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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Apr 062016
 

sunsetsong

The 63rd Sydney Film Festival today announced 26 new films to be featured in this year’s 8-19 June event. These films are in addition to the Scorsese retrospective which was already announced.

Highlights from the 26 films announced are:

Demolition (Jean-Marc Vallée) – TIFF 2015 opening night film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a Wall Street financier whose wife dies in a car accident. He’s left to pick up the pieces – or in this case, tear them apart. Also stars Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper.

Sunset Song (Terrance Davies) – An adaptation of the classic Scottish novel of the same name, Sunset Song centers around a Scottish farm worker (Agyness Deyn) who sees family trauma merge into global catastrophe as the first world war devastates her village.

From Afar (Lorenzo Vigas) – This début feature from writer-director Lorenzo Vigas won the 2015 Golden Lion (the highest prize) at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. Armando, a 50-year-old man, seeks young men in Caracas and pays them just for company. One day he meets Elder, a 17-year-old boy and that meeting changes their lives forever.

Morris From America (Chad Hartigan) – Follows an African-American teenager adjusting uneasily to his new life in Heidelberg, Germany. This has been on our watch list since the reactions from Sundance, where it won the Special Jury Prize & Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.

No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman) – The late avant-garde Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman moving portrait of her relationship with her mother, a Polish immigrant and Auschwitz survivor. Akerman passed away last year.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers (Geeta Gandbhir, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy) -Follows a predominantly Muslim unit of 160 women police officers sent to post-earthquake Haiti as UN Peacekeepers for one year. Both directors will be attending the festival, with co-director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-winning short A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness also screening.

Weiner (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg) – Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2016, the documentary follows former congressman Anthony Weiner in his attempt to overcome a sexting scandal and run for mayor of New York City – only to be felled, by another sexting scandal.
 
Full list of films announced

Features: Demolition, Maggie’s Plan, Everybody Wants Some!!, Sing Street, Sunset Song, The Commune, A Copy of My Mind, Angry Indian Goddesses, From Afar, Francofonia, A War, Mustang, Tharlo, The Devil’s Candy, Magallanes, Morris From America, Under the Shadow.

Documentaries: Weiner, A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (short), Sonita, Heart of a Dog, Janis: Little Girl Blue, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected, Mr Gaga, No Home Movie.

Scorsese retrospective: Mean Streets, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, Goodfellas, The Age Of Innocence, Casino, The Aviator

Full programme announced Wednesday 11 May.

Jun 072015
 

love&mercy

Paul Dano and John Cusack star as Brian Wilson; each actor portraying the Beach Boys musician at a crucial time in his life. This is not a conventional biopic. Here memories and sounds and woven between events, creating a film which is more about getting inside Brian’s head, than following major life and career events. Love & Mercy is reviewed after the jump.

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Apr 022014
 

The 61st Sydney Film Festival today announced 32 of the more than 180 films to be featured in this year’s event in advance of the full program launch on Wednesday 7 May.

Most exciting for me is Xavier Dolan’s fourth feature film, Tom At The Farm. The film premiered at TIFF last year and I’ve been aching to see it ever since. In Tom At The Farm, A young man attends the funeral of his gay lover in rural Quebec, only to find himself trapped in a dangerous dance of lust and sadistic impulses with the deceased’s brother. Dolan won the Sydney Film Festival Prize in 2010 for his second feature film, Heartbeats.

Other titles I am excited about are features: Joe (David Gorden Green), Frank (Lenny Abrahamson), 2014 Golden Bear Winner Black Coal, Thin Ice (Yinan Diao), Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? (Michel Gondry) and The Unknown Known (Errol Morris).

For Robert Altman fans, now is the time to get excited. The 61st Sydney Film Festival will feature a special eight film retrospective, with the director’s film-making son Michael Altman attending the festival as a special guest. Michael will introduce several of his father’s films and participate in the extensive talks programme.

A list of the 32 films announced (including synopsis) is after the jump.

For more information about the festival, films and tickets, visit http://www.sff.org.au/

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