It's stunning to think that the Sydney Film Festival is celebrating its 70th year. Better still - that we're getting to join in those celebrations! There's plenty to take in, with one of the most exciting line-ups in years. We've collected our favourite offerings from this year's mighty line-up - but we can't wait to explore these as well as the little gems that await us when the festival runs between the 7th and 18th June!
Kicking off the whole shebang (fittingly) is 'The New Boy'. Kaytetye filmmaker Warwick Thornton ('Sweet Country', 'Samson & Delilah') returns with his Cannes-selected film, Cate Blanchett returns in her first Australian film in years, along with Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair and newcomer Aswan Reid in the story of a young Aboriginal orphan in 1940s Australia. Compliment that with the world premiere of 'The Dark Emu Story', a documentary on Aboriginal writer Bruce Pascoe, directed by Allan Clarke ('The Bowraville Murders').
That's complemented with excellent international offerings including Wes Anderson's Asteroid City, Christian Petzold's Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear winning feature 'Afire', Charlotte Regan's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner 'Scrapper', and Cannes competitors Kore-eda Hirokazu's 'Monster', Aki Kaurismäki 'Fallen Leaves', Kim Jee-woon's 'Cobweb' and Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir's 'The Mother of All Lies'. Other festival gems include the Sundance-selected 'Bad Behaviour', Alice Englert's directorial debut, a dark New Zealand-produced comedy starring Jennifer Connelly, Ben Whishaw, Dasha Nekrasova and Englert herself, and Celine Song's Sundance and Berlinale 2023 selected tender romance, 'Past Lives'. There's also some offerings for the whole family, including Disney Pixar's 'Elemental', Australian animation 'Scarygirl' featuring the voices of Jillian Nguyen, Sam Neill, Deborah Mailman and Tim Minchin, and the Spanish coming-of-age story '20,000 Species of Bees'.
With a special focus this year on documentaries in competition - including three World Premieres and three Australian Premieres - there'll be a real push to see true Australian stories. Former Socceroos Captain Craig Foster fights to save a life in 'The Defenders', 'The Cape' investigates the mysterious tragedies in Australia's Cape York, 'The Carnival' embarks on an epic road trip with a sixth-generation carnival family, 'Climate Changers', is a biopic on conservationist Tim Flannery; 'Keeping Hope' investigates the high suicide rates in the Kimberley, 'Rachel's Farm' looks at how actor-director Rachel Ward revitalises her northern NSW beef farm using sustainable farming practices, while 'Kindred' follows Aboriginal filmmakers Gillian Moody and Adrian Russell Wills, who were adopted by white families and have connected back with their bloodline families.
The great thing is, this is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what to expect - with 239 films over 12 days from 67 countries, what else would you want to do with your time during Sydney's miserable winter?
Head to sff.org.au for the full festival line-up and to buy tickets.