The Sydney Film Festival is now in its 62nd year. The festival may not have the stature and prestige of film festivals around the world like Cannes, Berlin and Sundance, but it’s a vital part of Sydney’s culture. From June 3 to 14, the festival will light up silver screens around Sydney with some incredible works from cinema’s past, present and future.
The festival brings us the best in filmmaking from all around the world, and also showcases some incredible Australian filmmakers. This is the kind of thing that keeps our film industry alive.
Among the highlights this year is famed Australian director Gillian Armstrong’s welcome return with Women He’s Undressed, a documentary about the life of acclaimed Hollywood costume designer Orry-Kelly, who not only worked with people as famous as Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood, but was also an uncompromising trailblazer because of his frankness about his sexuality.
Also on the festival’s program are the Nicole Kidman-starring thriller Strangerland, Pasolini, which tells the story of the final days of the famed and controversial Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, a surreal psychological thriller from India named Sunrise, and British director Peter Strickland’s bold alternate-universe erotic romance The Duke of Burgundy. There are simply too many incredible films to list.
The Sydney Film Festival celebrates films that takes risks. Dryly humorous Swedish master Roy Andersson returns with the mouthful A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, an experimental coming-of-age drama from Ukraine called The Tribe is entirely in sign language and the offbeat Tangerine (making its international premiere at the festival) is a film about sex workers in L.A. shot entirely on an iPhone.
The festival also celebrates older films. This year it is celebrating the films of South Africa, both new works and lost classics, and includes several films from the rest of Africa (such as the classic Touki Bouki) that show the sharp, arresting cinematic qualities of the continent. David Stratton is also presenting an Ingmar Bergman retrospective, showing some of the Swedish director’s greatest and most affecting films.
The action is not just confined to the theatre, though. Throughout the festival, there will be talks from some of Australia’s top filmmakers and film academics. The pop-up Festival Hub, located at Sydney’s Town Hall will play host to bars and theme parties, including a 60’s party inspired by the film Love and Mercy, a vinyl lounge for record obsessives and a Studio 54 party in honour of 54: The Director’s Cut.
The best way to enjoy the festival is to purchase a Flexipass, which will allow you to pick and mix a selection of films without going over budget. Check out the Flexipass system or buy single tickets at the Sydney Film Festival website.
Keep an eye on Sydney Scoop over the coming weeks to see what we think of the films showing at the festival and get some great recommendations.