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A sneak peek at Sydney Film Festival 2016

Nick Dent

New films starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Ethan Hawke and Greta Gerwig are among the screenings just announced for the Sydney Film Festival, this June 8-19.

Auteur directors Laurie Anderson, Chantal Akerman, Terrence Davies, Werner Herzog, Richard Linklater, Alexander Sukharov and Jean-Marc Vallée are represented in the sneak-peek line-up revealed from Nashen Moodley’s fifth Sydney Film Festival.

Time Out has sifted through the information to bring you the following ten highlights…

A haunted apartment thriller from Iran

Babk Anvari’s Under the Shadow, screening as part of the Freak Me Out section of the SFF, has drawn comparisons with The Babadook. As a mother and daughter struggle to cope in war-torn Tehran of the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home. Acquired by Netflix, the film has been taken as an allegory for female oppression.

The final documentary by the great avant-garde filmmaker Chantal Akerman

Belgium-born Akerman died last year but not before completing a project that weighed on her mind for decades. No Home Movie is a portrait of her relationship with her mother, a holocaust survivor whose chronic anxiety shaped Akerman’s art.

The new film from director of Dallas Buyers Club

Jake Gyllenhaal is getting some of the best reviews of his career for Demolition, the new comedic drama from Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild, Dallas Buyers Club). An investment banker (Gyllenhaal) struggles with the tragic loss of his wife by writing lengthy letters of complaint to a vending machine company. Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper co-star.

Greta Gerwig, Julianne Moore and Ethan Hawke in a sparkling New York comedy

Rebecca Miller’s Maggie's Plan is a complicated love triangle in the best Woody Allen tradition. A career advisor (Gerwig) is about to embark on single motherhood when she finds love with an anthropology professor (Hawke) who happens to be married to a demanding academic (Julianne Moore).

This year’s Oscar-winning documentary short, about honour killings in Pakistan

Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who has been announced as a festival guest, ‘A Girl in the Rover: The Price of Forgiveness’ is a powerful short documentary about Saba Qaiser, who fell in love, eloped, was hunted down by her father and uncle, shot in the head, stuffed into a bag and tossed into a river. Amazingly, she survived.

The Jeffrey Weiner sexting scandal dissected

Weiner, from first-time filmmakers Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman, is a doco about former congressman Anthony Weiner and the sexting scandals that brought his New York mayoral campaign to an ignominious end. It won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance in January.

The new film from the director of Once

Musical comedy-drama Sing Street by John Carney is about the struggles of growing up in 1980s Dublin. A boy attending a tough inner-city school sets out to impress a girl by forming a band. With music from ’80s bands like Duran Duran and the Cure, it has being compared to Alan Parker’s The Commitments.

Thomas (The Hunt, The Celebration) Vinterberg’s autobiographical effort

Vinterberg grew up living in a Danish commune in the 1970s, experience he draws upon for The Commune, a drama about a family that inherits a large house and decides to fill it with friends and artistic types.

An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film

Tobias Lindholm’s A War recounts the moral dilemma of a Danish commander (Pilou Asbaek) stationed in Afghanistan and a decision that has grave consequences, not least for the wife and three children waiting at home for him. It’s the follow-up to Lindholm’s A Hijacking.

Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused

Linklater’s Boyhood was the sensation of the 2014 Sydney Film Festival; now the festival gets Everybody Wants Some!!, in which Texas college freshmen enjoy a weekend of partying prior to the start of semester. Full of roughhousing and banging ’80s music, it’s set to be a crowd favourite.

Tickets are now on sale for these films and more. The full program is launched on Wednesday May 11. 

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