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SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL

THE ANTICIPATION OF 2014

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By Charlie David Page
7th May 2014

It's almost that time when the Sydney Film Festival takes over the cinemas of Sydney - and today, we were presented with what we can expect in 2014 - a total of 183 titles from 47 countries, 122 Australian premieres and 15 world premieres.

Let's begin with what we already know - last month, we were tantalised by a sample of what would be making its way to SFF this year. These included some intriguing choices, including the exuberantly quirky 'Frank', starring Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Indian hit 'The Lunchbox', and 'Cold In July', which stars Michael C. Hall ('Dexter') alongside Sam Shepard and Don Johnson ('Miami Vice') in a humorous pulp thriller. We also discovered Nick Cave's '20,000 Days On Earth' would open this year's festival, while Kiwi vampire mockumentary 'What We Do In The Shadows' would bring it to a close.

However, there's ever so much more to experience. For one, 'The Rover' will have its Australian premiere; the film written and directed by David Michôd ('Animal Kingdom') and starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson has received a lot of very positive chatter following its Cannes debut. It's hardly the only film making its way from the prestigious festival - we'll also see the likes of 'Two Days, One Night' (directed by the Dardenne brothers), 'The Captive', Dreamworks' 'How To Train Your Dragon 2', Japanese folk tale 'The Tale of The Princess Kaguya', 'You’re Sleeping Nicole' (directed by Stéphane Lafleur), and the documentary 'National Gallery'.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, with this year's Sydney Film Festival featuring so many feature films from such a wide variety of countries. There's 'Begin Again', from writer/director John Carney, responsible for 'Once'. Richard Linklater makes another appearance at SFF this year with 'Boyhood', a fascinating film shot over 12 years, and starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Or there's 'Gabrielle', the story of a developmentally challenged young woman falling in love from the producers of the uplifting 'Monsieur Lahzar'. After some horror? Why not try 'Goal of the Dead', about, yes, a zombie outbreak during a soccer match. There's also 'Stage Fright', combining Broadway numbers and bloodshed.

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Perhaps you'd prefer Emily Browning's 'God Help The Girl', a poignant coming-of-age story turned indie-pop musical, or 'Locke', starring Tom Hardy in a daring and very successful cinematic experiment. 'Love Is Strange' is sure to sell out quickly, with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina starring as a couple in New York who get married, but must endure unusual and sometimes humorous circumstances. There's also 'Night Moves' from Kelly Reichardt ('Meek's Cutoff', 'Wendy and Lucy', 'Old Joy') and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning as environmental activists who band together to develop a sabotage plot. Patricia Highsmith's novel 'The Two Faces Of January' hits the screens at SFF, starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac, as does 'The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet', about a precocious 10-year-old with a vivid, scientific imagination from director Jean-Pierre Jeune. Certain to be popular is Zach Braff's follow-up to 'Garden State', 'Wish I Was Here', as he directs and stars as a troubled late-thirties actor. I'm also very excited to see 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby' will be appearing at this year's festival - two adventurous films telling the same story from the different perspectives of a pair of lovers (Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy) as their relationship breaks down.

For those interested in documentaries, SFF has always provided a great selection, and 2014 is no exception. This year, you can catch everything from Indigenous theatre in 'The Redfern Story', the story of the infamous topless protestors in 'Ukraine Is Not A Brothel', a glimpse into the changing face of China in 'China's 3Dreams', the push for same sex marriage laws in 'The Case Against 8', an Iranian teenage girl who wants to be an astronaut in 'Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars', join the dig for the most complete T-Rex skeleton in 'Dinosaur 13', and look at the Large Hadron Collider in 'Particle Fever'.

For more details and information on how to purchase tickets, head to www.sff.org.au.

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