SFF 2018 Announce Full Program

The 65th Sydney Film Festival program was officially launched today by the NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin.

“The NSW Government is delighted to support the 2018 Sydney Film Festival, Sydney’s strength as a centre for filmmaking, and our passion for film culture is what drives our city’s status as one of only 13 UNESCO Cities of Film in the world,” Mr Harwin said.

“I encourage you to immerse yourself in the festival and enjoy these creative and thought provoking films with your friends and family, right here in Sydney – your city of film.”

“Since 1954, the Sydney Film Festival has brought over 9,000 of the best films from around the globe to Australian audiences; a canon we are proud to expand on 65 years later,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

“Over the years, much has changed in cinema, and indeed the world. What remains constant is the need for understanding. In an increasingly fragmented society, the Festival continues to unite friends and strangers, creating new experiences and ways to interpret the wider world.”

“In a year that has highlighted the inequalities facing women across society and in the film industry, the Festival is also pleased to announce that six out of 12 Official Competition films this year are directed by women filmmakers.”

Sydney Film Festival has gone from strength to strength in recent years: since 2011 attendance has increased by 72% to 185,000 filmgoers.  In 2018 the Festival will present 326 films from 65 countries including 21 World Premieres, bringing together hundreds of international and local stories.

OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHTS

The 2018 Festival opens with the Australian premiere of The Breaker Upperers, a side-splittingly funny New Zealand film from writers-directors-stars Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami.  Opening Night is presented by Distinguished Partner, Lexus Australia.

The comedy follows two cynical misfits earning a living breaking up unhappy couples for cash by faking deaths, impersonating cops and strippers, and feigning pregnancies.  Rising stars Van Beek and Sami will be joined by Australian actress Celia Pacquola to present their Opening Night film. Van Beek and Sami will also be part of a Meet the Filmmakers talk at The Festival Hub (Saturday, 9 June, 4:00pm).

Closing the Festival is heart-warming indie comedy Hearts Beat Loud, starring Golden Globe winning Australian actress Toni Colette and Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman, about an ageing hipster dad forming an unlikely band with his reluctant, talented daughter played by Kiersey Clemons.

THE PROGRAM

The Festival’s diverse film program promises cinematic treasures to be discovered every day. From the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, showcasing 10 exceptional Australian documentaries; to 15 big-ticket films in Special Presentations at The State.

There are also 120 feature films, including prize-winners from prestigious festivals around the world; and 57 documentaries tackling crucial contemporary issues, from the world’s most renowned documentarians.

OFFICIAL COMPETITION

For the 11th year, the Official Competition will award the $60,000 cash Sydney Film Prize for audacious, cutting-edge and courageous cinema.

Among the 12 films selected to compete are Australian feature Jirga, shot entirely in war-torn Afghanistan, from Australian Benjamin Gilmour, and straight from the Cannes Competition BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s latest feature based on the remarkable true story of an African-American cop who successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.

Also screening in Competition are exciting new films from acclaimed directors Milko Lazarov (Ága), Laura Bispuri (Daughter of Mine), Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Desiree Akhavan (The Miseducation of Cameron Post), Kamila Andini (The Seen and Unseen), Christian Petzold (Transit), and Annemarie Jacir (Wajib).

The competition also carries debut films from breaking talents Paraguayan director Marcelo Martinessi (The Heiresses), Hungarian female filmmaker Zsófia Szilágyi (One Day), and a debut documentary about Sri Lankan-born pop star and activist M.I.A., by London-based digital artist Stephen Loveridge (Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.).

The winner of the Sydney Film Prize is announced at the Festival’s Closing Night Gala on Sunday 17 June.  Previous winners are: On Body and Soul (2017), Aquarius (2016), Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).

The competition is endorsed by FIAPF, the regulating body for international film festivals, and is judged by a jury of five international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals.

The 2018 Official Competition jury comprises: Australian artist and filmmaker Lynette Wallworth (Jury President); Filipino producer and writer Bianca Balbuena (Season of the Devil, SFF 2018); South African film composer and songwriter Chris Letcher; Australian actor Ewen Leslie (The Daughter, Official Competition SFF 2016), and; Programming Director, Tokyo Film Festival, Yoshi Yatabe.

