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Photograph: Time Out

Here are the best film festivals to catch to this summer

Calling all movie buffs: here are the coolest cinematic showcases awaiting your popcorn dollars

Written by
Stephen A Russell
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Behold, the Great Unlock is upon us and we are spoiled rotten for film festivals to keep us in the dark while opening up a window to the world. 

The grand dame of them all opens in November, when the Sydney Film Festival takes over a bunch of our best cinemas, and you can warm up for that movie marathon with the sun-kissed flicks of the Italian Film Festival from the end of October or go off-world with the SciFi Film Festival

Read on for more celebrations of big screen dreams. 

RECOMMENDED: Which Sydney Film Festival pick is right for you?

The best Sydney film festivals

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As curated by the Japan Foundation, Sydney – a non-profit organisation that promotes Japanese culture – the festival will unspool in the nation’s capital first, playing at Palace Cinemas Norton Street, Chauvel, Central and Verona from November 25 to December 5. Opening night movie Hokusai brings art history to dramatic life with this rollicking biopic about arguably Japan’s most famous artist of all time, Katsushika Hokusai. If docos are your thing, you can also catch Sumodo ~ The Successors of Samurai, which follows two wrestlers, as they prepare to throwdown on the legendary stage of Ryōgoku Kokugikan.

Elsewhere in JFF, you can check out Japan’s Oscar submission for this year, True Mothers, critically acclaimed filmmaker Naomi Kawase’s emotionally fraught adoption drama, and director Miwa Nishikawa’s gripping Under the Open Sky, featuring an award-winning performance by Kōji Yakusho as an ex-yakuza who sets out to track down his long-lost mum after being released from prison. Thrill-seekers will get a kick from Masked Ward, a hospital-set hostage drama with a difference. If you like your mysteries with a supernatural bent, then delve into the darkness with The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window, featuring ghost-hunting detectives. And then there’s Al Amok, which has a touch of The Matrix about it as a powerful artificial intelligence goes berserk, forcing an IT whiz to go on the run as a suspected cyber terrorist. If you’re into anime, you’ll want to check out Masashi Andō and Masayuki Miyaji's directorial debut The Deer King, and the smog-filled steampunk dystopia of Poupelle of Chimney Town also looks really cool.

With all this and so much more to enjoy, you can check the full program here, and grab tickets for $20 a film ($18 concession or $16 for members of the Japan Foundation, Sydney), or splash out on an $85 five-film pass.

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