The greatest hits of Martin Scorsese. Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. An adaptation of a little-known Jane Austen novella where Kate Beckinsale plays “the Walter White of polite British society.” A Polish-romance-comedy-horror-vampire-mermaid-musical.

These are just some of the things on offer at this year’s Sydney Film Festival screening 8-19 June at Event Cinemas George St, the State Theatre, the Hayden Orpheum and any number of other filmic icons around the city.

There are hundreds of films and dozens of premieres to churn through, so here’s a few of the highlights, though the program (some of which is already sold out) is worth perusing in full.


Captain Fantastic

A hit at Sundance and Cannes, Viggo Mortensen plays an unconventional dad to say the least, raising his kids in the wilderness and quickly being forced to confront reality after tragedy strikes. One of many entries that might just translate well outside the festival circuit, Radcliffe’s Swiss Army Man will also be screening along with Maggie’s Plan, Certain Women, The BFG, Richard Linklater’s throwback to 80s college life Everybody Wants Some!!, Demolition, the Chet Baker-biopic Born to Be Blue starring Ethan Hawke and a Tom Hiddleston double in High-Rise and I Saw The Light.


Focus on Ireland

Following a strong reception for Irish-Australian co-production Strangerland and the brilliant folklore-inspired animation Song of the Sea at last year’s festival, this year there will be a special focus on Irish cinema in a short, specially curated season labelled ‘From Rebels to New Romantics.’ Documentary The Queen of Ireland will chronicle the life of Irish drag queen and LGBTIQ rights activist Panti Bliss, while John Carney’s Sing Street pays homage to much-loved pop-rock and a special screening of Liam Neeson’s classic Michael Collins will mark the film’s 20th anniversary and the centenary of the Easter Rising.


Freak Me Out showcase & The Lure

‘The Lure’ being the aforementioned vampire musical/genre-smorgasbord remarkable for its sheer tenacity, each year the Sydney Film Festival features at least one supremely unconventional comedy-horror mash-up. In the best tradition of Stage Fright and Deathgasm, the latter of which was a huge audience hit last year and went on to successful midnight screenings around the country, the Sydney Film Festival has secured this distinctly original mermaid caper along with Tyler MacIntyre’s Patchwork to thrill horror fanatics.


Essential Scorsese

Each year, Festival stalwart David Stratton curates a selection of films in a series of special presentations and for 2016 he’s chosen 10 of Martin Scorsese’s iconic contributions to cinema. Featuring classics such as ‘Mean Streets,’ ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Raging Bull,’ along with my personal favourite, ‘The Age of Innocence,’ there may be one or two or even more you haven’t seen yet and its well worth heading to the Art Gallery of NSW to check them out.



Selling fast, Weiner is the story of disgraced US Congressman “Anthony ‘sexting scandal’ Weiner” and his subsequent run for New York Mayor.  Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Sundance, ‘Weiner’ will screen alongside Life, Animated, depicting the life of Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who develops an affection for and learns to communicate through Disney films. Featuring no shortage of local fare, Baxter and Me, a film by and about my university lecturer Gillian Leahy will explore her two greatest passions, dogs and cinema, and will feature as one of 10 films competing for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary.

For more information and to purchase tickets check out the Sydney Film Festival website