Attending the Festival to present the premiere of their films in competition are seven filmmakers and actors including Australian Benjamin Gilmour and lead actor Sam Smith (Jirga), Bulgarian director Milko Lazarov (Ága), Italian director Laura Bispuri (Daughter of Mine), Paraguayan director Marcelo Martinessi (The Heiresses), Hungarian director Zsófia Szilágyi (One Day), and Indonesian producer Gita Fara (The Seen and Unseen).

Gilmour and Smith, alongside their producer John Maynard, will engage in an extended Festival Q&A at The Hub to discuss the extraordinary story of how their film was made (Saturday, 9 June, 2pm).

WORLD PREMIERES

World premieres at the Festival include two Australian feature films, Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga, and Chocolate Oyster – an experimental, observational comedy about young people in Sydney from Steve Jaggi.

DOCUMENTARY AUSTRALIA FOUNDATION AWARDS

Ten documentaries (including seven world premieres) will contest the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, from I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story – a film about four obsessive fangirls whose lives were changed forever by their love of boybands – to China Love, a fascinating exploration of contemporary China through the billion-dollar fantasy world of pre-wedding photography.

Other Australian stories competing include: Backtrack Boys, Dying to Live, Finke: There & Back, Ghosthunter, In the Land of Wolves, Oyster, RocKabul, and Teach a Man to Fish.

NEW!  FLUX: ART + FILM

New to the Festival is FLUX: Art+Film, eight titles from artists who challenge and transform the cinema experience, selected by guest curator Bridget Ikin.

Two innovative Australian films will push the boundaries between art and film: the world premiere of [CENSORED], a provocative world premiere Australian documentary stitched together entirely from footage previously cut by Australian censors, and blistering cinema mash-up Terror Nullius, from political art collective Soda_Jerk.

From around the world, radical films to be premiered include renowned Belgian artist David Claerbout’s The Pure Necessity, a re-drawn re-interpretation of The Jungle Book; 24 Frames, the final film by the late Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami; and British experimental artist Andrew Kötting’s Lek and the Dogs, inspired by the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a child who lived with wild dogs in Moscow, featuring Ivan himself.

Sari Braithwaite ([CENSORED]) and Soda_Jerk (Terror Nullius) will attend the Festival to present their films, with an extended Festival Q&A following the premiere of Terror Nullius (Thursday 7 June, 8.30pm).

The Festival will also host a Masterclass with Andrew Kötting (Lek and the Dogs) at CarriageWorks (Sunday, 17 June, 10am).

FILMS FROM CANNES

The Festival will screen ten films direct from the Cannes Film Festival.

Three films are in the running for the Palme d’Or: Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee’s remarkable new feature BlacKkKlansman; Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s fourth film since being banned from filmmaking in his home country, 3 Faces; and acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s The Wild Pear Tree.

Screening in Un Certain Regard are Rafiki, Kenya’s first Cannes film, a hip and colourful lesbian love story starring influential Kenyan media personality Patricia Amira; and Manto, by award-winning Indian actress-turned-director Nandita Das.

From the Director’s Fortnight are Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace, and Mirai, a visually magnificent animation from critically-acclaimed anime director Mamoru Hosoda.

Also premiering at Cannes 2018 are Pope Francis – A Man of His Word, from Oscar-nominated German filmmaker Wim Wenders; Whitney, Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald’s portrait of Whitney Houston; Zsófia Szilágyi’s One Day and, selected for Cinéfoundation, the Australian short film, Dots, directed by Eryk Lenartowicz.

Three films screening at Cannes are also contenders for the Festival’s Sydney Film Prize: Leave No Trace, BlacKkKlansman, and One Day.

FEATURES Supported By UNSW Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences & SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

The Festival will present new features from talented storytellers, from prize-winners of the world’s most prestigious festivals to exciting new works from emerging filmmakers.

Debut features from Australian filmmakers will be screened, including Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s tense and relevant debut feature A Vigilante starring Olivia Wilde; Stephen McCallum’s high-octane thriller 1%, starring Matt Nable and Ryan Corr; Strange Colours, from Russian-born Australian director Alena Lodkina; and Jason Raftopoulos’ portrait of a very bad day for a working-class Melbournian dad, West of Sunshine.

Australian features also include the first ever Stan Original film – steamy psycho-thriller The Second, directed by Mairi Cameron, starring Rachael Blake and Susie Porter; and black comedy Brother’s Nest from brotherly director-stars Clayton Jacobson and Shane Jacobson (Kenny).

Also screening are intelligent spy film Beirut starring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike; gripping legal drama The Children Act, starring Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci; and darkly funny drama The Kindergarten Teacher, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Gael García Bernal.

Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix stars in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, alongside Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara and Jack Black. Phoenix also leads the bloody thriller You Were Never Really Here, which won him the Best Actor prize at Cannes.

New films from acclaimed directors include Cannes-selected 3 Faces (directed Jafar Panahi), Manto (directed by Nandita Das) and The Wild Pear Tree (directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan); Venice-winner Foxtrot from Samuel Maoz; Oscar-nominated The Insult (directed by Ziad Doueiri); Mektoub My Love: Canto Uno, Abdellatif Kechiche’s sensual follow-up to his Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Colour; and Golden Bear winner, Touch Me Not (directed by Adina Pintilie).

Stories from the literary world will be screened including romantic comedy Juliet, Naked based on Nick Hornby’s popular novel and starring Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd; a sultry take on Anton Chekhov’s classic play The Seagull, starring Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan and Elisabeth Moss; and thrilling drama The Wife, featuring Glenn Close as a wife sacrificing her own talent for her Nobel Prize for Literature-winning husband.

Award-winning films from Sundance Film Festival will screen, including Audience Award winners The Guilty from Gustav Möller; Searching, starring Debra Messing, John Cho and Joseph Lee; and Turkish comedy-drama Butterflies, winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize.

Tales of contemporary youth include Skate Kitchen, featuring Jaden Smith; Ogata Takaomi’s The Hungry Lion, and smart comedy Tyrel, featuring Jason Mitchell, Michael Cera, Christopher Abbott (Piercing, SFF 2018) and Caleb Landry Jones

INTERNATIONAL DOCS

True Australian stories include world premiere documentary Wik vs Queensland, chronicling the High Court of Australia’s historic granting of native title to the Wik People; and Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible, a portrait of acclaimed Australian film editor Jill Bilcock – award winner for Muriel’s Wedding, Moulin Rouge! and The Dressmaker.

Stories of women take centre stage in Half the Picture, with female filmmakers including Ava DuVernay, Lena Dunham, and Sam Taylor-Johnson discussing Hollywood’s gender disparity problem; and On Her Shoulders, following a courageous woman who escapes ISIS captivity and becomes a United Nations activist.

Icons across fashion and design are brought to the screen in McQueen, a vibrant portrait of the late UK fashion designer Alexander McQueen; New Zealand director Pietra Brettkelly’s Yellow is Forbidden, following Chinese designer Guo Pei, best known for Rihanna’s iconic 27kg Met Gala dress; and Kusama – Infinity, a colourful look into the world of legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Other highlights include That Summer, created from long-lost footage from cult documentary Grey Gardens; Grand Jury Prize for Documentary winner at Sundance Of Fathers and Sons, Syrian documentarian Talal Derki’s follow-up to his Sundance winner The Return to Homs; and Special Jury Prize for Documentary winner at Sundance Three Identical Strangers, the incredible story of three strangers who discover they are identical triplets separated at birth.

A panel of Australian women filmmakers will discuss gender discrimination in the Australian film industry at Half the Picture in Australia (Sunday, 10 June, 4:15pm) following the premiere of Half the Picture.

SCREENABILITY

Returning to the Festival is Screenability, an exciting platform for screen practitioners with disability in partnership with Create NSW and the Department of Family and Community Services.

Curated by Guest Programmer Sofya Gollan, six cutting edge works will be showcased: features The Sign for Love and Stuttering – My Constant Companion, and short films Broken, Intimate Encounters 20 Years On, Tip of My Tongue, and To Know Him – all by filmmakers with disability.

Attending the Festival to introduce their films will be: Australian filmmakers with disability Stevie Cruz-Martin (Broken), Dieter Knierim (Intimate Encounters 20 Years On), and Samia Halabi (Tip Of My Tongue), and Israeli filmmakers with disability Elad Cohen and Iris Ben Moshe (The Sign for Love), and Austria’s Birgit Gohlke and Petra Nickel (Stuttering – My Constant Companion).

These guests will also discuss opportunities for filmmakers with disability at a Meet the Filmmakers session at AFTRS (Saturday, 16 June, 4:15pm). All Screenability filmmaker introductions and Q&As will be Auslan interpreted.

For the second year, the Festival maintains its inclusion policy, with audio described and open captioned screenings, and a relaxed screening (Maya the Bee: The Honey Games on 17 June, 1:00pm) to complement the Festival’s program – which includes over 80 English-subtitled films.

