It’s been a long time since we sat in the dark communally with a bucket full of popcorn watching movies in a room that isn’t our own. Which is why we’re super-pumped to get back into cinemas across the city for this year for the 68th Sydney Film Festival, and especially the lush surrounds of the State Theatre.
Beaming brilliant local and international films on the big screen from November 3-14 (then online november 21-21) the arrival of this program – after two postponements – feels particularly sweet. While you will still be able to stream a v cool selection online too, festival director Nashen Moodley was itching to get us back together. “It was really important for us is to return to cinema,” he says. “That was something we felt was very much needed and desired, both by the audience and by filmmakers.”
He’s hugely excited to present a homegrown hero on opening night, Here Out West, which presents stories from eight emerging writers from Western Sydney, and is directed by five of the most kick-ass women directors in the country in Ana Kokkinos, Leah Purcell (who also stars in, wrote and directed The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson in the official competition), Fadia Abboud, Lucy Gaffy, and Julie Kalceff. Moodley says. “It was one of my favourite moments of the entire selection when I got to call the producers to let them know that it was going to be the opening night film and after the last several months it’s a wonderful showcase for these very talented young writers and, of course, these incredible directors. It’s going to be a great night.”
The jam-packed program stacks in everything from huge blockbusters like the Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet-led Dune, to Cannes darlings like Raw director Julia Ducournau’s even wilder follow-up Titane, and the sublime Petite Maman, the new movie from Portrait of a Lady on Fire director Céline Sciamma. You can go from searing Aussie climate change doco Burning, to Riley Keogh and Taylour Paige in tweetstorm film Zola, to kooky comedies like Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch wrapping the fest on closing night.
“There are a few more blockbusters than usual this year, but I think that’s a really great thing, because it shows a range of excellent cinema,” Moodley says. “We want films that play at the festival to go on to have a rich life afterwards and highlight the best films we possibly can.”
Read on for a few of Moodley’s top picks, and find more details about the festival here.