, Mexico, Indonesia and India who are set to compete in the environmental science category at the Olympics of science fairs. These teenagers are the definition of Superheroes, and they are here to save Planet Earth with their incredible inventions. This film is an uplifting & affirming beacon of hope. (My close second pick from the Pop Docs program, the enthralling Behind the Curve).

Skate Kitchen

One of my eternal favourite sub-genres is Girl-Sport-Films (think Whip It, or Bend It Like Beckham). Young women occupying male-dominated fields, super contrived romantic b-plots that are always second fiddle to female friendship, great action cinematography and killer soundtracks are all the benchmarks I judge these flicks by and Skate Kitchen earns full marks. This is such a relaxed, honest and charming film, and it’s born from the fact that the Skate Kitchen are a real skate crew. I followed them all on Instagram as soon as I got out of the cinema. Bring your friends to this rad skate flick, and make sure you catch the incredible doco Minding the Gap too!


Walking into Shoplifters completely blind is one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had. This film is a masterpiece, and I don’t want to spoil it with any details, just trust me, and go see it! 


I was super intrigued when I saw that, what had initially looked to me like a tour film, a documentary about performer M.I.A had taken out the Documentary Jury Prize at Sundance. I only knew a tiny bit about M.I.A, so this documentary was an eye-opener in many ways. Not only about the Tamil resistance, or growing up as an immigrant in London, or the path to pursuing a career in music, but also significantly about how we treat women in the spotlight, who use that platform to speak passionately, and why my expectation of this film was that it would simply be a tour film. This is well worth a watch, particularly as an introduction to M.I.A’s fierce musical sound.

I Used To Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story

Even if you’re not a boyband fangirl, The insights that this film explores are so universal, and so vital to how we grow up, the communities we form and the way we shape ourselves.
Plus, the film is endlessly charming, and had audiences go from laughing, to crying, to simply beaming at the screen. What a beautiful and powerful experience. Do not miss out on getting to chat with Dara and Jessica after the screening, and do not miss out on this eternally joyous documentary. I haven’t gone a day without thinking about the women in this film.

SWIFF Live: O Brother Where Art Thou? w/ live soundtrack by The Mid North

My favourite Coen-Brothers film! Ever since Kate announced she’d snagged O’ Brother for SWIFF Live this year (with accomp.. accomp.. the fella’s what play the gee-tar, the absolutely barn-bustin’ The Mid North, no less!) I’ve been endlessly quoting the film around the office.
So, get ready for a miiighty a-pickin and a-singin, dress up in your finest (so nobody will think you is a toad), and sell yer everlastin’ soul so you can sing a long real good, because this is going to be a bona-fide night.
And if SWIFF Live only leaves you wantin’ more Old-Timey Americana, be sure and check out Damsel and Blaze at the festival this year too.

Nextwave Youth Film Awards

I had the honour of travelling around Regional NSW earlier this year, meeting creative young people, and helping them get started making their first short film, with the Nextwave competition and prizes offering an incentive to get filming! We received 72 entries into the competition, and the top 20 will screen as part of the Nextwave Youth Film Awards. I’m so excited to be in a role that supports and encourages young people to be creative and tell their stories- come and check them out. Don’t forget all films are $8 for under 25’s this year!

Discover the full program for yourself at swiff.com.au.

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