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Sydney Film Festival's Entire Amazing 2016 Program Is Here

If you need us during June, we'll be holed up in a dark room.
By Sarah Ward
May 11, 2016
By Sarah Ward
May 11, 2016

Movie buffs, the day you've been waiting for is here. No, it's not Sydney Film Festival time just yet, but the fest has just unleashed their complete lineup — that is, the 244 films from 60 countries, including 25 world premieres and 139 Australian premieres, that you'll be feasting your eyes on come June 8 to 19.

If you've been keeping up with the international film scene, you might've spotted that SFF's program launch falls on the same day the Cannes Film Festival kicks off. That timing isn't just a stroke of luck. With nine films heading to Sydney straight from the prestigious event — Xavier Dolan's sixth feature It's Only the End of the World, Pedro Almodóvar's eagerly awaited Julieta and Steven Spielberg's motion-captured take on The BFG among them — it's also a sign of things to come.

SFF 2016 - It's Only the End of the World

"It's always incredibly difficult to secure films from Cannes before Cannes has even started," notes Festival Director Nashen Moodley. "We've done really well this year, so alongside collecting the best of cinema from over the last year, we have some of the very latest films that are going to cause a big buzz in Cannes."

Partially Sydney-shot psychological drama Apprentice falls into that category, as does Brazilian offering Aquarius and Indian true-crime thriller Raman Raghav 2.0. Alongside Dolan's star-studded effort, they're also among the twelve films vying for SFF's official prize of $63,000 — as are Kelly Reichardt's Sundance hit Certain Women, innovative docu-drama hybrid Notes on Blindness, fictionalised historical tale The Childhood of a Leader, Portuguese love story Letters from War, and opening night's Goldstone.

The latter was first announced last month, but should still rank highly on every cinephile's must-see list. Moodley describes Ivan Sen's Mystery Road follow-up as a "statement of intent" for this year's festival — his fifth at the helm, and the fifth to commence with locally made or focused content. "It is important that we highlight the cinema of this country," he explains. "And for me, it is a wonderful thing to open the festival with a world premiere of a great Australian film."

SFF 2016 - Chevalier

On the Aussie-made front, Down Under is certain to raise a few eyebrows when it makes its first appearance at SFF, given that it turns the aftermath of the 2005 Cronulla riots into a black comedy. In fact, having a sense of healthy humour is almost a pre-requisite for festival-goers. Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse in Swiss Army Man, Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña team up for buddy-cop satire War on Everyone, Tom Hiddleston climbs the darkly dystopian High-Rise, and the watery Chevalier offers up the latest Greek new wave absurdity.

They're joined by the high-profile likes of Richard Linklater's '80s-set Everybody Wants Some!!, Michael Shannon playing rock 'n' roll royalty in Elvis & Nixon, Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg going back to his Dogme 95 roots with The Commune, and actor-turned-director Diego Luna taking Danny Glover and Maya Rudolph on a Mexican road trip in Mr. Pig. A number of notable documentaries also feature, including Gimme Danger, Jim Jarmusch's love letter to Iggy Pop; Kiki, winner of Berlinale's Teddy Award for its look at New York's competitive voguing scene; Kate Plays Christine, which takes the meta approach to a real life prime-time suicide; and internet exploration Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, as directed and narrated by none other than Werner Herzog.

SFF 2016 - Love and Friendship

A timely spotlight on ten emerging European female filmmakers, showcases of modern Korean and Irish cinema, the previously revealed Scorsese retrospective and a virtual reality program in the SFF Hub help round out the lineup, alongside the return of regular sections Box Set, Sounds on Screen and Freak Me Out. And while no one wants to think about the end of the festival just yet, penciling closing night into your calendar right now is a wise move. Who doesn't want to wrap up 12 days of film fun with Love & Friendship, particularly if you're a Jane Austen, Whit Stillman, Kate Beckinsale or Chloe Sevigny fan?

The 2016 Sydney Film Festival runs from June 8 to 19. To check out the complete program and book tickets, visit the festival website.

Published on May 11, 2016 by Sarah Ward
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