2023 Special Events

Shayda (2023) - IMDb

Opening Night Gala

7pm, Thursday 14 September


The Darwin International Film Festival opens with an incredible gala event!

Shayda (Sundance Audience Award, MIFF Opening Night 2023) is the DIFF opening feature with special guest Osamah Sami (Ali's Wedding). Screening prior to the main feature we have the multi award winning short film Dipped in Black / Marungka Tjalatjunu (Berlinale Silver Bear, Sydney Film Festival Documentary Australia Award) with special guests Derik Lynch and Duncan Graham.

Gala tickets include a glass of bubbly on arrival, roving canapes.

Dipped in Black / Marungka Tjalatjunu

A powerful short film by Yankunytjatjara artist Derik Lynch and Australian artist Matthew Thorne that explores (in dream and memory) Derik's childhood growing up in the heart of central Australia and the empowerment of coming back to country.


Partially based on the childhood experiences of Director Noora Niasari. A brave Iranian mother Shayda (Cannes Best Actress winner Zar Amir-Ebrahimi) finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her six-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband (Osamah Sami) re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardised.


Spark Film Showcase

7pm, Friday 22 September


After another argument with her long-suffering dad, 15-year-old Xanthe storms out of the house and stumbles upon a rusted-out old robot in the bush. Balancing humour, drama and heartbreak, Rust proves that making new friends isn’t always easy – even when you have an instruction manual.


It's the end of the world and everyone knows it. Determined to uphold a sense of order, Zara drags her parents to the high school's last concert. But emotions run high, and when nothing goes as planned, Zara is forced to embrace the chaos.

First Drop

Set in Alice Springs, Ted, a reclusive and bitter retiree is tasked with caring for his Pakistani neighbour’s 10-year-old daughter, Saleha. After attempts to limit his engagement with Saleha, Ted’s defences are broken down as he realises the two share a mutual love of cricket. Thus begins the blossoming of an unlikely friendship. 


Two actors meet in a tent to discuss a film they are working on; a younger man playing Hephaestion, and a more mature one playing Alexander the Great. As the thespians dissect their roles Hephaestion argues against the use of 'friendship' as a label to hide genuine romance.


The Girraween Lagoon Story

Screening at the Museum and Art Gallary of the Northern Territory

Girraween Lagoon, 35 kilometres southeast of Darwin, is known as the ‘place of flowers’. It’s a unique site: a waterbody where the seven seasons observed by the Larrakia people manifest clearly on the surface of the lagoon and surrounds, and where evidence of past environments is preserved deep below the water’s surface.
In this immersive media experience, presented in a portable planetarium-style dome, Larrakia Elder Lorraine Williams leads viewers through the Gulumoerrgin seasonal calendar year and 140,000 years of regional environmental history uncovered through recent scientific research.
Duration: 7 minutes
Free admission
Produced by the Deakin Motion Lab for the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH). The Girraween Lagoon story is created in collaboration with the Larrakia and Wulna communities

Closing Night Gala

7pm, Sunday 24 September


DIFF closes with an incredible gala event - the NTE Premiere of The Rooster with special guests Hugo Weaving AO, Mark Leonard Winter and Mahveen Shahraki!

Join us for one last night under the stars as we welcome screen legend Hugo Weaving, director Mark Leonard Winter and Producer MahVeen Shahraki to Deckchair Cinema to present the film and meet the audience at a post film Q&A.

THE ROOSTER is a gripping story about friendship and how hope can come from unlikely places. Anchored by riveting performances from its two leads - rising talent Phoenix Raei (Clickbait, Stateless, The Night Agent), and Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Love Me) - it confronts themes around shame and masculinity with unexpected humour, whilst keeping the audience in suspense.

Written and directed by award-winning actor Mark Leonard Winter, who makes his feature filmmaking debut with THE ROOSTER. Produced by Logie-nominated actor Geraldine Hakewill (Wanted, Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries), and AACTA award-winning producer MahVeen Shahraki (Ellie and Abbie, The Translator) for Thousand Mile Productions, THE ROOSTER follows small-town cop Dan (Phoenix Raei). When the body of his oldest friend is found buried in a shallow grave, Dan seeks answers from a volatile hermit (Hugo Weaving), who was the last person to see his friend alive.

THE ROOSTER also features Rhys Mitchell (Cake, Upper Middle Bogan), John Waters (Offspring, Mystery Road), Robert Menzies (Little Tornadoes, Glitch) Tom Stokes (The Railway Man, Warnie), Jane Montgomery Griffiths (Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries) and Deirdre Rubenstein (Force of Destiny, Superwog). Principal photography took place on Dja Dja Wurrung country in the region of the Hepburn Shire in Victoria, Australia during the winter of 2022. The area is home to director Mark and producer Geraldine, and many locals and local businesses were involved in the production, from locations, to crew, to casting, to on-screen talent.