One of the best free things to do in Sydney is to see a movie at the Art Gallery of NSW. They offer year-round programs of screenings in support of their major exhibitions and they are always impeccably curated. Rare, odd and astonishing classics screen there routinely. The films screen on Wednesdays and Sundays in the comfortable Domain Theatre, down at the bottom of the building, and it’s recommended that you book your seat online, as they often fill up. To accompany the Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage exhibition they are presenting Cosmic Futures, a series of visionary Russian movies including works by the great Andrei Tarkovsky. Nobody does existential gloom quite like the Russians, and the movies on offer are some of the most powerful ever made. The films are free, except for the opening film on Sunday November 4: a special screening of the first Soviet sci-fi film, Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924), accompanied by a newly commissioned live score by acclaimed Sydney electronic artist, Lucy Cliché. Tickets are $12-$15. Aelita concerns a lowly Soviet worker who travels to Mars and leads a proletarian revolution; the film influenced the Fritz Lang film Metropolis. Tarkovsky (who died in 1986) is cinema’s metaphysical master, whose mesmerising work spawned an adjective, ‘Tarkovskian’. The gallery is screening three of his greatest films: Stalker (1979), in which a writer, a professor and their guide enter the ‘Forbidden Zone’, a desolate wasteland, to find the my
Crawl under the blankets with a glass of wine and settle in for another season of movies at the Entertainment Quarter in the Showring. The concept is irresistible – a large inflatable bed to snuggle into, food, drinks and a great movie to get your teeth into – but this year they're introducing a few innovations. They include Bottomless Popcorn sessions – with unlimited refills from the Bar – and cheap Grass Tickets, where you can bring your blanket and a picnic and enjoy your favourite movie under the stars for as little as $9 per head. Then there's the option to Dine in Bed. Mov’in Bed is partnering with the Rockpool Dining Group – Fratelli Fresh, Bavarian Bier Café and Burger Project – to offer food delivered straight to your bed, while the Bar will be serving beer, wine, bubbles, ice cream, candy and popcorn. The line-up of movies is a well curated as ever. Highlights include Ryan Gosling in the moon landing drama First Man; the department store girls of Ladies in Black; blockbuster comedy with Crazy Rich Asians and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again; and thrills with A Simple Favour and Bad Times at the El Royale. Hugh Jackman's musical hit from last year, The Greatest Showman, is screening in a special sing-a-long edition, and don't miss Gaga and Bradley Cooper in the acclaimed musical drama A Star Is Born. It wouldn't be Mov'in Bed without some great movies of yesteryear, and the season delivers with Miyazaki's immortal animated film Spirited Away, a 4K restoration of
The Japanese Film Festival returns in 2018 with a packed program of 30 features and one doco, all curated by the Japan Foundation, Sydney, a non-profit cultural organisation that works to promote Japanese culture abroad. This year, the festival will feature romantic detective mystery Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura, which many people are calling a live-action version of the Studio Ghibli classic Spirited Away. Another highlight of the program is the action-packed One Cut of the Dead, which is being touted as a cleverly disguised low-budget but high-concept take on the zombie comedy genre. Keep an eye out for Oh Lucy!, which stars Australian-born and Deadpool 2 cast member Shioli Kutsuna alongside Megan Mullally (Will and Grace) and Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbour). It tells the intriguing story of a lonely Japanese woman who awakens her alter ego in an English class taught by Hartnett. There’s also Yakiniku Dragon, which brings the award-winning 2008 play about a Korean immigrant family's experience in Japan. The film features a star-studded line-up including Jeon-eun Lee (Okja), Yoko Maki (The Grudge) and Yo Oizumi (Bread of Happiness). The festival will also be presenting a free classic film program at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Oct 3-31) which will feature influential works by cinematic masters from the Japanese Golden Age and New Wave cinema. JFF will play at Event Cinemas George Street from November 15 to 25.
Screening 15 fresh new releases, golden oldies and critically acclaimed alternative films, American Express Openair Cinemas offers movie fanatics much more than the average cinematic experience. From November 21-December 16, the new location of Metcalfe Park, Pyrmont (across the road from The Star) will be taken over by a packed program of live entertainment, dining, music and dog dates. Yes, that’s right, dogs. Proud puppy parents can snuggle up to their own wonder dogs while they quote the cue cards in Love Actually, thrill to Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born, or watch box office hits like Bohemian Rhapsody or Dirty Dancing. Purveyors of fine Italian cuisine, Salt Meats Cheese, will be be curating the menu throughout the season – woodfired pizzas, truffle pasta, cheesy arancini, salads and desserts. Beer will come by way of Urban Alley Brewery, there’ll be fine drops from Giesen Wines, refreshing fruity brews from Black Devil Cider plus Pimms aperitifs. Your American Express Card membership is your golden ticket to the exclusive lounge area. You’ll receive the VIP treatment, complete with a comfortable bean bag chair, blanket, movie snacks and the best view in the house. There’s also a tidy 15 per cent off selected tickets for members, plus access to the American Express Garden for sunset tipples.
Indigenous stories from around the world will screen as Winda Film Festival returns for a third year. Shorts and feature films from Australia, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Greenland, Norway, Venezuela, Peru and India are all part of the program. Opening the festival is the Australian premier of Canadian film Falls Around Her, written, directed and starring First Nations Canadian women, about a famous musician who returns to her home community only to find that her fame follows her home. Prolific Canadian First Nations actor Tantoo Cardinal, who has been in more than 120 films and television shows over her 40-year career, including Legends of the Fall, Dances With Wolves and Westworld, will attend the screening and give anacting masterclass during the festival. Another highlight is Canadian film Angelique's Isle. Set during the Lake Superior Copper Rush of 1845, it recounts the true story of a 17-year-old Anishinaabe woman who must heed her shaman grandmother’s messages in order to survive the harsh winter, as her husband succumbs to the power of the Windigo, the cannibal spirit. Screenings will take place at Event Cinemas George Street except for the free closing night event, which will be at an open-air cinema in Barangaroo. Akornatsinniitut – Tarratta Nunaanni’(Among Us – In the Land of Our Shadows), a sci-fi adventure for all ages that draws upon Greenlandic culture, myth, folklore and legends.
