The 63rd Sydney Film Festival program was officially launched today by the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant.
“The NSW Government is proud to continue its support for this amazing festival; a key event that has cemented itself in Sydney’s winter entertainment calendar,” Mr Grant said. “I’m extremely pleased that these films will be seen by more and more people in regional NSW, as the Festival goes on its regional tour later this year.”
“Sydney Film Festival has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with attendances increasing by over 59% to 176,000, since 2011,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “In 2016 the Festival will present 244 films from 60 countries including 25 World Premieres, representing hundreds of fresh perspectives and new stories from across Australia and around the world.”
“The Festival allows audiences to explore new worlds, new perspectives and new ways of being. An exposure to unfamiliar places and ways of life is enlightening, and not only does it spark a change in our view but our whole world. This year we celebrate film’s ability to inspire new ideas and encourage new experiences,” he said.
OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHTS
The 2016 Festival opens with the world premiere of Goldstone, a stylish and intelligent outback noir from acclaimed Indigenous writer-director Ivan Sen, presented by Distinguished Partner, Lexus Australia. Goldstone’s stellar Australian cast includes Aaron Pedersen, Jacki Weaver, David Wenham, and David Gulpilil. The film sees Pedersen reprise his role as Indigenous detective Jay Swan who audiences first met in Sen’s Mystery Road, which opened the Festival in 2013. Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s comical early novella ‘Lady Susan’ – starring Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Australian actor Xavier Samuel and Stephen Fry – is presented by Distinguished Partner, Princess Cruises, and will close the Festival.
Ivan Sen’s Goldstone features among the 12 films selected to compete for the prestigious Sydney Film Prize and $60,000 cash awarded by the Festival for courageous, audacious and cutting-edge filmmaking. The remaining titles screening in Competition are new works from acclaimed directors: Boo Junfeng (Apprentice), Kleber Mendonça Filho (Aquarius), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women), Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader), Oliver Hermanus (The Endless River), Xavier Dolan (It’s Only the End of the World), Martin Zandvliet (Land of Mine), Ivo M. Ferreira (Letters From War), Peter Middleton and James Spinney (Notes on Blindness), Anurag Kashyap (Psycho Raman), and Paddy Breathnach (Viva). The winner of the Sydney Film Prize is announced at the Festival’s Closing Night Gala on Sunday 19 June. Previous winners include: Arabian Nights (2015);Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011);Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).
World premieres at the Festival include five Australian films, beginning with Ivan Sen’s Goldstone.Festivalgoers will be the first to see: Down Under, Abe Forsythe’s provocative black comedy with an all-star Australian cast (Lincoln Younes, Rahel Romahn, Damon Herriman, David Field and Marshall Napier) set during the aftermath of the Cronulla Riots; Craig Boreham’s Teenage Kicks, a powerful new queer drama, four years in the making, with a brilliant line-up of young Australian talent (Miles Szanto, Daniel Webber, Charlotte Best and Shari Sebbens); Australian theatre veteran Stephen Sewell’s directorial debut with the erotic political thriller Embedded; and Craig Anderson’s spooky thriller Red Christmas starring horror legend Dee Wallace.
Eight Australian documentaries will have their world premieres at the Festival, including six documentaries competing for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary: Baxter and Me, Constance on the Edge, Destination Arnold, Embrace, On Richard’s Side and The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe. Two will screen in the International Documentaries program: Suzy & the Simple Man and Winter at Westbeth.
The 63rd Sydney Film Festival will screen 244 films from 60 countries, with 25 world premieres(including 12 World Premiere short films), 139 Australian premieres (including 13 Australian premiere short films) and three international premieres.
LEXUS AUSTRALIA SHORT FILM FELLOWSHIP
New to the Festival is the Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship, the largest cash fellowship (AU$200,000 annually) for short film in Australia. On Tuesday 14 June, four fellows will be announced, selected from 21 shortlisted Australian filmmakers by a Jury chaired by actress July Davis. Once announced the fellows will commence production of their films, which will premiere at the 64th Sydney Film Festival in 2017. The Fellowship is a partnership between Lexus Australia, The Weinstein Company and Sydney Film Festival.
The Festival will also host the world premiere of Australian actor and filmmaker Damian Walshe-Howling’s short film MESSiAH, starring David Gulpilil. The film is the result of Walshe-Howling winning Lexus’ international competition, Lexus Short Film Series; alongside three other filmmakers from France, South Korea and the USA, beating over four thousand other entries including 355 from Australia.
MESSiAH will be among 22 short films screened before feature-length films throughout the Festival. Ten finalists in the Dendy Awards, Australia’s longest running short film competition, now in its 47th year, will also screen over two sessions on 18 and 19 June. Three prize winners will be announced at the Festival’s Closing Night, together with the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award.
The Festival continues to cast a wide footprint across Sydney at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Skyline Drive-In Blacktown, Art Gallery of NSW, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Casula Powerhouse, SFF Outdoor Screen at Pitt Street Mall, the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall, and the Apple Store Sydney. Newly added locations: the University of New South Wales and Carriageworks, expand on the Festival Hub’s program of new immersive screen experiences.
