As the 60th Sydney Film Festival approaches, feelings of excitement and eager anticipation are shared by all of the city's film lovers. Why? Well, the recently unveiled festival program features a truly spectacular line-up, and there is really something for everyone to enjoy here.
The Opening Night Film is Mystery Road, written, directed, edited and scored by talented Aussie filmmaker Ivan Sen. The trailer has not yet been released, but the description of the film certainly sounds intriguing: "a suspenseful and intelligent mystery that uses the conventions of the Western and the police procedural in a subtle examination of the social and political context of a small town in the Australian Outback." Sen's last feature, Toomelah, was in SFF Official Competition in 2011.
The Closing Night Film is Morgan Neville's Twenty Feet From Stardom, a documentary that pays homage to some of the unsung best in the music business - the backup singers. Featuring interviews with music greats including Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, Sheryl Crow, Sting and Stevie Wonder, and boasting a fantastic soundtrack, this film looks to be the most memorable way to bid farewell to this year's Sydney Film Festival.
Every year, 12 feature films are selected for the SFF Official Competition on the basis that they demonstrate "emotional power and resonance; are audacious, cutting-edge, courageous; and go beyond the usual treatment of the subject matter." The winner takes home a cash prize of AU$60,000. Like in previous years, this year's entries are diverse and yet they all look incredible. The 12 films are: The Act of Killing, Borgman, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Child's Pose, For Those in Peril, Grigris, Monsoon Shootout, Oh Boy, Only God Forgives, The Rocket, Stories We Tell and Wadjda.
Of the 12 films, the ones I am personally most interested in are:
Only God Forgives: because Ryan Gosling collaborates with director Nicolas Winding Refn again, and I love Drive.
Child's Pose: because its story that "centres on a mother's twisted affection for her son" sounds compelling, and it won this year's Berlinale Golden Bear.
The Rocket: because I am a big fan of "heartwarming coming-of-age tale(s)", and being filmed in beautiful locations in Laos, the film looks stunning.
Wadjda: because this is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and by that country's first female filmmaker, Haifaa Al Mansour.
The trailer for Twenty Feet From Stardom, Child's Pose, The Rocket and Wadjda are embedded below. The trailer for Only God Forgives has been previously featured on ScreenAnarchy and can be found here.