Cine Latino Film Festival returns to Sydney for its third year in 2018, with a schedule of 26 features, three docos, a special Argentinian film screening and a Cuban retrospective. The festival is presented by Palace Cinemas. The festival kicks off with a bang in the form of the Australian premiere of Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. This semi-autobiographical drama is set Mexico City in the early 1970s revolves around two domestic workers who help a single mother with her children. Cuarón based this story on his own upbringing during the political upheaval of 1970s Mexico as a show of affection for the women who raised him, and this personal story won this year’s Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Award. The director’s previous film, Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, earned him the Oscar for Best Director in 2013. If you can’t get enough of Cuarón, you’re in luck as his 2001 breakout film Y Tu Mamá También (And Your Mother Too) will close the festival. This is coming-of-age drama about two boys who take a road trip with an older woman holds the record for the highest box office opening in Mexican cinema history, and launched the careers of Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and Maribel Verdú. Also screening is Amalia la Secretaria (Amalia the Secretary), a Colombian romcom centering around an irritable office worker and the bond she forms with the bumbling maintenance man of her office building. Touching Costa Rican drama Violeta al Fin (Violeta At
There's nothing quite like a film under the stars in the beautiful surrounds at Belvedere Amphitheatre in Centennial Park. Settle back with friends and family for a movie and as always, the Moonlight Cinema food truck and bar can supply you with comestibles, but you're welcome to BYO food and drinks, too. This summer's programming has the usual mix of acclaimed Oscar hopefuls, kids' favourites and retro screenings to satisfy the nostalgic urges. Time Out is especially looking forward to The Favourite – the new film by the director of The Lobster that portrays the outrageous rivalry of two cousins in the court of England’s Queen Anne in the 18th century, with Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Green Book follows a distinguished African-American pianist (Mahershala Ali) as he’s chauffeured through redneck southern towns by a tough white New York City bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) in 1962. Mary, Queen of Scots pits Mary (Saoirse Ronan) and Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) against each other in a struggle for the throne of England. Meanwhile balls-out Will Ferrell-John C Reilly comedy Holmes and Watson has the former Step Brothers playing an idiotic Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, to Ralph Fiennes’ supervillain Moriarty. Widows promises to knock your socks off: Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki star in crime thriller about widows banding together to pull off their late husbands’ big heist. The director is Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave). We can also recommend G
Before Elisabeth Moss donned the red robes of the fiercely tenacious Offred in the award-winning SBS drama The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood wrote the dystopian world of Gilead into existence. Fans of this unsettling novel, the 1990 film adaptation and the 2017 television series will be well acquainted with the parable it tells of a society that has rejected human rights and is dominated by a group of classist, religious fanatics. While The Handmaid’s Tale was originally written 23 years ago, many will also be aware of how Atwood anchored this disturbing society in reality – perhaps doing a little prophesying – drawing from the problems seen in our own political and social context. In her 2019 talk at the Sydney Opera House, Atwood will discuss how fiction allows us to explore issues in our own society, merging the realms of critical debate and imagination. Her impressive body of work is a testament to the ideas she’ll present, so you’ll probably want to read-up and binge watch before the talk. When you catch up on The Handmaid’s Tale, your recommended reading/viewing list includes: historical murder mystery Alias Grace (which has become another acclaimed television series), The Edible Woman which challenges gender stereotypes and explores psychology, and the futuristic adventure romance Oryx and Crake.
Free outdoor movies return in January 2019 as the Little Darling Night Owls Kids Film Festival sets up roost on Darling Quarter’s Village Green for another year. There will be 17 nights of free movies, short films and live entertainment out on the green, with plenty of eateries close by for grabbing dinner. Arrive early to secure a prime position on the grass before live music, short films and two movie screenings kick off at 6pm each night. The movies this year are not limited to kids' flicks, although parents can safely bring the little ones along to screenings such as Pixar’s newest tearjerker, Coco; Paddington 2; the made-in Sydney The Lego Ninjago Movie and Peter Rabbit; or Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Older viewers can show up to the 'After-Hours' screenings on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8.30pm, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok, Ready Player One, Ocean’s 8, Pitch Perfect 3, The Big Sick, and the box office smash Black Panther. Closing night film is the stunning Aussie western Sweet Country – a film that packs a real punch. Hot tip: parking at the Darling Quarter is only $10 if you book a bay online with the Promo Code NIGHTOWL.
Now in its 28th year and bigger than ever, Flickerfest is both Australia's original open-air cinema and an annual distillation of the best short filmmaking in the world. More than 2,500 entries have been whittled down to a tight line-up of 100 short films for the festival at Bondi Pavilion. Flickerfest is the only short film festival in the country where prize winners obtain eligibility for consideration in both the Academy Awards and the BAFTAs. The event features glam Opening Night and Closing Night Parties, under the stars at Bondi Beach and a panoramic Pop Up Beach Bar. Both events are also pretty swell for celebrity spotting, if that's your bag. A highlight of Flickerfest every year is the Flickerfest trailer, which always riffs on a famous movie or star. Last year's trailer was a spin on 'Crocodile' Dundee, with Darren Gilshenan steeping into the shoes of Paul Hogan. Tickets are on sale soon. The 2019 Flickerfest season launches in Sydney January 11-20 before touring the rest of the country to 50+ venues.