Canberra International Film Festival

A woman and man sitting side by side. They are both wearing warm coats and gloves. The woman is pouring a drink from a thermos into a cup and smiling and the man is looking at her while holding a sandwich in one hand.
20-22 October
See session times below
Arc Cinema
$20 / $16 (or Gold Pass for all 6 sessions $75)

The Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF) returns for an immersive three days of film classics and neglected gems from the past.

This year’s CIFF explores the work of two contrasting filmmakers: Mitchell Leisen, the maestro of high-energy 1930s Hollywood comedy, and Australian filmmaker Kathryn Millard, presenting two of her recently remastered documentary classics.


Mitchell Leisen

After designing sets and costumes for Cecil B DeMille and others, Mitchell Leisen emerged in the 1930s as a director for major studios. We have selected three of Leisen’s key films that are also some of the best Depression-era comedies to come from Hollywood. Leisen’s work belies the standard trope that Hollywood ignored the Depression and offered only light diversionary entertainment to its audiences.

In these films, we find Leisen returning repeatedly to stories of spirited and independent women who are driven by job insecurity, fear of homelessness and hunger, determined to make the most of any lucky break to survive. The films depict a daily working life where one has to live by one’s wits. Much of the comedy derives from the extreme gaps between the frivolous and extravagant lifestyle of the ultra-wealthy and the daily concerns of the working class.

We are also including Sullivan’s Travels, a Depression-era classic directed by Preston Sturges, who wrote screenplays for some of Mitchell Leisen’s best work. 


Kathryn Millard

Kathryn Millard has directed both drama and long-form documentaries. Her dramas include Parklands (1996), with Cate Blanchett in her first film, and the feature Travelling Light (2003), both of which screened widely in festivals and won awards. Her documentaries (two of which are included in CIFF) have also been internationally recognised and much awarded.

Social history and resilience, the arts and psychology are recurring topics in Kathryn’s films. She is currently Emeritus Professor of Screen and Creative Arts at Macquarie University. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land in Sydney’s inner west.


Logo for the Canberra International Film Festival







Remember the Night (1940) - 20 October, 7:30pm

Easy Living (1937) - 21 October, 1:30pm

Light Years (1990) - 21 October, 4:15pm

Midnight (1939) - 21 October, 7:30pm

The Boot Cake (2009) - 22 October, 1:30pm

Sullivan's Travels (1941) - 22 October, 4pm



FULL ADULT: $20 + booking fee

ALL CONCESSIONS including Friends of the NFSA: $16 + booking fee

GOLD PASS (all 6 sessions including concessions): $75.00 + booking fee

The Gold Pass is an economical way of gaining admission to any or all films in the festival at a significant saving, averaging only $12.50 per session (plus a single booking fee).

All seating at all sessions is unreserved – no fixed seating.



Bookings are essential for all ticketed events. See our Visit Us page for more venue information. 


Be rewarded for every paid screening, event or exhibition at the NFSA every time you visit. Your seventh visit is free. More details on Club NFSA at our Ticketing page.