Sydney Film Festival's Full Jam-Packed 2019 Program Has Just Dropped

With Adam Driver and Bill Murray fighting zombies, Cannes Film Festival hits and no fewer than 307 films screening across 12 days, this year's SFF is panning out to be a big one.
Sarah Ward
May 08, 2019

Another year, another buzz-worthy Adam Driver movie, another Sydney Film Festival. It's becoming quite the trend. With 307 titles on its 2019 program, this year's SFF boasts plenty of other movies to look forward to, hailing from more than 55 countries — but you'll also definitely want to see Adam Driver and Bill Murray battling zombies in Jim Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die.

Like 2018's BlacKkKlansman, The Dead Don't Die heads to SFF straight from the Cannes Film Festival in May, and it has company. While the festival typically announces a whole swag of Cannes titles closer to the fest, it has already bagged a few, including Pedro Almodóvar's Pain and Glory, starring Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz; Parasite, the latest satire by Okja filmmaker Bong Joon-ho; and Kleber Mendonça Filho's fiercely political Bacurau, his first film since 2016 Sydney Film Prize winner Aquarius.

Running from Wednesday, June 5 to Sunday, June 16 at a plethora of Sydney venues including the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays and Newtown, the Hayden Orpheum and the Randwick Ritz, SFF will also feature 23 world premieres. In fact, it's starting with one, opening with the Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Richard E Grant, Greta Scacchi and Jacqueline McKenzie-starring Palm Beach. Other local flicks making their debut at the fest range from Hearts and Bones, featuring Hugo Weaving as a war photographer; the Sydney-shot Standing Up for Sunny, with Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte; and Indigenous Australian horror anthology Dark Place.

The homegrown highlights keep coming, with Michael Hutchence doco Mystify, the Mia Wasikowska-starring Judy & Punch, Vietnam War era-flick Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, dystopian sci-fi I Am Mother and Jennifer Kent's exceptional The Nightingale also on the bill. They sit alongside the previously announced Animals, with Alia Shawkat; The Final Quarter, a documentary about Adam Goodes' battle against racism; and David Stratton's retrospective of films by pioneering female Aussie filmmakers.

The overall highlights just keep coming, too, so prepare to spend plenty of time in a darkened room. Sundance standout The Souvenir (starring Tilda Swinton and her daughter Honor Byrne Swinton) and Berlinale Golden Bear winner Synonyms are among the 12 titles competing for SFF's $60,000 prize, as are German Oscar contender Never Look Away and Macedonian satire God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya.

Elsewhere, Blinded by the Light spins a coming-of-age tale around Bruce Springsteen's music, High Life sends Robert Pattinson into space, documentary Apollo 11 follows the real moon landing, and Skin sees Jamie Bell try to shake off white supremacy. There's also Her Smell, featuring Elisabeth Moss as a Courtney Love-style alt-rock singer; Kursk, a submarine disaster drama with Matthias Schoenaerts and Colin Firth; dance drama The White Crow, which is directed by Ralph Fiennes and follows Rudolf Nureyev's defection; and Come to Daddy, taking Elijah Wood worlds away from the Lord of the Rings.

If that's not enough, SFF's usual program strands return — including a wealth of Aussie docos, a huge international documentary slate, a lineup of music flicks (such as long-awaited Aretha Franklin concert flick Amazing Grace and Martin Scorsese's Bob Dylan doco Rolling Thunder Revue), a showcase of female European directors, a feast of genre flicks and a focus on accessibility. Plus, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish will join SFF's family slate, for a screening of The Secret Life of Pets 2; New Zealand filmmaking is thrust into the spotlight; and SFF pays tribute to Agnes Varda with a retrospective, complete with her final feature, Agnes by Varda.

And if you're wondering how the fest will wrap up, that's being left a surprise for now. In a change from previous years, closing night's flick is set to be announced at a later date. Of course, there are plenty of SFF 2019 films to obsess over until then.

The 2019 Sydney Film Festival runs from June 5 to 16. To check out the full program and to buy tickets, head to the festival website.

Published on May 08, 2019 by Sarah Ward
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