FESTIVAL VENUES

HOYTS Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park has been added to the Festival’s wide Sydney footprint. The venue will feature a specially selected line-up of family films, as well as Screenability. The Festival will also return to the State Theatre, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Event Cinemas George Street, Art Gallery of NSW, the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Randwick Ritz, Casula Powerhouse, SFF Outdoor Screen at Pitt Street Mall, and the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall.

The Festival’s outdoor screen, SFFTV @ Pitt St returns to Pitt St Mall between 8am and 10pm during the Festival.

Audiences can catch trailers for must-see Festival films and red carpet footage on the giant, double-sided screen.  Also screening: an eye-popping international animated shorts showcase curated by the Festival’s Animation Programmer Malcolm Turner.

Nine Festival feature-length films will screen at Sydney Film Festival’s newest venue Hoyts Entertainment Quarter Cinemas, 27 at Randwick’s Ritz Cinema, 10 at Casula Powerhouse in Sydney’s south west, and 31 at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne for audiences on Sydney’s North Shore.

LEXUS AUSTRALIA SHORT FILM FELLOWSHIP

For the third year, the Festival’s Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship will award four filmmakers the largest cash fellowship (AU$200,000 annually) for short film in Australia. On Tuesday 12 June, the four Fellows will be announced, selected from 20 shortlisted Australian filmmakers by a jury chaired by actress Marta Dusseldorp.

Respected across stage and screen, Dusseldorp is best known for Australian television drama series A Place to Call Home and Janet King. Joining her will be Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley, Lexus Australia’s Vin Naidoo, Australian producer Greer Simpkin (Sweet Country) and President of the Australian Directors’ Guild Samantha Lang.

Once announced, the fellows will commence production of their films, which will premiere at the 66th Sydney Film Festival in 2019.  The Fellowship is a partnership between Lexus Australia and Sydney Film Festival.

The Festival will also host the world premieres of the 2017 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship Fellows: Lara Köse (Kaya), Emily Avila (Fitting), Goran Stolevski (My Boy Oleg), and Thomas Baricevic (The Coin), supported by Lexus Australia.

SHORT FILM AWARDS

Ten finalists in the Dendy Awards, Australia’s longest running short film competition, now in its 49th year, will also screen over two sessions on 16 and 17 June. Three prize winners: The Dendy Live Action Short Award, The Rouben Mamoulian Award and the Yoram Gross Animation Award, will be announced at the Festival’s Closing Night, together with the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award.

EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM

In partnership with European Film Promotion and Screen International Sydney Film Festival will present Europe! Voices of Women in Film: a program of 10 new films from vital European women filmmakers.

From Germany to Finland, and Kosovo to Georgia, Europe! Voices of Women in Film shines a spotlight on talented women filmmakers.

The program is enriched by eight industry guests from across the continent, who will introduce their films and take part in a public talk: In Conversation with European Women Filmmakers at The Hub (Sunday, 10 June, 1:30pm), examining the industry gender gap.

In attendance to present their films to Festival audiences will be: Swedish filmmaker Isabella Eklöf (Holiday), acclaimed Dutch director Nanouk Leopold and producer Stienette Bosklopper (Cobain), Swedish actress-director Fanni Metelius (The Heart), Austrian filmmaker Katharina Muckstein (L’Animale), Finnish filmmaker Virpi Suutari (Entrepreneur), Georgia’s Ana Urushadze (Scary Mother), Kosovar filmmaker Blerta Zeqiri (The Marriage), and Polish director Jagoda Szelc (Tower. A Bright Day.).

YOUTH

Sydney Film Festival’s Youth Pass provides cheaper tickets for film lovers aged 18-24. Festival films for young people cost just $72 for a bundle of six-tickets, and tickets for under 17s are just $13.  The Festival’s new partnership with membership platform for teens aged 15–19, Playwave (playwave.com.au) provides additional access to discounted tickets.

FAMILY

The Family Films program returns with six films screening at the Festival in daytime sessions over the weekend. Teenagers will enjoy the world’s first movie inspired by an Instagram feed, Skate Kitchen, about a crew of all-girl skateboarders in New York and featuring millennial icon Jaden Smith; The Changeover, a film from New Zealand starring Timothy Spall and Lucy Lawless; and Dressage, winner of the Jury Award at the Berlinale’s Generation Section.

