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Sydney Film Festival 2022

Celebrating its 69th year, Sydney's annual cinema showcase is back with 200-plus movies — including 101 features, 53 documentaries and a whole heap of short films from 64-plus countries.
By Sarah Ward
May 11, 2022
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By Sarah Ward
May 11, 2022
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For the second time in a mere eight months, Sydney Film Festival is back. Get ready to watch 200-plus movies on silver screens all around Sydney between Wednesday, June 8–Sunday, June 19 — at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Newtown, Palace Central, Palace Norton Street, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Ritz Cinemas Randwick, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Art Gallery of NSW.

Overseen by Festival Director Nashen Moodley for the 11th time, this year's SFF spans 101 features, 53 documentaries and a whole heap of short films from 64-plus countries. (And 27 world premieres as well.)  Highlights include the entire Official Competition lineup, aka the movies vying for SFF's big cash prize for films that are "audacious, cutting-edge and courageous". That's where you'll find this year's Berlinale Golden Bear-winner Alcarràs, a family drama from Spain; Blaze, a blend of live-action, puppetry and animation directed by acclaimed Aussie artist Del Kathryn Barton; and supernatural witch flick You Won't Be Alone, which stars Noomi Rapace (Lamb). And, it's home to a number of titles arriving straight from playing Cannes, too — such as Godland from Icelandic filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason (A White, White Day); Close, a teen-focused drama by Girl filmaker Lukas Dhont; and All the People I'll Never Be, about a French woman's quest to discover her Korean roots.

Other big-name inclusions across the rest of the program span New Zealand comedy Nude Tuesday, which'll enjoy its world premiere at SFF; Australia's own Seriously Red, a SXSW hit about a Dolly Parton impersonator; One Fine Morning, from acclaimed French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve (Bergman Island); the Dakota Johnson (The Lost Daughter)-starring rom-com Cha Cha Real Smooth, which earned plenty of fans at Sundance; and Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, where Emma Thompson (Cruella) plays an older women who hires a sex worker — with 52 Tuesdays and Animals filmmaker Sophie Hyde behind the lens.

Or, there's queer comedy Fire Island, about a group of friends on a wild summer holiday; Aubrey Plaza (Best Sellers)-led heist film Emily the Criminal; Cannes 2021 Jury Prize-winner Ahed's Knee, the latest from Synonyms' director Nadav Lapid; time-travel romp Incredible But True, as directed by Rubber and Deerskin's Quentin Dupieux; and One Year, One Night, which features Portrait of a Lady on Fire's Noémie Merlant.

Plus, from the documentary slate, there's Sundance Audience Award-winner Navalny, about the Russian opposition leader poisoned with a nerve agent; Lynch/Oz, which takes a yellow brick road through David Lynch's filmography; Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel, a step inside New York's iconic Chelsea Hotel; and stranger-than-fiction effort My Old School, where Alan Cumming (Schmigadoon!) lip-synchs to audio recordings of Scottish con-artist Brandon Lee.

SFF's full lineup also covers the usual returning favourites among its strands — so its ten-film focus on female directors from Europe is back, as is its selection of movies about music, its weird and wonderful horror and genre flicks, a range of family-friendly fare, a celebration of filmmaking talent with disability, and twelve titles from First Nations creatives. The latter includes all six episodes of Mystery Road: Origins, the new prequel series that focuses on Indigenous police officer Jay Swan, which is one of the fest's massive local highlights. Another: a big-screen showing of the newly restored 4K version of Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, arriving just before his new movie Elvis reaches cinemas.

SFF also announced its first 22 movies back in April, and a few other details since — such as a retrospective focusing on the documentaries of American filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, plus Pacific First Nations anthology We Are Still Here in the coveted opening night slot.

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