SFFTV, the Festival’s Outdoor Screen has relocated to Pitt Street Mall, with a huge double-sided screen presenting Festival trailers, red carpet footage and a specially selected program of short films. An impressive line-up of animated shorts showcasing many styles and techniques curated by the Festival’s Animation Programmer Malcolm Turner; and historical footage of the Darling Harbour Goods Yard in Steam on The Harbour 1965 – 1971, from the National Film and Sound Archive’s Roger McKenzie Collection, will also screen.
FILMS FROM CANNES
The Festival will screen nine films direct from the Cannes Film Festival including Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius; Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World; and Oscar winning Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta; all in the running for the Palme d’Or.
Two films from the Cannes Official Selection: Singaporean Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice; and American filmmaker Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic starring Viggo Mortensen and Australian actor Nicholas Hamilton; have also been selected to screen in Sydney.
Two Festival films with Midnight Screenings at Cannes, French director Jean-François Richet’sBlood Father starring Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor Mel Gibson; and American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger, a documentary love letter to punk icons Iggy Pop and his band The Stooges, will screen at the Festival. Gibson will also join the Sydney Film Festival conversation for a FREE Vivid Ideas talk at the Festival Hub.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s fantasy adventure The BFG which will screen in the Festival’s Family program; and prolific contemporary Indian director Anurag Kashyap’s Psycho Raman also share a Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and Sydney Film Festival screening.
Four films screening at Cannes are also contenders for the Festival’s Sydney Film Prize (Apprentice,Psycho Raman, Aquarius, It’s Only the End of the World).
DOCUMENTARY AUSTRALIA FOUNDATION AWARD
The Festival’s diverse film programs promise cinematic treasures to be discovered every day. From the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, showcasing 10 outstanding Australian documentaries; to 15 big-ticket films in Special Presentations at The State, presented by Princess Cruises. There are also 45 Feature Films from prize-winners of the world’s most prestigious festivals; and 33 International Documentaries tackling essential contemporary topics, from some of the world’s most renowned documentarians.
The Festival’s important new initiative, European Cinema: 10 Women Filmmakers to Watch, in partnership with European Film Promotion and Variety, showcases 10 new films by 10 of Europe’s most promising female storytellers, providing a platform for women’s voices. Audiences will be presented with a range of exciting and diverse films from emerging European filmmakers.
Acclaimed Serbian actress Mirjana Karanovi?, Swedish visual artist and documentary filmmaker Sara Jordenö, Danish filmmaker Frederikke Aspöck whose films have screened at Cannes, one of Poland’s most talented filmmakers Agnieszka Smoczynska, and actress and director Nicolette Krebitz from Berlin will be in attendance to present their films to Festival audiences.
For the first time the Festival is delighted to welcome teenagers to screenings. Just over half the program of feature films (93) will be rated 15+ making them accessible to audiences under the age of 18 years old; a result of changes to the Australian classification rules allowing the Festival to assess films using the criteria set out in the National Classification Code, instead of applying the 18+ mandatory default classification required in previous years.
Family Films program returns with six films, including the premiere of blockbuster adventure comedy Ice Age: Collision Course and the Cannes-selected The BFG. Adults too will love this program, designed to bring festival-quality feature-length films suitable for a variety of ages including Coconut Hero, the new Australian feature Girl Asleep, Long Way North and Miss Impossible.
The Animation Showcase returns to the Festival for the second year, curated by specialist Malcolm Turner. Screening short animated gems from all around the world including an International Animation Showcase of the very best films from all corners of the globe, the wicked After Dark Animation Showcase, a Kids Animation Showcase curated for younger audiences and short films screening for free at Pitt Street Mall; the animation program will delight young and older fans alike.
SOUNDS ON SCREEN
Sounds on Screen continues to celebrate the stories of inspiring music and musicians through a selection of six films. Two feature films: Born to be Blue starring Ethan Hawke and biopic I Saw the Light starring Tom Hiddleston as America’s first country music superstar Hank Williams; and four documentaries, Janis: Little Girl Blue, the story of Janis Joplin; Miss Sharon Jones by two time Oscar winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple; The Man From Mo’wax, the story of British underground DJ icon James Lavelle; and Contemporary Color inspired by Talking Heads’ lead singer David Byrne’s fascination with color guard (the American tradition of synchronised performance, complete with flag swirling and rifle tossing ).
THE BOX SET
Extending the musical theme The Box Set will take audiences on an epic journey to the roots of American pop music to reveal the untold story of how it was recorded. A four part documentary series screened over three sessions, American Epic and The American Epic Sessions was created by Jack White (The White Stripes), Robert Redford, and T Bone Burnett.
The Sydney Film Festival’s retrospective program starting with by Essential Scorsese: Selected by David Stratton, gives audiences a chance to see 10 films by Martin Scorsese, one of the most influential directors of our time, on the big screen; including Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bulland The Age of Innocence.