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.

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Apr 282015


In its 62nd year, the festival has launched a family programme, aimed towards families with children of all ages. The inaugural programme features four feature films and a collection of animated shorts. The films will screen at daytime sessions during the weekend.

I am particularly looking forward to Song of the Sea, Tomme Moore’s follow-up film to the absolutely gorgeous The Secret of Kells.

The SFF 2015 family program includes:

A selection of animated short films chosen for a discerning young audience. Expect lots of clever animals, plenty of laughs and the odd scary moment for good measure! Suitable for children aged 3-8 years.

Director: Maya Newell | Australia | 85mins | In English
Kids raised by same-sex couples are growing in numbers worldwide. This intimate, humorous doco offers a refreshingly frank picture of the Gayby-Boom we seem to be experiencing in the midst of the marriage equality debate. Suitable for children aged 6+ years.

Director: Tomm Moore | Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Denmark | 90mins | In English
Nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars, this magical treat for families, inspired by Celtic legend, is chock-full of glorious hand-drawn imagery, captivating critters and lilting Gaelic music. Suitable for children aged 6+ years.

Director: M. Manikandan| India | 99mins | In Tamil
Dubbed the new Slumdog Millionaire, this is a funny, charming South Indian tale of two mischievous, resourceful brothers from a Chennai slum who become determined to taste pizza for the very first time. Suitable for children aged 8+ years.

Director: Lisa Nicol | Australia | 79mins | In English
This heart-warming doco about childhood, creativity and community chronicles the journey of an outback Australian children’s choir from auditions to their end-of-year concert and all the trials they face along the way. Suitable for children aged 6+ years.

Apr 202015


Presenting the best films and artwork from around the world, the annual Human Rights Arts & Film Festival (HRAFF) will challenge, touch and inspire audiences from all walks of life.

For a fortnight in Melbourne, and three weeks across the country, HRAFF exhibits a selection of contemporary cinema, music and fine art. In its eighth year, HRAFF continues to provide a shared site whereby artists, human rights organisations and the Australian public are united by their desire to contribute to social change.

Opening the festival in Melbourne is the powerful I Will Not be Silenced. Australian Charlotte Campbell Stephen was attacked and raped by a gang of men while living in Kenya in 2006. Spurred on by comments from one of her lawyers that “no one wins rape cases in Kenya”, she decides to take her rapists to court. This was to be the beginning of seven years of struggling through the frustrating labyrinth of Kenya’s legal system. Undaunted, Charlotte ploughs on, becoming involved in advocacy groups and bringing hope to Nairobi’s many rape victims, in a story of justice, indomitable spirit and female solidarity.

Highlights from the programme include:

Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story – Abundance is the success story of the human species, but how much food do we actually waste? Canadian food lovers, Jen and Grant, dumpster-dive head first into the issue of consumption and wastage, by surviving solely on food waste for six months.

Ivory Tower – In 2014, student debt in America trickled into over 1 trillion dollars. This terrifying figure is the basis of esteemed documentarian Andrew Rossi’s (Page One: Inside the New York Times) latest investigatory project, Ivory Tower. Stimulating and shocking, this worldwide trend of skyrocketing tuition is an urgent issue that ultimately begs the question, is it worth the cost?

Pervert Park – An issue often considered too difficult to address, Pervert Park carefully explores the daily life of residents at Florida Justice Transitions, a halfway home to 120 registered sexual offenders. This bold, innovative and important documentary neither demonises nor sympathises with its subjects, but rather provides a deeper context and contemplation of an issue too often ignored.

A Quiet Inquisition – Nicaragua is one of five countries where it is illegal to terminate a pregnancy, even in instances of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life. Leading OBGYN, Dr. Carla Cerrato, is constantly faced with this dilemma, as she risks persecution daily by honouring her medical and moral obligations. This compelling documentary expertly handles a highly contested issue with a humanistic and brave perspective.

HRAFF 2015 will be held in Melbourne from 7 – 21 of May before heading around the country on tour. To view the full programmee and book tickets, head over to the festival website. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Apr 162015


Australian film Ruben Guthrie will have its world première as the opening night film of the 62nd Sydney Film Festival on June 3rd. The film is the directorial début of award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor Brendan Cowell, who adapted it from his own critically acclaimed theatre production. The film, produced by Kath Shelper, was shot on location all over Sydney. The cast includes: Patrick Brammall, Alex Dimitriades, Abbey Lee, Harriet Dyer, Jeremy Sims, Brenton Thwaites, Aaron Bertram, Robyn Nevin and Jack Thompson.

The synopsis of the film is as follows:

Life is good for ad man Ruben Guthrie – he leads a party boy lifestyle, has a model fiancée and lives in a house on the water. He’s at the top of his game, until some drunken skylarking lands Ruben at the bottom of his infinity pool, lucky to be alive. His mum hits the panic button, and then his fiancée leaves him, but not before issuing him one final challenge: If Ruben can do one year without a drink, she’ll give him another chance…
Ruben Guthrie is the story of one man not only battling the bottle, but the city that won’t let him put it down.

Tickets will go on sale for the film and opening night party at 9am Thursday 16 April via

The full festival line-up will be announced next month.

