The Sydney Film Festival announced earlier today the first 27 new titles from its 200+ film program, plus an Ingmar Bergman retrospective curated by Australia's top film critic and former SFF Director David Stratton. Other announcements include Dendy Newtown as a new screening venue and an enhanced family film program.
Leading the titles announced today in the Festival's sneak peek are the Australian-Irish thriller Strangerland, starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving; Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Slow West, a new twist on the classic western starring Michael Fassbender, with Australians Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn; Mr Holmes starring Sir Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes obsessing over his last unsolved case; and the surreal pitch-black comedy A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, from the great Swedish director Roy Andersson, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
True stories on offer include Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Alex Gibney's shocking exposé of that movement's sway over Hollywood; Love & Mercy, the Brian Wilson/Beach Boys biopic starring John Cusack and Paul Dano; and The Look of Silence, the highly anticipated follow up to Joshua Oppenheimer's phenomenal The Act of Killing (SFF 2013).
Also announced today is a newly enhanced program of family and kids' films, including the Academy Award-nominated Irish animated feature Song of the Sea; and The Crow's Egg, a charming and funny live-action feature from India.
Of the 37 films announced in the preview, 17 are new features and 10 are new documentaries including 24 Australian Premieres, and 10 are iconic works of cinema - the special retrospective program Essential Bergman: Selected by David Stratton; including The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona, Cries and Whispers and Fanny and Alexander. Stratton, who was SFF's Festival Director from 1966 to 1983, will introduce selected screenings of the specially imported prints.
Another retrospective, and one of the most talked-about re-releases of the year, is 54: The Director's Cut. The painstakingly restored version of the controversial 1998 melodrama about New York's hedonistic disco heyday, starring Ryan Phillippe and Mike Myers, reintroduces the homoerotic into a film that had been subject to reshoots and cuts on its original release.
Prestigious new features included in the preview are 99 Homes, a thriller about the 2008 global financial crisis starring Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, SFF 2011; Boardwalk Empire) and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, The Amazing Spider-Man); iconic British director Peter Greenaway's latest, Eisenstein in Guanajuato; and the Indian noir Sunrise, starring Life of Pi's Adil Hussain.
Edgier selections add spice to the program: Peter Strickland's The Duke of Burgundy, a stylish erotic melodrama about a lesbian S&M relationship; and Kabukicho Love Hotel, set in Tokyo's red-light district and starring J-pop sensation Atsuko Maeda (Tamako in Moratorium, SFF 2014).
Outstanding documentaries remain essential to the Festival. Best of Enemies looks at the legendary televised clashes between intellectual heavyweights Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. The Chinese Mayor covers the collision between progress and individual rights in China. The uplifting Beats of the Antonov celebrates the power of music and dance to help a people and a culture survive the civil war in the Sudan; while My Love, Don't Cross That River is a touching portrait of a South Korean couple married for 76 years.
This year's SFF will run between June 3 and 14, and its full program will be unveiled on May 6. Check the Festival Official Website
for further details.
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