Sydney Film Festival (SFF) returns for its 66th year this June, screening 307 films from more than 55 countries, including 33 world premieres and 79 documentaries. There will be 112 feature films and two retrospectives of influential female directors: Viva Varda: A Retrospective of Agnès Varda, and Essential Australian Women Directors – 10 Trailblazers Selected by David Stratton.
In April SFF announced 25 films that would be showing. They include a documentary about footballer Adam Goodes; an Aretha Franklin concert by filmmaker Sydney Pollack; and High Life, a sexually charged sci-fi thriller from French director Claire Denis (Chocolat), which stars Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche and Outkast singer André 3000.
The festival will open with the world premiere of Palm Beach, a dramatic comedy by Australian director Rachel Ward starring Bryan Brown, Sam Neill and Richard E Grant with a backdrop of Sydney’s northern beaches.
The film festival’s official competition will award $60,000 in cash for audacious, cutting-edge and courageous cinema. The films in the running include feminist revenge story Judy & Punch; the Hugo Weaving-starring Hearts and Bones; the Oscar-nominated Never Look Away; Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory; and Dirty God, about a woman scarred in an acid attack.
World premieres at the festival include The Final Quarter, which follows the struggles faced by Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes after his public call-out of racism; queer coming-of-age story Sequin in a Blue Room; and Standing Up for Sunny, which stars Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte.
Other films to watch out for include Jim Jarmusch’s (Only Lovers Left Alive, Coffee and Cigarettes) zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die, which stars top talents including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez and Iggy Pop; music documentaries Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, Mystify: Michael Hutchence, and Blinded By the Light, about Bruce Springsteen’s influence on a British-Pakistani teen; and Skin, the story of a white supremacist who transforms for love.
“This year’s program holds a mirror to titanic shifts culturally and politically, with films that will challenge and excite us,” the festival’s director Nashen Moodley said in a statement. “Shining a light on subjects that are often little explored or seen, these films are an invitation for us to collectively reflect on who we are, and what may lay ahead.
“The festival also stands with talented women filmmakers in an industry still struggling with equality. With the Europe! Voices of Women in Film strand, and retrospective programs celebrating pioneering women, including our tribute to the late Agnès Varda, the festival this year has signed the 5050x2020 pledge, committing to working towards gender parity and inclusion in film festivals,” he says.
These films and loads more will be shown during the festival, along with free talks, short-film awards, panels and parties. A festival hub at Town Hall will have happy hour drinks from Archie Rose, Handpicked Wines and Young Henrys, and will also sell $10 on-the-day festival tickets.
Sydney Film Festival runs from June 5 to 16 at venues across the city. Find the full program here. Tickets are on sale now.