Apr 062015


The Spanish Film Festival returns to Australian screens during April and May, with a selection of 38 Spanish language films.

The festival opens with Spanish blockbuster Spanish Affair, a comedic tale mischievously pokes fun at cultural differences as it tracks a young southerner who tenaciously seeks to win the heart of a Basque girl. The festival will close with Damián Szifrón’s Oscar-nominated Wild Tales, a revenge film composed of six rebellious vignettes, which include a deadly case of road rage and a wedding gone very wrong.

Some of the highlights from the programme include:

Marshland – the period police drama was the recipient of 10 Goya Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor. Set in 1980 in the repressed southern marshland town of Villafranco del Guadalquivir, an eerie place where everyone holds their cards close to their chest.

The Unexpected Life – some of Spain’s finest actors Javier Cámara (Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed, Talk To Her) and Raul Arévalo (Family United, Ghost Graduation) take to the bustling streets of Manhattan as they learn what it means to live and love as a Spaniard in New York City.

They Are All Dead Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) plays Lupe, an agoraphobic Spanish/Mexican former poprocker who is trapped by memories of her youth, and especially by the death of her brother Diego. She’s also having problems connecting with her son. When her mother (Angélica Aragón) discovers she is dying, she is determined to set things to right and On the Day of the Dead, she asks for her departed son Diego’s help…and he responds.
What: The 2015 Spanish Film Festival
When: April-May
Where: Palace cinemas in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane & Adelaide
Tickets & full programme:

Feb 142015


The Alliance Française French Film Festival is back for its 26th season, this time with 49 fantastic features, which will take place across 8 cities at Palace Cinema venues from early March until mid-April.

Launching the Festival will be Gemma Bovery, a beguiling romantic comedy-drama from renowned director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel), which had its world première at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Based on the popular graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, it is an endearing film about the dangers of stirring passions.

The Festival ill close with a modern French classic, Paris, Je T’aime that will take audiences through the arrondissements of Paris, with 20 superb short films inspired by the subject of love, from acclaimed directors such as Olivier Assayas, Bruno Podalydès, Gus Van Sant and Ethan and Joel Cohen.

Highlights from the programme include:

Breathe (Dir. Mélanie Laurent)
Cast: Lou de Laâge, Joséphine Japy, Isabelle Carré & Claire Keim
Acclaimed actress Mélanie Laurent takes the director’s chair for this emotionally seductive and hugely affecting drama about an adolescent friendship perched on the brink of obsession. When Charlie, an attractive but self-doubting 17-year-old girl meets the charismatic, forthright and unruly Sarah, they immediately form an intense and exhilarating bond. Sarah offers both companionship and much-needed support for Charlie whilst her unstable mother copes badly with impending divorce. But their inseparable, idyllic existence soon steers into dangerous territory.

Girlhood (Dir. Céline Sciamma)
Cast: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh & Marietou Touré
A story of female empowerment set in the tough neighbourhoods of Paris. Marieme is a shy 16-year-old who lives with her frequently absent mother, a domineering older brother, and two younger sisters who mostly fall to her responsibility. Left behind at high school where she’s told her grades are too poor to continue, Mariame is soon lured out of her shell by three vivacious neighborhood teens. She quickly adopts their flashier look and adapts to their bold, often reckless behavior, making both foolish and brave choices as she struggles towards independence.

The New Girlfriend (Dir. François Ozon)
Cast: Romain Duris, Anaïs Demoustier, Raphaël Personnaz, Isild Le Besco, & Aurore Clément
Effortlessly fusing the best of Hitchcock and Almodóvar, this superb psychological drama owes its origins to a Ruth Rendell short story. Claire is grieving the loss of her very best friend, who has left behind a husband, David, and a newborn baby. But during an unannounced visit, she is shocked to discover David nuzzling his infant whilst wearing his dead wife’s clothes. Unfazed, David explains that his former wife was aware of this particular idiosyncrasy and over time, Claire overcomes her initial reaction and helps David to create his own female persona to inhabit.
These are the films I am keen to see from the line-up: Before the Winter Chill, Breathe, Eden (which I saw at TIFF and really want to see again), Girlhood (one of the best films of 2014), The New Girlfriend, Ella L’Adore, Love at First Fight, Once Upon a Forrest, Samba, The Gate and Tokyo Fiancée.
For the full programme and information about dates,venues and tickets, head to the official festival website:

You can also find the festival on Twitter @AFFFF2015

Nov 072014


The Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (BAPFF) is a 16-day international event screening more than 80 films from across the region. The new and exciting program includes multi-award winning features and documentaries, highlights from the festival circuit and a curated showcase of the best films from the Asia Pacific.

Opening the festival will be the Australian premiere of The Crow’s Egg, direct from the Toronto International Film Festival. It is a charming and authentic portrayal of contemporary Indian life through the eyes of two young brothers. Closing the festival will be Coming Home, the latest film from the Chinese Fifth Generation auteur Zhang Yimou. With virtuoso performances from the country’s leading actors Gong Li and Chen Daoming, Coming Home quietly addresses the aftermath of Cultural Revolution yet ultimately celebrates human bonding and enduring love.

Highlights from the programme (there are many!) and recommendations after the jump.

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