Kids and adults will love this program equally, designed to bring festival-quality feature-length films suitable for a variety of ages, such as Oscar-nominated animation The Breadwinner, and family adventure Maya the Bee: The Honey Games, voiced by an all-star Australian cast including Richard Roxburgh, The Umbilical Brothers’ David Collins and Shane Dundas, and Justine Clarke.

ANIMATION

The Animation Showcase returns to the Festival with two special events, curated by specialist Malcolm Turner. Short animated gems from all around the world can be found within the International Animation Showcase, and the wicked Animation After Dark Program will showcase animated films with a twisted charm. Short films for animation fans of all ages will also screen for free at Pitt Street Mall.

SOUNDS ON SCREEN

Sounds on Screen covers everything from kick-ass rock star Joan Jett to Oscar-winning Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, celebrating the stories of inspiring music and musicians through a selection of six films.

Screenings include Bad Reputation, the fascinating life story of rock and roll icon Joan Jett from famed music video director Kevin Kerslake; Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, an exquisite portrait of the seasoned Japanese composer; I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story, a coming-of-age documentary about the intense love of boybands; Australian journalist Travis Beard’s fascinating documentary RocKabul following Afghanistan’s first metal band District Unknown; Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney; and Steve Loveridge’s Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.

Following the Australian premiere of I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story, a Boys II Girlz Party (Saturday, 9 June, 2018) will pump classic pop hits across generations, from The Jackson 5 to One Direction, at The Festival Hub.

THE BOX SET

The first two episodes of Australian director Robert Connolly’s highly anticipated series Deep State – with a stellar cast including Mark Strong, Joe Dempsie, and Karima McAdams – will have their Australian Premiere at the Festival. Robert Connolly will introduce his gritty espionage thriller, which will be seen first by Festival-goers in Australia before screening on SBS in August. The series is currently screening internationally on FOX.

ESSENTIAL KAURISMÄKI

The Sydney Film Festival’s retrospective program Essential Kaurismäki: Selected by David Stratton, gives audiences a chance to see 10 films by the great, off-beat Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, from Crime and Punishment (1983) to Le Havre (2011).

CLASSICS RESTORED

Six restored films will give audiences the opportunity to see cinema classics the way they were intended, including award-winning Australian filmmaker Gillian Armstrong’s My Brilliant Career (1979), starring Judy Davis and Sam Neill; a digital restoration of My 20th Century (1988), by Sydney Film Festival 2017 Official Competition Winner lldikó Enyedi; and German masterpiece The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) by Golden Globe-nominated filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Also screening will be winner of the 1985 César (French Oscar) for Best French Language Film God’s Gift, by iconic Burkinabé filmmaker Gaston Kaboré; a superb 35mm restoration of A Brighter Summer Day, Taiwanese New Wave filmmaker Edward Yang’s masterpiece about turf wars, rock ’n’ roll and sexual awakening in Taiwan, 1960; and Kathryn Bigelow’s prophetic sci-fi noir Strange Days (1995), about virtual reality in a world gone wild.

FIRST NATIONS

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, together with the Festival, presents First Nations: A Celebration. The program will showcase new documentaries and short films by First Nation filmmakers from across Australia and around the world, alongside From Little Things Big Things Grow, a retrospective of short films funded by Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department.

New Australian First Nation documentaries to screen are: Finke: There & Back, following one of the world’s longest and most dangerous off-road motorsports races; Grant Saunders’ autobiographical journey Teach a Man to Fish, produced by Tom Zubrycki; and Wik vs Queensland, chronicling the High Court of Australia’s historic granting of native title to the Wik People.

First Nations: A Celebration will also screen new short films from emerging Indigenous talent, including Hunter Page-Lochard’s Djali, Tyson Mowarin’s Undiscovered Country, and Yulibidyi – Until the End, co-directed by Curtis Taylor.

The Retrospective (From Little Things Big Things Grow) includes 19 outstanding short films from 15 filmmakers, across four showcases that span 25 years of Indigenous Australian filmmaking: From Sand to Celluloid, Shifting Sands, Crossing Tracks, and Dreaming In Motion.  Shorts by acclaimed directors include Warwick Thornton’s Payback and Mimi, Ivan Sen’s Tears and Wind, Wayne Blair’s Black Talk, Richard Frankland’s No Way to Forget and Harry’s War, and Wesley Enoch’s Grace.

Indigenous Australian filmmakers Dylan River (Finke: There & Back), Grant Saunders (Teach a Man to Fish), and Dean Gibson (Wik vs Queensland), as well as various filmmakers from across the Retrospective, will attend as guests to introduce their films.

