April 1, 2015
Drawing on films sourced from around Australia and abroad, from renowned film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and the Berlinale, the 2015 Sydney Film Festival will, in its final form, boast about 200 movies from more than 50 countries on its program, alongside a public program of free and ticketed exhibitions, talks, panels, parties and live-music events, not to mention a series of premieres, red-carpet openings, international guests and more.
To give us an idea of how the program is shaping up, organisers today revealed 16 of this year’s titles that will be screening at the festival. Impressively, they’ve snagged several high-profile pictures such as Love & Mercy — a biopic about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, starring John Cusack and Paul Dano — as well as Slow West, starring Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn and Rory McCann (Game Of Thrones), Strangerland, with Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Joseph Fiennes and model-turned-actor Maddison Brown, and Mr Holmes, featuring Ian McKellen and Laura Linney.
It’s not only big-name cinema that gets the focus at SFF, though; also announced today are documentary Beats Of The Antonov, a tale of how music and culture survives civil war; surrealist pitch-black comedy A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence, from Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson; German drama Phoenix; psychological drama Sunrise; comedic biopic Eisenstein In Guanajuato; “70s Euro porn” flick The Duke Of Burgundy, set in a world with no men; the sex and comedy of Kabukicho Love Hotel; touching gender-exploration documentary My Love Don’t Cross That River; and the debauchery and vapidity of Johannesburg’s young and wealthy in Necktie Youth.
There’s plenty on offer for political-film buffs, too, with feature and documentary presentations tapping into a sense of social justice including 99 Homes, The Look Of Silence, How To Change The World, The Hunting Ground, Best Of Enemies, Dreamcatcher, Going Clear: Scientology & The Prison Of Belief and Villa Touma, with the (kind of niche) field of urban planning documentaries seeing two entries this year: Bikes Vs Cars and The Chinese Mayor.
There is also throwback appeal in this year’s line-up of films, which features the director’s cut of 1998 box-office and critical bomb 54, with half an hour of footage reinserted to better convey the creators’ intentions, which had been “straightened”, if you will, for cinema-audience sensibilities upon its release. In addition, there will be screenings of Ingmar Bergman‘s top 10 most essential films, as selected by David Stratton.
Today’s announcement also includes the news that Dendy Newtown will be a new venue for this year’s Freak Me Out contingent, which features more than 20 sessions of FMO, music and animation goodness, with the first confirmed film for that part of the program being vividly violent NZ flick Deathgasm, in which your worst Satanic heavy-metal nightmares come to life.
This year’s Sydney Film Festival will be held from Wednesday, 3 June, to Sunday, 14 June, at the State Theatre, Dendy Opera Quays, Art Gallery of NSW, Event Cinemas George STreet, Skyline Drive-In Blacktown, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall and SFFTV at Martin Place.
As always, SFF will hold its Official Competition, as 12 films vie for the $60,000, professionally judged Sydney Film Prize. For more information, see the festival’s website.