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Sydney Film Festival 2015

Get in on the year's best movie binge before it closes.
By Tom Clift
June 01, 2015
By Tom Clift
June 01, 2015

Hold onto your butts, film lovers. The 62nd Sydney Film Festival has dropped its full program, and it is seriously impressive. With more than 250 titles from 68 countries, including a number of major grabs from Cannes, Toronto and Sundance, Sydney cinephiles are going to be spoiled for choice when the festival roles around in just four weeks time.

The 2015 festival will be bookended by a pair of Australian features, both making their world premieres. Brendan Cowell’s previously announced Ruben Guthrie will open the festivities on June 3, while Neil Armfield’s Holding the Man, starring Ryan Corr, Anthony LaPaglia, Guy Pearce and Sarah Snook, will bring things to a close on June 14.

Other Australian films in the lineup include Last Cab to Darwin, starring Michael Caton as a cancer-stricken taxi-driver; The Daughter, theatre director Simon Stone's modern-day take on Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, starring Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie and Miranda Otto; Strangerland, an outback thriller featuring Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes; and Sherpa, a documentary about disaster on Mount Everest that could hardly feel more timely.


The latter three films will compete for $62,000 in this year’s Official Competition, along with nine international features including Italian crime epic Black Souls, American indie dramedy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Iranian anthology film Tales, minimalist French superhero flick Vincent and Swedish existential comedy A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, as well as a sprawling, three-part Portuguese adaptation of Arabian Nights.

Rounding out the competition are three films notable for their formal ambition. Raucous American comedy Tangerine, about a pair of transgender sex workers, was shot entirely on an iPhone 5, while German heist film Victoria unfolds Birdman-style in a single elaborate take. But perhaps most exciting is Tehran Taxi, the new effort from Iranian director Jafar Panahi. Once again defying a government-imposed ban on filmmaking, this new work takes place entirely within the confines of a taxi, with the director himself at the wheel.

Other exciting titles outside of the competition include Peter Strickland’s lesbian BDSM romance The Duke of Burgundy, harrowing Ukrainian sign-language film The Tribe and South Korean people-smuggling drama Haemoo, as well as the latest work from Abel Ferrara, a biopic about controversial Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. These join previously announced films including German post-war thriller Phoenix and Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy.


The festival also announced a number of high-profile documentaries. Director Asif Kapadia follows up his masterful Senna with a look at the life of Amy Winehouse in Amy, while special festival guest Alex Gibney explores the murky world of Scientology with Going Clear.

A number of local docos will also compete for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award, including Gayby Baby, about children raised by same-sex parents, and Gillian Armstrong’s Women He’s Undressed, about Oscar-winning Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly. The latter will screen on a cruise ship in Sydney Harbour.

For sustenance, immersion and inspiration, drop by the Sydney Film Festival Hub at Lower Town Hall throughout the festival.

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