Sydney Film Festival 2016

Scott Wallace
11th May 2016

When the Sydney Film Festival returns each year, it always feels like a triumph. Promoting some of the most forward-thinking and important film innovations of past, present, and future, the Sydney Film Festival consistently provides a broad and thought-provoking program from Australia and around the world.

This year, the program consists of 250 features, shorts and special screenings. Indigenous filmmaker Ivan Sen is also in the spotlight with his new feature Goldstone, which will open the festival. The taut and intriguing crime drama features an incredible cast including Jacki Weaver, David Gulpilil, David Wenham, Alex Russell and more in an isolated outback setting.

One of the major crowd pleasers is sure to be Swiss Army Man, an offbeat and surreal adventure-comedy cum love story with Paul Dano appearing alongside Daniel Radcliffe as a flatulent corpse.

Sydney Film Festival reliably focuses on female filmmakers in a sphere that is dominated by men. One of the most exciting films on the program is Heart of a Dog, an essay film from the great and influential performance artist Laurie Anderson that explores love, death and language through the lens of Anderson’s grief over the loss of her dog Lolabelle. The Festival’s new initiative, European Cinema: 10 Women Filmmakers to Watch, will showcase ten new films by 1tenof Europe’s most promising female storytellers, providing a platform for women’s voices. 

The festival’s global focus is quite stunning, ranging from the historical piece Francofonia, directed by contemporary Russian master Alexander Sokurov to the striking and unapologetic documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, detailing the blight of violence against women in Pakistan. The Sydney Film Festival leaves no stone unturned.

The festival, as mentioned, also celebrates the past, and the important works of film that continue to influence and inspire. After taking on Swedish cinema giant Ingmar Bergman last year, this year David Stratton has his sights set on Martin Scorsese, showcasing and introducing ten of the film titan’s most important works.

The festival also explores the way film can impact and inform other areas of our life, bringing the senses together with Gourmet Cinema. This year, Ants on a Shrimp: Noma in Tokyo takes a candid look at celebrity chef René Redzepi shuts up his acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, and heads to Japan to craft a locally inspired 14-course menu. Afterwards, filmgoers can continue the experience with a meal at The Bridge Room.

Music fans will also find something to love, with Janis: Little Girl Blue telling the story of Janis Joplin through her own letters and communications with friends and family, with narration from one of Joplin’s most avowed fans, musician Cat Power. The comedy-drama Sing Street also offers an interesting take on the musical, set in 1980s Dublin and the youthful exuberance of rock music.

The festival’s Beyond Cinema program also explores pieces that sit at the nexus of film and other art forms, most notably dance and advanced technology like virtual reality, expanding our perception of what cinema actually means.

There are many films and events not named here, so head over to the Sydney Film Festival website to see the full, enormous program.

All of this is packed into only 12 days, from Wednesday the 8th of June to Sunday the 19th of June. The best way to see all the films you’re aching to see is to grab a flexipass - starting at $155 for 10 films - from the Sydney Film Festival website. Be quick, because these screenings will sell out.

Keep an eye on the Sydney Scoop calendar for our picks for the Sydney Film Festival’s most essential screenings.