Sydney Film Festival Announces 2017 Program

Tony Ling
11th May 2017

Whether you’re a film buff, student, creator, or connoisseur, there is nothing quite like the Sydney Film Festival for the lover of cinema. In a world that can be filled with chaos, anxiety and an ever-amounting series of distractions, the incredible escapism of visual storytelling is more welcome than ever. This year, the Sydney Film Festival will present 288 films from 59 countries including 37 world premieres and a lot of screenings of internationally acclaimed films that won’t be in Aussie cinemas until months after the festival’s finished.
Commencing from the 7th to the 18th of June, the opening film of the festival will be the world premier of the documentary We Don’t Need a Map directed by the director of Samson and Delilah Warwick Thornton. The latest entry for this acclaimed Australian indigenous filmmaker explores the history of the Southern Cross and what it means to different Australians from pre-colonial times, all the way to the present day. There’s little ways you can get more Australian than that for an Australian film festival’s opener.

This year also contains some exciting firsts.

First one is Screenability, a platform which focuses on works from screen creatives with disability. Six candidates were handpicked from around the world to showcase their stories ranging from drama to documentary. Ireland’s indie drama, My Name is Emily, starring Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series) will be one to look out for.

Virtual reality and its incredible potential for storytelling have to be experienced to be understood. That’s why Sydney Film Festival under the guide of the edgy VR content collective: BADFAITH, will deliver 13 VR experiences of pure escapism that lets you open your mind to everything from a story of evolution to Japanese robots.

In the spirit of giving women the representation that they deserve, Sydney Film Festival will present a program named "Europe! Voices of Women in Film" showcasing ten cinematic stories from the filmmaking ladies of Europe. Sami Blood, a coming-of-age drama about a girl that escapes a nomad school to carve her identity has already won film festival awards the world over.

If you like punk, you’re in the for a treat. Smash it Up: Celebrating 40 years of Punk Rock 1977-2017 will pay tribute to the music genre curated by Richard Kuipers. In this program will feature beloved punk cinema like Jubilee (1978) and classic tale of the Sex Pistols, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980).

The Government of Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of Confederation. Hence, they decided to come to Sydney with seven Canadian films representing the various beautiful themes of their friendly and maple syrupy nation. One that definitely looks promising is the premier of Maudie starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. This biographical drama came out of Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary Film Festivals as well as the Canadian box office with huge critical and financial success that apparently outperformed The Fate of the Furious. There’s also the incredibly beautiful animated film about a poet with Chinese and Persian parents named Window Horses starring Ellen Page. It has a very humble and unique art style that has enchanted every film critic that saw it thus far.

Films from Cannes all having their Australian premieres include Sophia Copolla’s eerie erotic drama The Beguiled which stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst, and Korea’s legendary Bong Joon-ho and his film Okja starring Tilda Swinton and Ahn Seo-Hyun. Okja will also be the closing film of the Sydney Film Festival.

A documentary that will definitely be relevant right now is Napalm. Directed by acclaimed 91-year old French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann (the director behind the nine-hour documentary classic Shoah), this documentary is set in North Korea.

The beloved theatre and screen, Academy Award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave will be making her directorial debut in her film Sea Sorrow starring herself and Ralph Fiennes. Margaret Pomeranz, the beloved film critic from ABC’s At the Movies will join Vanessa Redgrave for a FREE Vivid Ideas Talk at the Festival Hub as part of the SFF. You bet I will be there to listen to these two titans converse about cinema.

One of Australia’s most beloved film critics David Stratton returns with his retrospective program that spotlights a legendary filmmaker. This year, it’s Essential Kurosawa. Yes, that’s right, it’s Akira Kurosawa! Anybody who calls themselves a lover of film needs to know one of the most influential and well respected Japanese filmmakers in history. Untouchable masterpieces like Rashomon and Seven Samurai are included in the Stratton-curated retrospective this year. 

There are so much more movies and programs slated for this year’s Sydney Film Festival that it's impossible for them to all be mentioned here. So find a nice beverage of your choice, head over to the Sydney Film Festival website and start designing your plan of attack on the gigantic program.

This year’s standard Flexipass of 10 tickets will cost $159. For the youngins out there, A new, cheaper Youth Pass has been introduced this year with bundles of six tickets costing only $72. Tickets for under 18s cost $13 each.

Keep on an eye out on Sydney Scoop for our picks on the Sydney Film Festival’s fantastic film catalogue of 2017!