Program 2019

Festival Program 2019 - EmBrace Yourself!


This year’s program shines a light on extraordinary Antipodean film talents as well as the essential and captivating, yet often marginalised stories they tell, with a handful of humour and a pinch of quirkiness mixed into the blend. Under the motto “EmBrace Yourself”, this year’s films tackle the universal themes that are most crucial to understanding the human connection: mental illness, love and friendship, loss and grief, responsibility and those good old family ties. Our motto addresses how important it is to “embrace yourself” for who you are – to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, even if the rest of the world wants you to “act normal” and “brace yourself”.


For the first time in Down Under Berlin’s history, the opening night film will be a New Zealand feature – independent drama Stray by award winning writer and director Dustin Feneley. With its stunning cinematography and sparse dialogue, Dustin Feneley’s feature film debut is a modern classic, holding the record for the highest amount ever raised through crowdfunding for a New Zealand film. 

“Astonishing lead performances… Some of the best cinematography New Zealand has ever seen… A minimalist tour-de-force” – Stuff

Featuring the talents of Kieran Charnock (The RehearsalCleaver ) and Kosovar actress Arta Dobroshi (Lorna’s Silence) Stray has won several prestigious awards including the Australian Directors Guild Award 2019 for Best Direction and the Silver Saint George Award 2018 for Best Actor at the 2018 Moscow International Film Festival.


Closing night film will be Richard Lowenstein’s Mystify: Michael Hutchence - an absolute must-see doco about the talented and charismatic INXS frontman.  Lowenstein – director of  numerous INXS music videos and cult classic He Died With a Felafel in His Hand – gives an intimate glimpse into the turbulent life and the untimely passing of the INXS frontman.

“What lifts it above the majority of documentaries about celebrities and artists is its extraordinary intimacy.” – Screen International

With rare archival footage made by Hutchence himself and recent interviews with former girlfriends Kylie Minogue and Helena Christensen as well as family, friends and fellow musicians, the film is a powerful tribute to a complex and shy man who spent the bulk of his life in the public eye, rarely revealing his true self to anyone except his very close friends.


Leading an array of poignant documentaries is Gabrielle Brady’s highly acclaimed Island of the Hungry Ghosts was made with the support of Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, BFI’s Film Fund and Screen Territory.

“”The metaphor of dwelling in a place but not being of the place seeps into the quiet crawl of this film (…) The deliberative pace and queasy mood of this film is compassionate and unforgettable, simply one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.” – Entertainment Weekly

Among other accolades, the film received the Best Documentary Feature Award at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for the German Documentary Award 2019. 


Made over eight years, Martin Thomas’s and Béatrice Bijon’s documentary Etched in Bone gives extraordinary inside into the deep and enduring conflict between scientific and traditional forms of knowledge.

“Etched in Bone brings the remarkable insight and sensitivity of Thomas, a multi-award-winning historian and writer – now film-maker – to the profound cultural impact on one Indigenous community touched by the 1948 American-Australian scientific expedition to Arnhem Land.” – The Guardian

Focussing upon a ceremony created by an Aboriginal elder from Arnhem Land in northern Australia, the film brings lived Indigenous culture to the screen, while tackling essential political questions about repatriation and social responsibility.

Once again Down Under Berlin presents a vast and carefully curated short film program, featuring four Australian and two New Zealand short film slots that represent all that makes up this year's motto "EmBrace Yourself": 2018’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner – Charles Williams’ deeply personal All These Creaturesand Jaina Kalifa's moving short doco Happy Android both depict the struggle with and repercussions of mental illness.

“‘All These Creatures is cinema at the height of its powers. It’s the type of film that stays with you for months or years, and perhaps becomes a life-changing experience altogether.” – Pendance Film

Lucy Knox's An Act of Love and Alison James’s Judas Collar highlight the distinction between finding and sacrificing oneself; and Adrian Chiarella's Black Lips and Madeleine Gottlieb's I F***ed a Mermaid and No One Believes Me shows what makes Australian and New Zealand cinema so lovable and unique – its stunnning cinematography and quirky humour. Audiences can expect a huge number of German or European premieres as well as the attendance of various film team members.


With its straightforward shooting style that focuses on details and performance above all else, Book Week is a clever, honest and sometimes rakish comedy that takes place in the most common of suburban settings.

“Alan Dukes and Susan Prior are hilarious and heartbreaking… An intelligent piece of Australian comedy” – Cinema Australia

Featuring talents such as Alan Dukes, Airlie Dodds and Susan Prior the comedy about a cantankerous English teacher and disgraced author this award-winning comedy is not to be missed.


Filmmakers Caitlin Farrugia and Michael Jones like to create replicas of real life, always crafting stories from their experiences or borrowed experiences.

“Loving and warm, Maybe Tomorrow is a charming portrait of new parenthood and the complexities of film production.”– Film Ink

Their feature Maybe Tomorrow that expresses exactly what so many independent filmmakers and struggling artists feel is a modern and nuanced film that successfully balances between comedy and drama.


Program Schedule 2019

Please note that the closing night reception on Sunday, 29 Sep, will take place at 6:30pm BEFORE the screening of Mystify: Michael Hutchence.
The info in the printed program brochures is outdated.

september, 2019

Festival Year




Premiere Status

Film Tags

Tickets, Venue & Accreditations

or at
Moviemento Kino, Kottbusser Damm 22, 10967 Berlin
Kino Central, Rosenthaler Str. 39, 10178 Berlin
Kino Toni, Antonplatz 1, 13086 Berlin

Reserve tickets: +49 (0)30 6924 785

Regular Price: 9 EUR
Reduced Price: 8 EUR
5-Ticket-Pass: 35 EUR (only at Moviemento)

* No other discounts available.
* Reserved tickets must be collected at least 30 minutes before the screening.
* Due to the limited amount of seats in the screening rooms a reservation is highly recommended.

Moviemento Kino, Kottbusser Damm 22, 10967 Berlin
U8 Schönleinstraße or U7/U8 Hermannplatz
Bus M41 or M29 to Hermannplatz

Journalists who wish to report on the festival, film professionals and organizers of other festivals may apply for an accreditation. Please contact