PROGRAM LAUNCH: 25 FLICKS TO CATCH AT THE SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL

If finding the quickest routes from Dendy Newtown to Circular Quay to the State Theatre is a challenge you face yearly, then you’re as excited for the Sydney Film Festival as the hundreds of eager film fans who packed Town Hall this morning for the 2018 program reveal.

Filled with more than 300 flicks from 65 countries including big-ticket previews, Cannes highlights, diverse docos and the decidedly weird, there’s something and then something else for everyone.

Even if you sat in a darkened room, eyelids-ablaze for the entire Festival with two screens playing simultaneously you (probably) wouldn’t be able to catch everything on offer, so here’s 25 picks you may want to lock in tickets for early:

The Breaker Upperers – set to kick off the Festival, this New Zealand comedy centres on two best friends who break up couples for cash. A Flight of the Conchords favourite will also guest-star

Ghost Stories – The eagerly-anticipated hark-back to the spine-tingling thrillers of yesteryear, Martin Freeman and Black Mirror’s Alex Lawther face up to paranormal sightings throughout England

The Seagull – An adaptation of the Chekhov play starring Elisabeth Moss, Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening and Corey Stoll, this is definitely an early contender for best ensemble

Disobedience – Already a major talking point, Sebastian Lelio’s Disobedience, an LGBTQI love story, stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams and follows a return for one character to a religious community that once shunned her

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – A comedy-drama about an orphan and teenager (Chloe Grace-Moretz) who is sent to gay conversion camp – winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize

RocKabulAustralian journalist Travis Beard chronicles Afghanistan’s first and only rock band, District Unknown

Upgrade – Logan Marshall-Green stars as a cyber-enhanced warrior bent on revenge following the death of his wife in this thriller from Australia’s Leigh Whannell – winner of the SXSW Audience Award

Three Identical Strangers – The true story of three identical triplets separated at birth and reunited at 19 – winner of the Sundance Special Jury Prize

You Were Never Really Here – Joaquin Phoenix plays a traumatised veteran tracking down missing girls for a living – winner of Best Actor and Best Screenplay at Sundance

Leave No Trace – From the Writer/Director of Winter’s Bone, the story of a war veteran father and his 13 year-old daughter who live off the grid due to his post-traumatic stress

Juliet, Naked – An adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel, the new indie-rock infused romantic comedy stars Australia’s Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd

The Changeover – A supernatural young adult film set in post-earthquake Christchurch starring Timothy Spall, Lucy Lawless and New Zealand’s Melanie Lynskey, a teenager discovers new abilities which can save her brother’s life

BlacKkKlansman – The highly anticipated collaboration between Spike Lee and Jordan Peele starring David Washington and Adam Driver adapts the true story of an African-American Detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan

Aga – The story of an Inuit couple in remote Siberia and the journey to find their daughter – the film’s Director and Producer will be among the Festival’s overseas guests

Number 37 – The Cape Town-set reworking of Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window and feature debut from South African Writer-Director Nosipho Dumisa

American Animals – The story of four boys who planned to heist the world’s most expensive book, for no apparent reason – the Sundance entry stars Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan

TyrelCrystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus Director Sebastian Silva reunites with Michael Cera for this account of Tyler (Jason Mitchell’s) weekend at a cabin in the woods, where tension soon emerges when Tyler finds he’s the sole black man at a weekend of drunken bro debauchery

The Ranger – A park ranger terrorises punk rockers on the run from the cops – screening as part of the annual Freak Me Out strand

Searching – Starring Debra Messing and John Cho and unfolding on smartphones and screens, a desperate father searches for his missing 16 year-old daughter

The Breadwinner – From the Producers of Song of the Sea, this Oscar-nominated feature and solo directorial debut from Nora Twomey follows an 11 year-old girl who is forced to care for her family in Afghanistan after their father is arrested by the Taliban

A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot – This Northern-Irish documentary, chronicling a self-policing community in Derry, was shot over five years

[Censored] – A portrait of never-before-seen footage stitched together by Australian filmmaker Sari Braithwaite, the recipient of the 2015 AFTRS Creative Fellowship to create an experimental work on Australian censorship

The Field Guide to Evil – An anthology of 8 films from 9 Directors from across the world exploring myths and folklore – the follow up to The ABCs of Death

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – Gus Van Sant directs Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara and Jack Black in this story of American cartoonist John Callahan who, paralysed at the age of 21, continues to struggle with alcohol. The story was first brought to Van Sant’s attention by Robin Williams over 20 years ago

Lean on Pete –  Starring Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship), Christopher Plummer (All The Money in the World) and Directed by Andrew Haigh (45 Years), an at-risk teen in the Pacific Northwest gets a summer job where he befriends a racehorse

 

There’s a great deal more features in the program, and no doubt more yet to come as the Festival’s 65th year rolls closer. If none of these took your fancy, given the diversity of the program there’s probably something that will, or better yet, if something pops out, or just confounds you, why not take a chance.

The Sydney Film Festival will take place from Jun 6-17

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