Grab the popcorn – Sydney Film Festival (SFF) has finally dropped its full 70th anniversary program. With more than 230 films from 67 countries including 37 world premieres and 123 Australian premieres, there’s surely something to excite film fans of all candy-stripes.
A day ahead of the festival opening on June 7, SFF has sweetened the deal, announing nine new films that will make their Australian premiere. This includes 2023 Palme d’Or award winner Anatomy of a Fall, Sundance 2023 winner The Persian Version, Todd Haynes’ May December, a playful exploration of an American scandal starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, and, direct from Cannes Competition 2023, Club Zero starring Mia Wasikowska as a teacher leading a conscious eating movement at a boarding school.
The 2023 Festival opens with the Australian Premiere of The New Boy, a captivating new film by Cannes Caméra d'Or winning Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton, and produced by Dirty Films and Scarlett Pictures. The Cannes-selected feature tells a story of spirituality and survival set in 1940s Australia, starring Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair and newcomer Aswan Reid. Director Warwick Thornton and producer Kath Shelper will attend opening night to present their film.
The bumper line-up also features the Australian premieres of new films including Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City; Celine Song’s highly anticipated Past Lives; films direct from the Cannes Competition by masters Aki Kaurismäki, Wim Wenders, and Kore-eda Hirokazu; actor Alice Englert’s directorial feature debut Bad Behaviour; and many more.
The heart of the Festival, the Sydney Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall is back in action this year. Keep that post-film buzz going with filmmaker talks, panels, themed parties, happy hour deals on drinkies and special events paired with screenings to celebrate cinema. For example, the Film Tracks Hairspray Party (Jun 8) is an after-screening party featuring DJs spinning ’60s tracks, go-go dancers and a photo booth celebrating John Waters’ 1988 cult classic (nope, not the one with John Travolta) which is screening as part of the Classics Restored programming arm.
A retrospective of visionary filmmaker Jane Campion is another hotly anticipated part of the program, which includes the premiere of the doco Jane Campion, The Cinema Woman (Jun 10). We’ve covered everything you need to know about the retrospective over here.
Two new Australian documentaries make their Sydney debuts at SFF. Rachel’s Farm follows actor-director Rachel Ward (Palm Beach, SFF 2019) as she revitalises her Northern NSW beef farm using sustainable farming practices. In The Last Daughter Wiradjuri woman Brenda Matthews documents her search to uncover the truth about her government-ordered abduction as a child, and find her white foster family. Both Brenda Matthews and Rachel Ward will attend the Festival to present their documentaries.
New Zealand feature comedy Red, White & Brass, directed by Damon Fepulea'i and executive produced by Taika Waititi, it's based on the true story of Tongan rugby superfans who tricked their way to the Rugby World Cup by volunteering to be the marching band, despite having never played. We’re also looking forward to seeing Penélope Cruz starring in L’immensità as a mother with marital troubles, alongside her child embracing his gender identity in 1970s Rome.
The highly anticipated documentary Subject explores the impact of documentaries on their on-screen participants and raises important questions about the responsibility documentarians have towards their participants. It includes those involved in high-profile documentaries The Staircase, The Wolfpack, Capturing the Friedmans, Hoop Dreams and The Square.
The celebration of cinema is spreading across various Sydney cinemas and stunning buildings including the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Newtown, Palace Central, Palace Norton Street, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Ritz Cinemas Randwick, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Australian Museum and Art Gallery of NSW.
The 2023 Festival runs from June 7-18. Tickets and flexipasses are on sale now. Visit sff.org.au or call 1300 733 733 for more information or to book.