Jun 262016


After looking forward to it for so long, it’s hard to believe that another Sydney Film Festival is done and dusted. The quality of films was exceedingly high this year, and we had a wonderful time at the festival. Thanks and congratulations to the entire festival team and all of the volunteers.

The Sydney Film Prize (the prize given to the winner of the Official Competition) was this year awarded to Kleber Mondonca Filho’s Aquarius, which also happened to be our favourite film from the festival. The Audience Award (Feature) was awarded to Deniz Gamze Ergüven’ s Mustang; while the Audience Award (Documentary) went to Australian documentary Zach’s Ceremony, directed by Aaron Petersen. 

After the jump we have picked out favourite films, performances, music, cinematography, and other achievements, from the films we saw at the festival. For context, Sam saw 40 films and Andy saw 49 – about 1/5 of what was playing. These selections are purely based on what we saw, and we have no doubt we missed some gems – please let us know what they are! We highly recommend you seek out any of the films mentioned in our “awards” after the jump.

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Jun 252016


The final days of the festival – and when you’re 30+ films in you just want it to be over – brought a mixed bag of films. And more weird and wonderful sensory pleasures. I also slept through my first one on day 11 – Viva, meaning I didn’t catch all 12 of the Official Competition. Read on for thoughts on Fire at Sea, The Red Turtle, Personal Shopper, Notes on Blindness, Under the Shadow, The Handmaiden, Psycho Raman and Gimme Danger.

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Jun 172016


Set in 1960s rural New Zealand, Mahana (adapted by John Collee from the novel ‘Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies‘ by Witi Ihimaera) tells the story of a Māori family who are ruled over by their iron-fisted patriarch, Tamihana Mahana. Tamihana’s word is law, and he expects a lot from his family, particularly from his young grandson Simeon, who has of late begun to question his grandfather and other aspects of his life.

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Jun 162016


Athina Rachel Tshangari’s Chevalier is effectively a movie-length pissing contest, with a painfully accurate representation of the fragile egos of men. Six men on a fishing holiday aboard a luxurious yacht invent a game to pass the time. The game formalises what the men have been doing the entire trip, and likely their entire lives, which is competing with each other – seeking validation of their manhood.

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Jun 152016


Here are my thoughts on seven of the eight films I watched over the first weekend of the Sydney Film Festival, save for It’s Only the End of the World – reviewed in further detail hereRead on for thoughts on Official Competition entries Aquarius, Goldstone and Land of Mine as well as Weiner, Contemporary Color, Mahana and Wild. There is only one of these films I wasn’t impressed with, and so the high quality continues.

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Jun 152016


Xavier Dolan, the 27-year old French-Canadian filmmaker with prodigious talent and a handful of brilliant films under his belt (including the 2014 Jury Prize winner, Mommy), returned to Cannes this year with the understandably anticipated It’s Only the End of the World. Despite being met with boos and largely negative reviews, it was surprisingly awarded the prestigious Grand Prix prize. While it is a flawed film, it certainly doesn’t deserve that vitriolic reception. There is still a lot to like about this emotionally intense – and often excruciatingly shrill – but stylistically restrained family drama, adapted by Dolan from an eponymous play by Jean-Luc Lagarce.

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Jun 142016


In May of 2011 seven term Congressman Anthony Weiner sent a sexually explicit photo on Twitter to a woman he was following on the service. After dodging and denying, he finally admitted that he had sent the photo, and in mid-June 2011 he resigned from public office. This film should have documented his triumphant return to politics, but instead a completely different story was told.

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Jun 132016


Read beyond for my thought on films I have seen on Days 1-3 of this year’s Sydney Film Festival – Born to Be Blue, Being 17, Certain Women, Elvis & Nixon, Julieta, Tickled and The Lure. Let’s just say it has been a fantastic start.

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