SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL
8 to 19 JUNE
Hurrah! After two years of Covid-caused disruption, the Sydney Film Festival moves back to its traditional June dates this year - and what a feast for cinephiles it is: close to 200 features, documentaries, shorts and retrospective films are available to choose from, including a host of movies from the just-completed Cannes Film Festival. The hard part is deciding what to leave out of your selection because it’s just not possible to see everything you might want to. Festival Director Nashen Moodley and his programming team have made things very difficult for festival-goers and hard decisions will have to be made. Still, what a delightful position to be in! You can start choosing you program here.
As in previous years, the festival is comprised of a number of competitive sections and specific side-bars. The most notable is, of course, the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize, which will be awarded to the most “audacious, cutting-edge and courageous” of the 12 films in the Official Competition line-up. Next is the Documentary Australia Award, which offers a prize of $10,000 to the best Aussie doco. There are nine films in this year’s program, running from five minutes to 98. The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films is always a festival highlight, too, and there are 10 shorts on offer in this selection. Other returning side-bars include Features, International Documentaries, Sounds on Screen, Europe! Voices of Women in Film, First Nations, Freak Me Out! and Family Films. In addition, this year there are two retrospectives, one on the work of the great Indian director Satyajit Ray and the other on the documentaries of incisive American filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. These and other program strands can be perused here.
The opening night film is a co-production from New Zealand and Australia, an omnibus work from 10 different directors, We Are Still Here. Collectively, the eight stories examine the impact of colonialism on Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. The just-announced closing night movie is fresh from Cannes and is the latest work from South Korean director Kore-eda Hirokazu, Broker. Closing night is also when the various award-winners are announced. In between these two bookends is a wealth of films from 64 countries, including one from Ukraine, Klondike, that, according to the program notes, is a “timely reminder of the unfathomable toll war takes on ordinary people.”
Films like that also reminds us of the importance of cinema in our lives and how it can inform us and, by doing so, transform us. Long may it survive!