The Sydney Film Festival has announced the first 28 titles of its 2017 line-up, with some heavy-hitting award winners and so-to-be-classic choices. New Australian films, festival hits and some esoteric choices from around the world will be among the hundreds of titles that will gather under Sydney’s rainy skies on 7-18 June this year.
David Lowery’s minimalist A GHOST STORY is already making best-of lists before its been screened, and its no wonder with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck headlining the cast. It joins Oscar-nominated I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, a powerful narrative exploration of race in America. It is not to be missed. Of the other top-billed films, documentarian Nick Bloomfield turns his eye to the late Whitney Houston in WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME.
New Australian indie comedy THAT’S NOT ME, influenced by Girls and Bridesmaids, is the debut by Gregory Erdstein. It follows an actress who is chagrined to find her twin has landed a role on HBO, at least until she can use that celebrity for her own benefit. Other Australian titles include THE OPPOSITION, Hollie Fifer’s documentary about a land claim in Papua New Guinea which lands in cinemas after an extensive legal battle; and MOUNTAIN, a collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Winners and weirdos
The festival winners are a curious mix announced so far, partly playing catch-up on some of the major festivals of the last 12 months or so.
Festival winners from around the world include Agnieszka Holland’s Silver Bear winning SPOOR; the Sundance Best Director Award winning WINNIE, about South Africa’s ‘mother of the nation’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; WOLF AND SHEEP, a debut feature by a groundbreaking Afghan woman director, a Cannes Director’s Fortnight-winner, and GRADUATION, last year’s Best Director winner for Romania’s Cristian Mungiu at Cannes. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY and POP AYE come straight off winning at Sundance this year.
Left of centre selections include Ho Yuhang’s Tarantino-esque MRS. K, with veteran martial arts star Kara Wai alongside Simon Yam. Let’s hope this is just a taste of a vastly improved Asian program this year, after only a handful of offerings in 2016. Then freak yourself out completely by giving into your coulrophobia and watchingFlorian Habicht’s SPOOKERS where carnival workers dress up as psycho clowns, corpses and chainsaw-wielding maniacs. Or if you’ve got 4 hours to spare, try Lav Diaz’s THE WOMAN WHO LEFT. At least its shorter than Diaz’s 485 minute A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery!
For younger audiences, the acclaimed family animation MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI, voiced by Ellen Page and Nick Offerman, finally makes its way to Sydney after playing at MIFF last year.
The retrospective title AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON will be playing at the Skyline Drive In Blacktown as well.
More to come
This is just a taster, of course, for the full program yet to be announced on 10 May 2017. Have you got a film you are hoping to see in the line-up this year? We’ve got a yen to see Ingrid Goes West, another Sundance favourite this year. For a full preview, and to buy flexipasses, check out sff.org.au