Sydney Film Festival Has Just Revealed Its Huge 233-Film Full Lineup for 2021

After being delayed from June to August and then to November, this year's Sydney Film Festival is back with a 12-day in-cinema program and a ten-day digital lineup.
Sarah Ward
Published on October 07, 2021

What starts with an anthology drama that tells eight tales by Western Sydney writers, then ends with Wes Anderson's latest? That'd be the 2021 Sydney Film Festival. Finally set to return to the city's big screens for a full festival run, the annual cinema showcase will unleash a lineup of 233 titles between Wednesday, November 3–Sunday, November 14 — beginning with Aussie effort Here Out West and ending with The French Dispatch.

They're SFF's bookends for the year; however, with a full program that hefty — with 111 feature films, 50 documentaries and 72 short films, in fact — there's obviously much, much more where they came from. And, yes, the fest will be returning the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Cinemas Newtown, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne and Ritz Cinema Randwick quite a bit later than usual. The 2021 event will be making its debut at Palace Central Broadway, Palace Chauvel Cinema Paddington and Palace Norton Street Leichhardt a few months after it originally planned, too, after this year's event initially shifted from its usual June dates to the end of August, then moved again to November due to Sydney's lengthy lockdown.

And, while the 2020 festival completely moved online, the 2021 event is actually going hybrid. So, Sydneysiders can get their movie fix in-person for 12 days, complete with those quick jogs down George Street to dash between sessions, before checking out SFF On Demand from Friday, November 12–Sunday, November 21. Thanks to the latter, 56 feature-length films and 13 shorts will be available to watch digitally — not just locally, but nationally as well.

During the fest's physical run, program highlights include the Timothée Chalamet-starring new version of Dune, 2021 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner Titane, Pedro Almodóvar and Penelope Cruz's latest collaboration Parallel Mothers, Broadway-to-cinema adaptation Dear Evan Hansen and Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's latest A Hero. Still among the big-name titles, Aussie drama The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson sits among SFF's competition lineup, as does Memoria, the Tilda Swinton-starring English-language debut of Cemetery of Splendour filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul; and Petite Maman, the latest film by Portrait of a Lady on Fire's Céline Sciamma.

Or, there's Jane Campion's new film The Power of the Dog, which stars Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch; televangelist biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye with Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield; the Will Smith-led King Richard, about Venus and Serena' Williams' father; and Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish in The Card Counter. Two Berlinale Golden Bear winners are on the bill as well, thanks to 2020's There Is No Evil and 2021's Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn.

And, SFF has kept a heap of its initially announced titles — from way back in June — such as Undine, Christian Petzold's Berlin-set, fable-inspired romance; and New Zealand's The Justice of Bunny King, which stars Essie Davis (Babyteeth) and Thomasin McKenzie (Old). There's also 2020 Sundance hit Zola, which is based on a lengthy 148-tweet Twitter thread; The Kids, which sees Australian filmmaker Eddie Martin (All This Mayhem) explore Larry Clark's 1995 film Kids; and three-time Sundance 2021 winner Hive, the first film to ever win the fest's Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award and Directing Award.

Obviously, the list of standouts just keeps on keeping on. 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; River is the latest musing on the planet we all call home by Sherpa director Jennifer Peedom; Cow sees American Honey director Andrea Arnold explore the existence of a dairy cow, and Bergman Island is the Tim Roth and Mia Wasikowska-starring new drama from Mia Hansen-Løve (Things to Come).

Also, Fist of Fury Noongar Daa dubs the Bruce Lee-starring Fist of Fury in an Aboriginal Australian language, and becomes the first feature to ever do so; SBS documentary Strong Female Lead, about media coverage of Julia Gillard's stint as Prime Minister, gets a big-screen berth; and SFF's usual lineups of family-friendly fare, wild and wonderful genre flicks, Aussie documentaries and features from talented female European filmmakers all return.

Whether you're attending SFF in-person or watching along via SFF On Demand — or both — you'll clearly have plenty to watch in November.

The 2021 Sydney Film Festival will now take place between Wednesday, November 3–Sunday, November 14. For further information, head to the festival website.

Published on October 07, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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