From Yorgos Lanthimos' 'Kinds of Kindness' to Indigenous Aussie Horror, Sydney Film Festival's 2024 Lineup Is Here

This year's 197-title program also includes a Hunter Schafer-starring thriller, Sundance hit 'I Saw the TV Glow' and the latest from 2015 Sydney Film Prize-winner Miguel Gomes.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 07, 2024

Normal life can wait, there's movies to watch: in Sydney each June, that's the mantra. 2024's Sydney Film Festival has been unveiling its packed lineup since early April, including a Midnight Oil documentary to open this year's fest, a Bondi Icebergs doco, Hellraiser with a new live score and a retrospective that pays tribute to Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène. Now arrives the full program, from Yorgos Lanthimos' Poor Things follow-up Kinds of Kindness playing straight from Cannes in SFF's official competition — and yes, it stars Emma Stone (The Curse) — through to the usual latest and greatest in Australian and world cinema.

"Usual" is never quite the word for a major film fest like Sydney's winter showcase, of course. As SFF will demonstrate from Wednesday, June 5–Sunday, June 16, every year's festival looks and feels different because variety is at the heart of its choices. And with a couple of hundred flicks always on the bill — 197 films is 2024's tally, hailing from 69 countries, with 92 narrative features and 54 documentaries, and also 28 world premieres and 133 Australian premieres — Sydney Film Festival's titles can boast a heap of well-known talents and still never resemble past fests.

As he has every year that he's been at the helm since 2012, Festival Director Nashen Moodley has stuffed the event's 71st iteration with everything from Hunter Schafer (Euphoria)-starring thriller Cuckoo and Sundance hit I Saw the TV Glow from We're All Going to the World's Fair's Jane Schoenbrun — which is about two teens grappling with their favourite television show getting cancelled — through to Indigenous Aussie horror via The Moogai, which makes the leap from SFF-winning short to feature vying for the new $35,000 First Nations Award. Or, there's also Dahomey, which won this year's Berlinale Golden Bear; The Bikeriders, starring Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Austin Butler (Dune: Part Two), Tom Hardy (Venom: Let There Be Carnage) and Mike Faist (Challengers); and Grand Tour, as directed by 2015 Sydney Film Prize-winner Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights).

Kinds of Kindness, an anthology effort from Lanthimos, is joined in SFF's official competition by not only Grand Tour and opening night's Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line, but also by titles from India, Germany, Ireland, France, Argentina, Mexico, Italy and Vietnam. They include All We Imagine as Light, the first Indian film playing in Cannes' competition in three decades; three IRL Belfast rappers starring as themselves — and co-starring with Michael Fassbender (Next Goal Wins) — in comedy Kneecap; a tribute to Italian acting great Marcello Mastroianni; Sujo, the cartel drama that won 2024's Sundance Grand Jury Prize; and September Says, the directorial debut of actor Ariane Labed (which means that she's competing against her Alps and The Lobster director Lanthimos).

The highlights keep coming across the rest of the program. Aussie boxing drama Kid Snow with Phoebe Tonkin (Boy Swallows Universe), the Kate Winslet (The Regime)- and Alexander Skarsgård (Mr & Mrs Smith)-led Lee about WWII reporter Lee Miller, Armand starring The Worst Person in the World's Renate Reinsve, Saoirse Ronan (Foe) as a recovering addict in page-to-screen adaptation The Outrun, Australian surfing culture documentary You Should Have Been Here Yesterday: they're all on the list. Or, get excited about Aubrey Plaza's (Scott Pilgrim Takes Off) new comedy My Old Ass, which Margot Robbie (Barbie) produced; The Convert, which features Guy Pearce (The Clearing) and is directed by Once Were Warriors' Lee Tamahori; and Japan's My Sunshine, which follows a boy who learns to figure skate solely to get his crush's attention.

Problemista, directed by and starring Los Espookys' Julio Torres opposite Tilda Swinton (The Killer), is one of the standout indies on the bill. So is Stress Positions, as led by John Early (The Afterparty) and set in New York City during lockdown. Also boasting familiar faces, The Dead Don't Hurt is a feminist western helmed by and starring Viggo Mortensen (Crimes of the Future), and also featuring Vicky Krieps (Corsage) — and A Different Man features Sebastian Stan (Dumb Money), Ghostlight has Triangle of Sadness' Dolly De Leon, and Peter Sarsgaard (The Batman) and Jessica Chastain (George & Tammy) are in Memory. Sasquatch Sunset, directed by the Zellner brothers (Damsel), also sees Riley Keough (Daisy Jones & the Six) and Jesse Eisenberg (Fleishman Is in Trouble) in front of the camera, but playing a sasquatch family.

From acclaimed filmmakers, Radu Jude follows up Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn with Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, Lav Diaz (When the Waves Are Gone) is in police-procedural mode with Essential Truths of the Lake (which clocks in at almost four hours, which is short for the Filipino director), and About Dry Grasses is the newest drama from Winter Sleep and The Wild Pear Tree's Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Fancy two films from Korean action great Choi Dong-hoon (Assassination)? There's an Alienoid and Alienoid: The Return of the Future double.

For feline fans, doco The Cats of Gokogu Shrine is about Japanese street cats. Still on documentaries, Untitled Blur Documentary goes to the British band's 2023 Wembley Stadium shows, Federer: Last Twelve Days hails from Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy and Diego Maradona), Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story pays tribute to its namesake and Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger steps through the titular pair's films with Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon). The Bones digs into the fossil trade, while Occupied City marks the return of Steve McQueen's (Small Axe) work to SFF after he won the first-ever Sydney Film Prize with Hunger. Also, if you're keen for Skywalkers: A Love Story, catch it in IMAX — it's about a couple of daredevils climbing the planet's tallest structures.

And in the Box Set box seat — aka the part of the fest that serves up a TV binge — is six episodes of mystery series Exposure, as led by Alice Englert (Bad Behaviour) and executive produced by Justin Kurzel (SnowtownNitram).

Screening at The State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Newtown, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Palace Central, Palace Norton Street, Ritz Cinemas Randwick, IMAX Sydney, the Art Gallery of NSW and the State Library of NSW, SFF's 2024 must-sees keep going — because if you've got enough holiday leave for it, dedicating the full 12 days to movies, movies and more movies is one of the ultimate cinephile experiences.

"The 71st Sydney Film Festival unfurls a canvas of bold narratives and remarkable visions, mirroring the evolving dynamics of our world," said Moodley about the 2024 lineup.

"This year, we are proud to present films that challenge, entertain, and provoke dialogue, from the sweeping landscapes of Australian dramas to the complex human stories from global cinema. The 2024 selection reinforces our commitment to fostering a diverse cinematic experience, spotlighting works that engage with pressing social issues, personal stories and transformative historical moments."

"These films invite the audience to journey through myriad cultures and experiences, reflecting the rich complexity of the human condition."

David Dare Parker

Sydney Film Festival 2024 takes place from Wednesday, June 5–Sunday, June 16 at various cinemas and venues around Sydney. For more information — and for tickets from Wednesday, May 8, 2024 — head to the festival's website.

Published on May 07, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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