The Sydney Film Festival is just around the corner, and is about to launch its first full-scale festival since COVID hit.
Chatting to The Latch, SFF Director Nashen Moodley said that assuming all goes to plan, it will be “absolutely wonderful” to be able to hold all the parties and events that surround the film screenings once again, and to be able to invite the filmmakers to partake in person.
“We’re very confident that when the festival returns in June, we’ll be able to have international filmmakers,” he said, adding that they’ve “invited a good deal to come be with us”.
“This festival will be not just about screening in cinemas again, but also about the celebration of cinema outside the cinema, through parties and talks and the various events linked to films,” he said.
This week, SFF announced the first 22 films slated to screen during the festival, a mere 10% of what’s in store.
“There’s a lot more to come,” Moodley teased, “but I think there’s a great deal of interest with these 22 films and they give an idea of the direction that we’re going for the festival. There will be a very broad range of films from around the world and we’re excited to present them to an audience.”
When it comes to what’s in store for audiences this year, Moodley promised that there will be “something for everyone”.
“We’ve received an extraordinary number of submissions and people can expect the best of international and Australian cinema,” he said, adding, “we understand that we have such a range of people who come to the festival with such a range of tastes, so we try to cater to everyone”.
Of the 22 films announced in the teaser, four are Australian, and Moodley said that they’re “really excited” about the selection.
“We very much see this as introducing new Australian talent to the audience,” he said. “In each case, these are filmmakers at the beginning of their careers, and we think each of these films is very, very impressive.”
Here are Nashan Moodley’s top five unmissable films that will screen at SFF in June.
Directed by: Luke Cornish
Synopsis: On Sydney’s urban fringe, two young women battle for a better life in the underground world of competitive street dance.
Patricia, Romanian-born and hanging out for a visa, is a breakdancer. Gabi, of Chilean-Samoan heritage, pops with power. Both dream of escaping the rough hand they’ve been dealt.
Will a win at Australia’s biggest dance competition, Destructive Steps – in which 60 contestants compete in the preliminary rounds – be their golden ticket? Or will the external pressures of financial hardship and volatile relationships stop them from even reaching the dancefloor?
Director Luke Cornish spent seven years filming the women’s progress. Waiting to see how they fare will have you on the edge of your seat.
Moodley says: “It’s two really inspirational characters. I think that’s going to be a really great screening.”
Directed by: Macario De Souza
Synopsis: Maxie, Summer and James share a deep bond and love for music. James (Rory Potter) is the entrepreneur of the trio, his sights set on a career as a promoter. Summer (Yasmin Honeychurch) has an incredible singing voice. Maxie (Rasmus King, Bosch & Rockit, SFF 2021) is the maestro of mischief.
When James receives a devastating diagnosis, the friends — each with burdens to bear — throw themselves into a whirlwind of festivals in an attempt to escape reality.
Featuring top acts Dune Rats, G Flip, Bliss n Eso, B Wise, Peking Duk, Ruby Fields, Jerome Farah, Kobie Dee and more — and fantastic footage shot at actual festivals — 6 Festivals is a moving love letter to young friendship and the life-altering power of live music.
Moodley says: “The film’s very clever in that it was shot at real festivals, so there’s a real vibrancy.
I think it’s a wonderful film because, aside from the film industry, the live music industry has taken such a knock during the pandemic.
It’s really about the celebration of live music and what how important it can be to people, to young people especially, this life-changing nature of live music.
I think that’s a great film that we’re very happy to present to the audience for the first time in Australia.”
Trailer: No trailer for this one just yet, but stay tuned and we’ll update when there is!
Directed by: Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes
Synopsis: Don’t call popular wellness advocate Cecilia ‘Sissy’. It’s an old nickname that triggers traumatic memories of school bully Alex, who drove a wedge between 12-year-old Cecilia and her bestie Emma.
A decade later, Cecilia (a superb Aisha Dee) bumps into Emma, who invites Cecilia to her hen’s party at a remote bush property. What could go wrong at this happy reunion?
Well, just about everything from the moment Cecilia comes face to face with Alex again and all revenge-fuelled hell breaks loose.
Playing it fast, funny and gory, writer-director duo Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes subvert slasher film conventions while dishing up a scathing satire of influencer culture and approval addiction.
Moodley says: Sissy is a film that just played at the SXSW festival. It’s darkly funny, it’s very gory, it’s very fun, I think it’s a film that’s really going to satisfy an audience that’s into horror films.
Directed by: David Easteal
Synopsis: There’s nothing in Australian cinema to compare with this remarkable first feature by filmmaker-barrister David Easteal.
Filmed almost exclusively from the back seat of a car that doubles as a safe space and confessional, this deceptively simple film is deeply layered and emotionally rewarding.
The affable man at the wheel is Andrew Rakowski, a colleague Easteal met at a Melbourne legal centre.
Over the course of Rakowski’s journeys from work to home — solo or with Easteal for company — we learn about the ups and downs of a man whose life story is anything but ordinary.
Not a moment is wasted in this boldly conceived, cleverly executed and quietly compelling existential road movie.
Moodley says: It’s something quite incredible, I think, because it’s three hours in the car, either one or two people in the car, having conversations amongst each other or on the phone, and it’s turned into something extremely compelling and pleasurable.
It’s quite an achievement. This is a very talented filmmaker and I think people will be quite blown away by it.
Directed by: Kamila Andini
Synopsis: Yuni (Arawinda Kirana) is the smartest in her school and aspires to go to university. But her high school is becoming increasingly puritanical, insisting on mandatory virginity tests for girls and a ban on music.
Yuni’s hopes are further dampened by two marriage proposals from older men she barely knows. Her grandmother urges her to accept this ‘blessing’, for it is said that a woman who rejects three suitors is destined to never marry. In the face of this societal pressure, Yuni must also negotiate her crush on a teacher and the affections of shy schoolmate Yoga, a budding poet.
A sensitive portrait of a vibrant, unforgettable character from rising-star Andini, a distinctive and essential voice in international cinema.
Moodley says: Andini is an extremely talented filmmaker. This is her third feature film and she’s destined for international greatness, I think and hope.
It’s very poetic, this film, and it’s one that I think people are really going to connect with.
Read more about the films on offer at the Sydney Film Festival, and purchase tickets, here.