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Sydney Film Festival Unveils the First Part of Its Massive 2019 Program

Oscar nominees, world premieres and a bleak sci-fi starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche — and that's just in the first 23 flicks.
By Sarah Ward
April 03, 2019
By Sarah Ward
April 03, 2019

When this year's Sydney Film Festival rolls around, it'll do so with Oscar nominees, festival award winners and Sundance hits, plus the world premiere of an important Australian documentary. Throw in plenty of famous faces, a few more local flicks and a heap of acclaimed docos, and another busy fest is in store — and that's just from the event's first 23 titles.

While the annual festival won't reveal its full 2019 lineup until May, it has unveiled a sneak peek of what's in store between Wednesday, June 5 and Sunday, June 16. As always, Sydney cinephiles should start getting excited. Also recommended: getting ready to spend 12 days in packed cinemas around the city.

After staying local with its 2019 retrospective — a showcase of ten films by trailblazing female Aussie directors, as unveiled last week — SFF is also keeping close to home with some of its early standouts. Fittingly, Sydney audiences will be the first in the world to see The Final Quarter, a documentary about the horrific racism faced by former Sydney Swans AFL player Adam Goodes, as well as his determination to call it out and the response he received. The festival will also screen Animals, the Alia Shawkat-starring new film from 52 Tuesdays director Sophie Hyde, as well as She Who Must Be Loved, an insightful doco about Indigenous filmmaking pioneer Freda Glynn.

On the star-studded front, Sydneysiders will finally get to see Claire Denis' High Life, the stellar sci-fi flick that sends Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche into space in a bleak but enthralling way, and screened around the rest of the country at the Alliance Française French Film Festival. Also headed towards SFF-goers' eyeballs is the Aussie premiere of Dev Patel-starring thriller The Wedding Guest, Matt Bomer as a weatherman in Papa Chulo and Game of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie dallying with a haunted dress flick in In Fabric. The latter, which marks the latest film from Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy's Peter Strickland, is definitely worth your attention.

Other highlights include Aretha Franklin concert film Amazing Grace, which has taken decades to reach cinema screens; more music with A Dog Called Money, a doco about PJ Harvey; and this year's two-time Academy Award nominee Never Look Away, which is inspired by the life of German artist Gerhard Richter. The Kleptocrats explores the funnelling of dirty money into The Wolf of Wall Street — yes, the Leonardo DiCaprio film — by members of the Malaysian government, Midnight Family delves into Mexico's healthcare system, and Thai drama Manta Ray follows a fisherman who rescues a refugee. And then there's Italian crime flick Piranhas, the Berlinale screenwriting winner about teen gangs on the streets of Naples, as well as offbeat Japanese comedy Jesus, which stars Tokyo-based Aussie comedian Chad Mullane as a hyperactive doll possessed by the spirit of Jesus Christ.

The 2019 Sydney Film Festival will run from June 5 to 16. Check out their currently announced titles by heading to the festival website. The full program will be released on May 8.

Published on April 03, 2019 by Sarah Ward
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