Jun 262016
 

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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 172016
 

Mahana

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
 

Chevalier

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
 

ItsOnlytheEndoftheWorld

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
 

Weiner

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 122016
 

Sonita2

When we join Afghani teenager Sonita Alizadeh, she has spent the last 10 years of her life as an undocumented refugee Iran. She’s working part-time at a Refugee Centre in Tehran, the same place where she receives her schooling. While she may find herself in a dire situation, economically, politically, and socially, she still has dreams – dreams of music and making it big.

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Jun 122016
 

InJacksonHeights4

In Jackson Heights is the 42nd film from 85 year-old veteran American documentarian, Frederick Wiseman. Filmed over 9 weeks in 2014, the film paints a portrait of a vibrant, diverse community in flux. Gentrification is lapping at the doors of the largely immigrant neighbourhood, and big business is squeezing out the small.

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Jun 112016
 

Tickled

When New Zealand journalist David Farrier came across a Facebook page advertising “competitive endurance tickling”, he thought he’d stumbled across an amusing story, so he reached out to the company behind it (Jane O’Brien Media) for an interview. Little did Farrier know, this was the beginning of an exceedingly bizarre journey.

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