May 042014


Imagine if distributors didn’t matter, cost was no barrier and all the films were available for you to cherry pick from? Oh, what a beautiful little bubble that would be. I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about what might be in the 2014 Sydney Film Festival line-up (to be announced on Wednesday May 7) – some are easier to pick due to them already having Australian distributors and by looking at previous programmes, but there’s always a few “wow” films and a whole bunch that weren’t even on my radar. If there were no barriers, the following 10 films would be in my Sydney Film Festival line-up.

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Fed Up – dir. Stephanie Soechtig

The dirty side secrets of the American food industry are exposed by Stephanie Soechtig (Tapped) in this film which explains the 30 year campaign to confuse and mislead the American public about what they put in their bodies. Fed Up recently played Sundance and Hot Docs.  Ryan McNeil’s review from Hot Docs can be viewed here and the film’s trailer is available here.

Rich Hill – dir.  Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragos

Winner of the U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at Sundance, Rich Hill chronicles the lives of three young boys living in a small town which has seen far better days in the American Midwest. A moving portrait of the decline of small town America and the lives of those caught up in it. Visit the film’s official website for more information.

The Green Prince dir. – Nadav Schirman

This story is so incredible, it’s  better than anything a spy novel could throw at you. The Green Prince tells the story of a young man who is the son of one of the founding members of Palestinian organisation, Hamas and how he became a spy for the Israelis. The film won the Audience Award: World Cinema: Documentary at Sundance. The Guardian review from Sundance can be viewed here.

Vessel – dir. – Diana Whitten

Winner of the audience award for documentary feature at this year’s SXSW Festival, Vessel  details the actions of Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts, who sails through international waters to provide abortions for women who would otherwise not be able to have them. What a fascinating, emotive subject. Read Indiewire’s review here.


Feature Films

Lost River – dir. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling’s début feature film Lost River premieres at Cannes this month and it already has an Australian distributor (eOne Film) so there is a chance that it might play Sydney Film Festival. The film stars Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn and Matt Smith.

Boyhood – dir. Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s ambitious and innovative project which chronicles the life of a young man from age 5 to 18 was filmed over 12 years with the same cast. Watching someone age on film in this way is sure to be a rather unique experience. I’ve avoided all trailers and material for the film as I want the boy to be a complete surprise to me. The film won the Louis Black “Lone Star” award at SXSW and the Silver Bear (best director) at Berlin. Before Midnightplayed well at the festival last year and Boyhood already has a distributor (Universal), so there’s a reasonably good chance this will play at the festival.

Enemy – dir. Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve’s Hitchcockian thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal is set to go straight to DVD in Australia (via Madman Films), but I’m holding out hope that I might get one chance to see this on the big screen. I’ve been looking forward to this immensely since I saw Prisoners and overseas reviews have been very strong. I don’t like my chances with this pick, but you never know!

Still in the Water – Naomi Kawase

Kawase’s film is playing in competition at Cannes and does not have an Australian distributor to my knowledge so I think it’s unlikely it will play at the festival. If it did, I would be delighted. The small plot synopsis and setting of the film has really hooked me – “set on the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima and centers on a young couple trying to solve a mysterious death”.

Goodbye to Language 3D – Jean-Luc Godard

At the age of 83, famed New Wave director Jean-Luc Goddard has made a 3D film, which is in official competition at Cannes. I don’t know about you, but I am so intrigued to see what he makes of 3D. I think this is a long shot, but it is very much a festival film type of movie.

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Winner of the U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award: U. S. Dramatic at Sundance, Whiplash was born from a short film of the same name which played at the festival in 2013. The film stars Miles Teller as an up-and-coming young drummer at a highly competitive Manhattan music conservatory and J.K. Simmons as his unforgiving teacher. Read Indiewire’s review here.

 Posted by at 10:28