May 062015


The Sydney Film Festival have released the programme for the 62nd edition of the festival, with 251 films screening from 68 different countries.

The 2015 Festival reflects a strong year for Australian cinema, leading with the World Premieres of Ruben Guthrie, Brendan Cowell’s adaptation of his hit; and Neil Armfield’s Holding the Man, staring Ryan Corr, Anthony LaPaglia, Guy Pearce, and Sarah Snook.

Of the 12 titles in the internationally recognised SFF Official Competition – this year worth $62,000, three are Australian, while three are directed by women. Sherpa – the only documentary in the Official Competition is directed by Australian director Jennifer Peedom. It chronicles the uneasy relationship between Sherpa labourers and foreign mountain climbers on Mount Everest.
Other official competition titles include: Sundance hit, Me Earl and the Dying girl; Tehran Taxi (Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale), the third film made in secret from the great Iranian filmmaker and dissident Jafar Panahi since he was banned from filmmaking; and Victoria, a spectacular one-shot film detailing a Berlin bank robbery and the aftermath created by German director Sebastian Schipper.

Direct from Cannes @ SFF – Japanese director Hirozaku Kore-ada’s Our Little Sister screens in Cannes’ Official Selection. Both Arabian Nights, director Miguel Gomes’ epic follow-up to Tabu, and American indie comedy Dope screen in Directors’ Fortnight. Amy, Asif Kapadia’s (Senna) documentary about Amy Winehouse, will have a midnight screening at Cannes; and Sembene!, a documentary about the great African filmmaker, screens in Cannes Classics.

The festival sections include:
Freak Me Out! – the Festival’s horror, cult, macabre and extreme arthouse film programme.
Sounds on Screen – illuminating stories from around the world about the creators and creation of music.
Focus on South Africa – illuminating stories from around the world about the creators present a snapshot of South Africa’s most vibrant film offerings.
International Documentaries – today’s documentary makers tackle the controversial and traditional with verve, respect and expertise.

Not sure where to start? We offer 10 suggestions after the jump.

Welcome to Leith (Christopher K. Walker, Michael Beach Nichols) – USA – International Documentaries: “Towns don’t get much smaller than Leith, North Dakota: just 24 inhabitants (including kids). Most of the townsfolk have been there for a while; to say that everyone knows their neighbours is an understatement. When Craig Cobb, a reclusive sort of guy, moves onto a vacant lot, no one’s fussed. However, Cobb is a notorious white supremacist, and his master plan is to buy more lots (land is cheap in Leith), to sell to others of like minds. It won’t take many votes to oust the sheriff and create a white supremacists’ haven on the prairie.”

Turbo Kid (Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell) – Canada/New Zealand – Freak Me Out: “This action-thriller-comedy-splatter-romance won the Audience Award in the prestigious Midnighters section at SXSW. A perfectly formed throwback to straight-to-video exploitation films of the 1980s, Turbo Kid takes place (naturally) in a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by scavengers, ruffians and marauding gangs decked out in the finest Mad Max-esque garb. There are no motor vehicles in this barren land; transport is strictly by BMX. Our hero is The Kid, a loveable young loner obsessed with a superhero comic printed long before the acid rain came.”

The Summer of Sangaile (Alanté Kavaïté) – France/Lithuania – Features: “Winner of the directing award at Sundance, The Summer of Sangaile is an intoxicating, sensual tale of young love over the course of an eventful summer. 17-year-old Sangaile is fascinated by stunt planes, but is also afraid of heights, preventing her from ever pursuing her dreams of flight. At an aeronautical show she meets Auste, a local girl of her age, who unlike Sangaile, lives her life to the full. The two girls become lovers and as their bond deepens, Sangaile allows Auste to discover her most intimate secrets.”

The Pearl Button (Patricio Guzmán) – Chile/France/Spain – International Documentaries: “A bead of water trapped within a crystal, the shift of light on the waves; the images in Patricio Guzmán’s The Pearl Button are of the kind that linger long in your memory. In keeping with the themes of his award-winning Nostalgia for the Light, this essay film blends exquisite visions with a haunting narrative (winning a Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the Berlinale).”

The Hunting Ground (Kirby Dick) – USA – International Documentaries: “Following his Academy Award-nominated exposé of sexual abuse in the army (The Invisible War), director Kirby Dick tackles the tough issue of rape on American college campuses. Staggeringly, one in five women on college grounds is sexually assaulted, yet only a handful of cases are reported. Dick and producer Amy Ziering interview female students who were assaulted: their stories are shocking, the establishment’s response astounding.”

Second Coming (Debbie Tucker Green) – UK – Features: “Second Coming is a social-realist drama about an immaculate conception. Jackie (Nadine Marshall) is pregnant and knows it’s not her husband Mark’s (Idris Elba), but she hasn’t slept with anyone else either. Jackie tries to preserve the happy middle-class lifestyle she leads with Mark and their son J.J., but inevitably she has to reveal her pregnancy. At the same time, Jackie, who is not particularly religious, is experiencing strange hallucinations of a rainstorm in her bathroom.”

Results (Andrew Bujalski) – USA – Features: “Results is an eccentric romantic comedy about three damaged individuals with aspirations of a better life. Recently divorced Danny (Kevin Corrigan) has just come into a large sum of money and moves into a large mansion. He decides to get fit and goes to a local gym where he meets fitness guru Trevor (Guy Pearce) and attractive but caustic trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders). What follows is a bizarre love triangle.”

Tehran Taxi (Jafar Panahi) – Iran – Official Competition: “Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, Tehran Taxi is the third film made secretly by Jafar Panahi since a ban on filmmaking was imposed on him in Iran. A taxi drives through the city streets and various passengers enter, each expressing their views on a range of matters relating to Iran today. The driver is Jafar Panahi himself, and he has a camera attached to the dashboard. Some of the passengers know who he is, but most don’t.”

Only the Dead (Bill Guttentag, Michael Ware) – Australia – Documentary Australia Foundation Award: “In 2003, Australian journalist Michael Ware found himself in Baghdad following the invasion of Iraq, reporting for US media outlets. As the façade of success in Iraq was falling apart, the first suicide bombings in the city took place. Ware was on the trail of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a brutal Al Qaeda leader, with plans to set the country at odds. When Zarqawi decided to go public, Ware received a tape… and so began a journey that shocked the world and tested the war reporter to his very limits.”

Dope (Rick Famuyiwa) – USA – Special Presentations at the State: “Fresh, exuberant and brilliantly paced, Dope is a smart comedy about a group of geeks who, through a series of missteps, end up with a stash of drugs that they have to sell in order to survive. Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) are the outcasts of their school in a tough, gang-ridden neighbourhood. Constantly on the run from bullies at school and the drug dealers in their hood, the friends bond over their obsession with ’90s hip-hop culture and their punk band.”
The full programme & tickets can be found at