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Sydney Film Festival Has Unveiled the First 22 Movies From Its Jam-Packed 2021 Lineup

Berlinale winners, Sundance hits, local documentaries, a film based on a 148-tweet Twitter thread — they're all on the bill.
By Sarah Ward
June 09, 2021
By Sarah Ward
June 09, 2021

June is here, so is the cold weather — and usually the Sydney Film Festival also would be in full swing right about now. But in 2021, SFF is unleashing its cinematic wonders a little later than normal. That doesn't mean that you can't spend its traditional time slot thinking about all the things that you're going to watch between Wednesday, August 18–Sunday, August 29, though.

Also a bit later than usual, SFF has just announced its first program sneak peek for 2021, ahead of the full lineup drop in July. The short version: even based on the list revealed already, your eyeballs are going to be busy at this year's 12-day fest. So far, the event has named 22 movies that'll help it make its proper return to cinemas after a two-year gap. The 2020 event moved online due to the pandemic — and when a summer season brought cinephiles back to the glorious State Theatre in January, it only screened a handful of movies.

If these first 2021 titles are anything to go by, film buffs are in for quite the treat come August. Leading the charge: New Zealand's The Justice of Bunny King, which stars Essie Davis (Babyteeth) and Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit); Riders of Justice, a revenge-fuelled Danish comedy led by the inimitable Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round); 2020 Sundance hit Zola, which is based on a lengthy 148-tweet Twitter thread; 2020 Berlinale Golden Bear winner There Is No Evil, a searing Iranian drama about the death penalty; and Undine, the alluring and beguiling latest film from German auteur Christian Petzold.

Festival director Nashen Moodley has also programmed documentary The Kids, which sees Australian filmmaker Eddie Martin (All This Mayhem) explore Larry Clark's 1995 film Kids; climate change doco The Magnitude of All Things, which includes Greta Thunberg chatting about the topic; Shoplifters of the World, a drama about a fan of The Smiths trying to cope with the band's breakup; and three-time Sundance 2021 winner Hive, the first film to ever win the fest's Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award and Directing Award. Or there's also the tense and engaging Night of the Kings, which takes place in a rough Côte d'Ivoire prison; The Beta Test, a Hollywood-set horror flick that's been getting comparisons to The Twilight Zone; and the Taika Waititi-executive produced sci-fi film Night Raiders.

And, on the local front, Wash My Soul in the River's Flow hones its focus on Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, following the couple as they prepare for 2004's Kura Tungar — Songs from the River — a collaboration between the First Nation artists, Paul Grabowsky and the Australian Art Orchestra. Plus, Step into Paradise explores the collaboration and friendship between Aussie fashion designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson.

The 2021 Sydney Film  Festival will run between Wednesday, August 18–Sunday, August 29. Check out the event's just-announced titles by heading to the festival website. The full program will be released on Wednesday, July 22.

Top image: Zola. Anna Kooris / A24 Films.

Published on June 09, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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