May 082014


The 61st Sydney Film Festival programme consists of 183 titles from 47 countries and includes 15 World Premieres (including 6 World Premiere short films), 122 Australian Premieres (including 14 Australian Premiere short films) and 6 International Premieres (including 1 International Premiere short film). The full programme is now live at

The Opening Night Gala features the Australian Premiere of 20,000 Days on Earth, an innovative film about international cultural icon Nick Cave directed by visual artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, who will be in attendance. Cinematographer Erik Wilson (The Imposter, The Double) is the reason I’m excited about this film – his work is fresh and interesting and I can’t wait to see more of his work.

The Closing Night Gala features the Australian Premiere of the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, the new film from Taika Waititi (Boy, which won the Audience Award at SFF 2010) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords). I can’t think of a better way to close the festival than a sold out crowd cackling along to some choice Kiwi comedy. This is going to be a fun night.

SFF Festival Director Nashen Moodley on the festival experience. “SFF not only presents the best films from across the country and around the world, but we also open up dialogue between the creators and audiences and curators and critics alike, in every direction and combination. Together in a crowded theatre, comedies are funnier, horror films are scarier and tender moments bring tears more readily; everything we feel is amplified by the power of the shared experience.”

After the jump I delve into the programme in more detail.

Last Year I saw all films in the official competition films and I will do so again this year. The 12 films making up the official competition this year are as follows:
20,000 Days on Earth
Black Coal, Thin Ice (winner of the Golden Bear this year’s Berlin Film Festival)
Fish & Cat (134 minutes long and only one single shot! One shot!!!Wow…)
The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (a lonely Japanese woman determined to find the fortune from the film Fargo!!)
The Rover
Two Days, One Night (direct from the official competition at Cannes)

From the above films I’m most looking forward to Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, Boyhood, 20,000 Days on Earth and Fish & Cat. There’s a strong Australian presence in the official competition which is encouraging.

Other films I’m excited about from the programme include: new Ghibli film The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Her and Him – both parts screening separately), Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm and Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater .

The festival includes some very special sections which highlight certain directors, genres, cultures and creators. Sections in this year’s festival include: China: Rebels, Ghosts and Romantics, Altman on Altman, Freak Me Out and Salute to Studio Ghibli.

Alongside the festival is the excellent Festival Hub, returning to the town hall in 2014. I had a lot of fun here last year, chatting about films, drinking beer and catching a few moments of r&r between flicks. This year the hub will present a packed program of talks, exhibitions, live performances and over 25 free events. Open until midnight for 11 days only from 5-15 June.

Well, colour me excited.