St.George OpenAir Cinema is back for its 22nd season with a program that rivals the cinema’s panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. “The location is hugely evocative,” says program curator Rob Bryant. “Even after 21 seasons, I still look at the harbour at night and get tingles up and down my spine.”

Held At Mrs Macquaries Point – with views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney’s glistening skyline – there really is no cinema like it. The cinema expects to draw crowds of up to 2000, and tickets always sell fast.

“It’s the concept of coming together. We’re trying to create an experience from beginning to end – from drink to dinner to entertainment. That’s what we’re passionate about.”

Kicking off the season is the Australian premiere of Spielberg’s historical drama The Post starring Hollywood heavyweights Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Sarah Paulson. “The Post is a riveting historical tale that still resonates strongly today, particularly given our political climate,” says Bryant. “It certainly lives up to expectations.”

Other blockbuster highlights include the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Aaron Sorkin’s biopic Molly’s Game.

But it’s the handful of independent, art-house films and documentaries that Bryant is most excited about. “Film offers so many different emotional responses – from straight out entertainment and escape to provocative, intellectual cinema. We try to find the right balance between those things,” he says.

Art-house comedies such as The Death of Stalin, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Swedish satire The Square feature alongside two beautiful, deftly crafted coming-of-age films: Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird featuring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf and Call Me by Your Name, Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of André Acimen’s novel of the same name.

The Death of Stalin is a very intelligent, humorous film, and Three Billboards is just outright fun and irreverent. Watching The Square was two hours of one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it,” says Bryant.

Advance screenings of two much-awaited Australian films also feature in the program. Following his critically acclaimed film Samson and Delilah, Warwick Thornton is back with his second feature Sweet Country. And Simon Baker has his directorial debut with the adaptation of Tim Winton’s bestselling book Breath.

For food, St.George OpenAir has teamed up with Matt Moran’s Chiswick to offer dishes with the same paddock-to-plate ethos, just a little more cinema friendly. Drinks from Kirin, Petaluma and Croser Wines and Archie Rose Distillery will also be available.

St.George OpenAir Cinema begins on January 7, 2018 and runs until February 17. Tickets are on sale from December 11, 2017 and the full season program is online at stgeorgeopenair.com.au