The official programmes of the 64th Sydney Film Festival was launched yesterday by Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley.
“The Sydney Film Festival is a collection of perspectives from many of the world’s most interesting storytellers, who reflect our shared desire to understand today’s world – from refugees and gender rights, to attitudes about country and community,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley.
“From the heart of the ancient Pilbara, to the rubble of besieged Aleppo, or messages from the universe delivered 40 years later, filmmakers go to incredible lengths and dedicate many years of their lives to inspire, enlighten and entertain us.”
“A film Festival is the one place where all of these perspectives come together and offer us a temperature reading of the global zeitgeist: of who, what, where and why we are today,” he said.
Sydney Film Festival has gone from strength to strength in recent year, since 2011 attendance has increased by 62% to 178,500 filmgoers. In 2017 the Festival will present 288 films from 59 countries including 37 World Premieres, bringing together hundreds of international and local stories.
The 2017 Festival opens with the world premiere of acclaimed Indigenous director Warwick Thornton’s Official Competition contender We Don’t Need a Map, presented by Distinguished Partner, Lexus Australia. Thornton will be in attendance to present his documentary on Opening Night, which investigates Australia’s relationship to the Southern Cross through colonial and Indigenous history to the present day.
Closing the Festival is celebrated Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Cannes Competition contender Okja, starring Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and An Seo-hyun. Bong will attend the Festival to present his film, which has its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
The Official Competition celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017, marking a decade of awarding the $60,000 cash Sydney Film Prize for audacious, cutting-edge and courageous cinema.
Among the 12 films selected to compete are Warwick Thornton’s We Don’t Need a Map and celebrated Australian theatre director Benedict Andrews’ debut feature Una, starring Emmy-winning actor Ben Mendelsohn.
Also screening in Competition are exciting new works from acclaimed directors Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled), Alain Gomis (Félicité), Michael Haneke (Happy End), Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro), Nana & Simon (My Happy Family), Ildikó Enyedi (On Body and Soul), Aki Kaurismäki (The Other Side of Hope) and Amat Escalante (The Untamed). The Official Competition also features debut features from groundbreaking Afghan woman director Shahrbanoo Sadat (Wolf and Sheep) and Singapore’s Kirsten Tan (Pop Aye).
The winner of the Sydney Film Prize is announced at the Festival’s Closing Night Gala on Sunday 18 June. Previous winners include: Aquarius (2016), Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).
The competition is endorsed by FIAPF, the regulating body for international film festivals, and is judged by a jury of five international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals.
The following films will premiere at the festival: Warwick Thornton (We Don’t Need a Map), Australian Emmy-winning actor Ben Mendelsohn (Una), Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi (On Body and Soul), French director Alain Gomis (Félicité), actorSherwan Haji (The Other Side of Hope), Mexican director Amat Escalante (The Untamed), Afghan female director Shahrbanoo Sadat (Wolf and Sheep), and Haitian American producer Hébert Peck (I Am Not Your Negro).
There will be 46 feature films, including prize-winners of the world’s most prestigious festivals; and 35 international documentaries tackling essential contemporary topics, from some of the world’s most renowned documentarians.
The Festival will screen ten films direct from the Cannes Film Festival. Four films are in the running for the Palme d’Or: Sofia Coppola’s seductive new thriller The Beguiled, starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning; acclaimed Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Okja starring Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and An Seo-hyun; celebrated German director Fatih Akin’s In the Fade starring Diane Kruger; and master Austrian director Michael Haneke’s Happy End starring Isabelle Huppert.
Four films coming from Cannes to the Sydney Film Festival are directorial debuts: Sea Sorrow, from 80-year-old Oscar-winning actor and UK based political activist Vanessa Redgrave; Wind River from US screenwriter Taylor Sheridan – starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen; New Jersey story Patti Cake$ from US director Geremy Jasper – which gives Australian actress Danielle Macdonald a breakthrough role; and Brigsby Bear, a comedy with Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney from US director Dave McCary.
Also screening at the Festival from Cannes is Napalm, the latest documentary, set in North Korea, by renowned French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, now 91, and direct from Cannes Classics, the restored version of Luis Buñuel’s 1967 Belle de Jour.
Two films screening at Cannes are also contenders for the Festival’s Sydney Film Prize: The Beguiled and Happy End.
The Festival will present new features from great cinematic storytellers, from prize-winners of the world’s most prestigious festivals, to exciting new works from ground-breaking filmmakers.
Home-grown Muslim comedy Ali’s Wedding, sophisticated romance Call Me By Your Name, set in the Italian countryside, and haunting micro-budget love story A Ghost Story, made in secret starring Rooney Mara and Oscar-winner Casey Affleck made, are among some of the films to screen in the Special Presentations at the magnificent State Theatre, presented by Princess Cruises.
Other feature highlights, supported by the University of New South Wales Sydney include: Terrence Malick’s love story Song to Song, set in the Texas music capital of Austin and starring Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett; Tropfest winner Alethea Jones’ feature debut Fun Mom Dinner starring Toni Collette and Molly Shannon, Cannes Critics’ Week’s closing comedy Brigsby Bear starring Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney; and the exquisite tale of a transgender woman from Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio, Berlin award-winner A Fantastic Woman.