Former funders and filmmakers to discuss 25 years of industry change at the 25 Years of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department talk at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sunday, 17 June, 3:45pm).

FOCUS ON ITALY

The Festival presents Focus on Italy, screening a strong selection of six Italian films demonstrating the creativity and culture of Italian storytellers, in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive Multimediali, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Sydney.

Top Italian films selected to screen include: A Ciambra, Executive Produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese; winner of the Horizons Award for Best Film at Venice, Nico, 1988, chronicling the final years of legendary The Velvet Underground singer Nico; winner of Best Italian Film at Venice Beautiful Things, charming buddy comedy Friends By Chance; The Ark of Disperata, from award-winning director Edoardo Winspeare; and Laura Bispuri’s Daughter of Mine.

Attending the Festival as guests will be Italian director Laura Bispuri (Daughter of Mine), screenwriter Alessandro Valenti (The Ark of Disperata), and multihyphenate creative Giorgio Ferrero (Beautiful Things).

FREAK ME OUT

Sydney Film Festival’s terrifying Freak Me Out program will visit The Randwick Ritz for the first time for a special sneak peek of cyberpunk-horror action thriller Upgrade, from Australian genre maestro Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious). The Australian Premiere will be introduced by Whannell, who will also discuss his career at a free talk at The Hub (Saturday, 9 June, 2:00pm).

The program of seven weird and whacked-out films, curated by Richard Kuipers, also includes The Field Guide to Evil, a foray into global folklore’s darkest corners by the creators of The ABCs of Death; zingy punk rock slasher The Ranger; and Brazilian arthouse werewolf drama Good Manners.

Richard Kuipers will discuss all things freaky at a free Talk alongside Freak Me Out filmmakers at Dendy Newtown (Saturday, 16 June, 7:30pm) presented by the University of Sydney, before the screening of The Field Guide to Evil.

THE HUB

The Festival Hub at Town Hall is a 360-degree Festival experience, with filmmaker talks, panels, parties, and a world-class virtual reality (VR) program.  Curated by the brilliant VR collective BADFAITH, the program includes a selection of incredible experiences from the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

Open to the public all nights, and select days from 7-17 June, The Hub will feature a Happy Hour special for the first time at its pop up bar between 4:30pm and 6pm on weekdays, with drinks from Archie Rose Distilling Co., Eden Road Wines and Young Henrys.  Discount tickets to Festival films ($10) can also be snapped up to selected screenings at the Hub Box Office daily.

All events at The Hub are FREE, besides VR sessions, with the exception of the FREE Terrachi experience.

VIRTUAL REALITY AT THE HUB

Artist Shaun Gladwell and producer Leo Faber from collective BADFAITH have curated a VR program of 17 highly immersive, world-class VR films across seven packages. With incredible Australian works alongside selections from prominent film festivals around the world, the films will expand imaginations with music-making robots, ceremonial bush-punk performances in the Outback, and an astral journey through space alongside NASA astronauts.

Program highlights include Isle of Dogs VR, a step inside the miniature world of Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion film, from Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program; and the World Premiere of Storm Riders, a boundary-breaking film from BADFAITH for SBS, featuring two female Muslim skateboarders on Bondi Beach, harking back to Shaun Gladwell’s iconic artwork Storm Sequence.

All VR experiences are 15+ and cost $25 per person, except FREE experience TerraChi, and Coral and I and Greenland Melting which cost $15 per person.

TALKS

The heart and soul of the Festival are the filmmakers and guests, whose wide range of knowledge, skills, talents and points of view come together to create films that open a window into other worlds and experiences.  The FREE Festival Talks create a space for audiences, filmmakers and industry professionals to progress a dialogue about the important topics and issues of the year, addressed in Festival films.

Rising New Zealand stars Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami (The Breaker Upperers) will be part of a Meet the Filmmakers talk in the Treasury Room at Town Hall (Saturday, 9 June, 4:00pm).

Australian director Benjamin Gilmour, lead actor Sam Smith and producer John Maynard (Jirga) will participate in an Extended Q&A in the Treasury Room (Saturday, 9 June, 2:00pm) discussing the extraordinary story of how the film was made.

Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Samui Song) will join a cast of Australian film writers to discuss the worldwide obsession with cinema in the Treasury Room (Thursday, 14 June, 6:00pm).

