Ten top movies to see at Sydney Film Festival in 2024

From child-stealing monsters to romance against the odds in the Wild West, there’s plenty to love in this year’s stacked SFF program

Stephen A Russell
Peter Garrett and members of Midnight Oil stand around a burning newspaper
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line'

Radiating from the glittering State Theatre and beaming out to cinema screens across the city, the Sydney Film Festival is the jewel in the crown of the city’s cinematic scene. This June, it will shine that little bit brighter, when the members of one of Australia’s most beloved bands rock up to Opening Night

Director Paul Clarke traces the glorious highs and obligatory lows in Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line (screening on June 5, 9 & 14), kicking off eleven days of gold in the 71st SFF line-up – which features 97 films from 69 countries, including 28 world premieres. With so much to choose from, professional film fanatic Stephen A Russell has stepped in to narrow down your options with this nifty ten-deck. 

Critic's picks: The best movies to see at SFF

SFF 2024 - The Moogai
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'The Moogai'

The Moogai

Turning the true horror of the Stolen Generations into a monster movie, Cleverman co-creator Jon Bell has expanded his spooky short into a skin-crawling feature, which is up for SFF’s inaugural First Nations Award. Debuting at Sundance, it stars two total legends of Sydney’s creative community, Shari Sebbens and Meyne Wyatt, as married couple Sarah and Fergus, who’ve just had their second kid. When Sarah begins to have visions about bub being menaced by something terrifying, Fergus doesn’t believe her. 

Screening on June 8 & 9. Book here. (FYI: You might also be interested in the talk First Nations Films: A Global Perspective on June 9.) 

SFF 2024 - Kinds of Kindness
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'Kinds of Kindness'

Kinds of Kindness

Greek New Wave director Yorgos Lanthimos’ imaginative hit film Poor Things brought home four Oscars, including Best Director for him and Best Actress for star Emma Stone. They’ve teamed up again with Poor Things co-stars Margaret Qualley and Willem Dafoe, plus Euphoria’s Hunter Schaffer, The Menu’s Hong Chau and Killers of the Flower Moon’s Jesse Plemons in this triptych of short stories that’s sure to be wild, wonderful and aesthetically stunning.

Screening on June 8, 10 & 12. Book here

SFF 2024 - I Saw the TV Glow
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'I Saw the TV Glow'

I Saw the TV Glow

Exciting trans filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun’s follow-up to We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is one of the buzziest films on the internet right now. Debuting at the Berlin International Film Festival, this supernatural film from A24 is a trippy reverie that plays with the imagery of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twin Peaks, telling a refreshingly original story about teen identity and remaking oneself in a new light that will haunt your waking dreams. 

Screening on June 5, 8 & 13. Book here

SFF 2024 - The Outrun
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'The Outrun'

The Outrun 

Four-time Oscar nominee and Mary Queen of Scots star Saoirse Ronan adopts a Scottish accent again in this heart-rending film about finding grace in the cruel embrace of addiction. Adapted by German director Nora Fingscheidt from Scottish journalist Amy Liptrot’s bracing memoir, it follows her coming apart at the seams in London and reluctantly returning to her island home on Orkney. (Check out Time Out’s four-star review.)

Screening on June 5, 12 & 14. Book here

SFF 2024 - The Dead Don't Hurt
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'The Dead Don't Hurt'

The Dead Don’t Hurt

Viggo Mortensen (yes, he of The Lord of the Rings movies) co-stars with Phantom Thread lead Vicky Krieps in his second feature as writer, director and composer. Turning a feminist lens on the Western, he plays Danish immigrant Holger to Krieps’ headstrong French-Canadian Vivien, as they attempt to settle down in a frontier town riven with dangerous tension – and that’s before the Civil War crashes the party.  

Screening on June 6, 7 & 13. Book here

SFF 2024 - Dahomey
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'Dahomey'


If you love Marc Fennell’s podcast Stuff the British Stole and have been following the campaign for major museums to return their plundered goods, the latest eye-opener from Atlantics director Mati Diop will intrigue you. Narrated by the statue of a king nabbed by colonial French soldiers from the ancient African kingdom of Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin) it’s a thrilling blend of documentary and magical realism. (Check out Time Out’s four-star review.)

Screening on June 8, 9 & 11. Book here.

SFF 2024 - The Pool
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'The Pool'

The Pool

Sydney shines in The Final Quarter director Ian Darling’s latest documentary, which takes the plunge into the crystal-clear waters of the iconic Bondi Icebergs Pool. A beautifully shot portrait of both a beloved place and the people who frequent it, it invites you to hear from the regulars who show up from the crack of dawn until the sun goes down about why they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in the world. 

Screening on June 8, 9 & 15. Book here

SFF 2024 - Crossing
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'Crossing'


And Then We Danced director Levan Akin delivers one of the most luminous films you’ll see all year in this queer road movie of sorts that casts towering Georgian actor Mzia Arabuli as Lia, a woman haunted by the death of her sister. Forming an unlikely partnership with Lucas Kankava’s hapless young lad Achi, they press into the winding streets of Istanbul, teeming with stray cats, hoping to find her estranged niece.

Screening on June 5, 8 and 12. Book here.

SFF 2024 - All We Imagine As Light
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'All We Imagine As Light'

All We Imagine as Light

Award-winning filmmaker Payal Kapadia’s latest feature is the first Indian film to compete for the Palme d’Or, the top prize at Cannes, in thirty years. Following two nurses sharing an apartment in Mumbai, one is discombobulated by a gift from her husband who works overseas, while the other faces a religious gulf with her boyfriend. Will they find answers by the sea in this deftly hewn romantic drama?

Screening on June 13, 14 & 16. Book here

SFF 2024 - The Bikeriders
Photograph: Supplied/SFF | 'The Bikeriders'

The Bikeriders

In Hollywood’s new crime-thriller, Loving filmmaker Jeff Nichols harnesses the “vroom vroom” of Danny Lyon’s motorcycle club photography in 1960s America to conjure that Jimmy Dean daydream and Marlon Brando smoulder. Elvis star Austin Butler and Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer are on fire, with Max Max: Fury Road lead Tom Hardy caught in the middle as their increasingly bad-to-the-bone biker gang implodes. 

Screening on June 6, 8 and 11. Book here.

The 2024 Sydney Film Festival runs from June 5–16. Tickets are on sale now starting from $24.50, or snag a flexipass for discounts. Visit for more information and to book.

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