The Festival will also host a Masterclass with British experimental artist Andrew Kötting (Lek and the Dogs) at Carriageworks (Sunday, 17 June, 10am), discussing his creative process.

Following the premiere of his film, Australian director Richard Todd and transplant recipient Holly Ralph (Dying to Live) will participate in an extended Festival Q&A in the Treasury Room discussing issues surrounding their film, examining why Australia is lagging behind in organ and tissue donation.

Before the screening of The Field Guide to Evil at Dendy Newtown, Richard Kuipers will discuss all things freaky alongside Freak Me Out filmmakers at a free Talk (Saturday, 16 June, 7:30pm) presented by the University of Sydney.

Taking place at AFTRS will be an Auslan interpreted Meet the Filmmakers session with Israeli directors Elad Cohen and Iris Ben Moshe (The Sign For Love), discussing opportunities for filmmakers with disability (Saturday, 16 June, 4:15pm).

Following the premiere of Half the Picture, a panel of Australian women filmmakers will discuss gender discrimination in the Australian film industry in The Treasury Room (Sunday, 10 June, 4:15pm).

FILMMAKER TALKS WITH VIVID IDEAS

As part of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas; Vivid Ideas and Sydney Film Festival present five Filmmaker Talks including Extended Q&As, In Conversation events and panels.

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Adam Marshall said, “Sydney Film Festival is a key cultural event on the NSW Events Calendar and takes place annually against the backdrop of Vivid Sydney, further amplifying the city’s profile as a creative hub at a time when it shines under the global spotlight. I encourage all film lovers to start planning their trip to Sydney to experience these exciting events.”

Talks with Australian guests include genre maestro and Saw director Leigh Whannell (Saturday, 9 June, 2:00pm) discussing his latest project Upgrade, screening in the program’s Freak Me Out strand, as well as his career to date; and highly political artist duo Soda_Jerk, who will engage in an extended Q&A (Thursday 7 June, 8:30pm) following the screening of their blistering cinema mash-up film Terror Nullius.

Eight emerging women directors and industry trailblazers from Europe will participate in the public talk In Conversation with European Women Filmmakers (Sunday 10 June, 1:30pm), a vital discussion on the industry gender gap.

Screen Producers Australia’s Matthew Deaner and Sandy George will lead a panel of industry specialists in discussing the impacts of pirating and streaming, and how audiences can keep up (Friday, 8 June, 4:00pm)

Following the screening of the final program in the Festival’s celebration of films funded by Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, Indigenous Australian filmmakers Dylan River (Finke: There & Back), Grant Saunders (Teach a Man to Fish), and Dean Gibson (Wik vs Queensland) will join former funders and filmmakers will discuss 25 years of industry change (Sunday, 17 June, 3:45pm).

FREE IAN MCPHERSON MEMORIAL LECTURE

David Stratton, former director of the Sydney Film Festival (1966 – 1983), film critic and author, will be in conversation with Australian director-producer Robert Connolly, for the Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture at The Festival Hub (Saturday, 16 June, 2:00pm).

Best known for directing Balibo, Paper Planes and The Slap, and producing The Boys, the experienced Australian filmmaker will discuss his career to date, and the much-anticipated second season of Deep State, starring Mark Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones), and Karima McAdams (Vikings). The first two episodes will have their Australian Premiere as part of The Box Set.

FREE PARTIES AT THE HUB

Following the Australian Premiere of art collective Soda_Jerk’s cinematic mash-up film Terror Nullius, a Mad Mix Party will kick on at The Hub (Thursday, 7 June, 8:30pm), with DJs and VJs churning out mashed up tunes and remixed found footage.

The Boys II Girlz Party (Saturday, 9 June, 2018) will pump classic pop hits across generations following the Australian premiere of I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story, with a karaoke selector offering everything from The Jackson 5 to One Direction, Take That to *NSYNC.

To celebrate Spike Lee’s new film BlacKkKlansman, Sydney’s best DJs will fire up the dancefloor at Spike’s Juke Joint (Saturday, 16 June, 8:30pm), drawing from five decades of the much-loved filmmaker’s soundtracks, from funk to soul, disco to Blaxploitation music, for a post-film boogie.

The full Sydney Film Festival 2018 program can be found online at sff.org.au.

Sydney Film Festival runs 6 – 17 June 2018.
Tickets for Sydney Film Festival 2018 are on sale now. Please call 1300 733 733 or visit
sff.org.au for more information.

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