Sydney Film Festival Unveils Bumper Lineup for 70th Edition

Warwick Thornton’s “The New Boy” has been set as the opening title of next month’s Sydney Film Festival, which will celebrate its 70th edition, June 7-18. The film, a tale of sprituality and survival in 1940s Australia, starring Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair and Aswan Reid, will also play in the festival’s competition section.

Other titles in competition include: the world premiere of Australian documentary feature “The Dark Emu Story,” directed by Allan Clarke; Christian Petzold’s previously announced “Afire”; Charlotte Regan’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Scrapper”; Kore-eda Hirokazu’s “Monster”; Aki Kaurismäki’s compassionate comedy “Fallen Leaves”; Kim Jee-woon’s “Cobweb”; Asmae El Moudir’s “The Mother of All Lies”; Alice Englert’s directorial debut “Bad Behaviour”; Celine Song’s Sundance and Berlinale 2023 selected romance “Past Lives”; Liu Jian’s 2023 Berlinale-selected animation “Art College 1994”; Devashish Makhija’s “Joram,” a thriller about an on the run laborer in Mumbai.

Competition winners will be announced on the closing night on June 18.

In total the festival will play 90 narrative features and 54 documentaries.

Ten documentaries will contest the 2023 Documentary Australia Award. They include world premieres of: “The Defenders”; “The Cape,” by Michael Ware; and Isabel Darling’s “The Carnival.” Other contenders include: Tim Flannery’s “Climate Changers”; Indigenous actor Mark Coles Smith’s “Keeping Hope”; “Kindred” by Gillian Moody and Adrian Russell Wills; the previously-announced “Rachel’s Farm”; Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s “Man on Earth”; and “The Last Daughter”.

A special presentations section hosts a collection of films having their debut in Cannes in May. They include: Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City”; Anurag Kashyap’s noirish thriller “Kennedy”; Wim Wenders’ Japan-set “Perfect Days”; Amat Escalante’s Mexican thriller “Lost in the Night”; and Kleber Mendonça Filho’s love story “Pictures of Ghosts.”

Stories from Asia include the kaiju film “Shin Ultraman”; Zhang Lu’s dramedy “The Shadowless Tower”; Rima Das’s drama “Tora’s Husband”; Aamir Bashir’s” The Winter Within”; Jafar Panahi’s previously-announced “No Bears”; drama “Sand”; and He Shuming’s “Ajoomma.”

The Freak Me Out section, curated by Variety reviewer Richard Kuipers, includes: “Late Night With the Devil, a documentary-style horror; “The Wrath of Becky,” which sees a 16-year-old waitress take spectacularly bloody revenge on right-wing misogynist scumbags; “Raging Race,” in which a Filipino single mother become the housekeeper at a creepy British mansion; revenge thriller “Sisu”; and Sitges prize-winner “Nightsiren.  It also includes a Korean double-bill Jude Chun’s sci-fi “Unidentified” and Park Sye-young’s bizarre body horror “The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra.”

“A film festival is a gathering of diverse perspectives that offers a collective snapshot of the global zeitgeist, allowing us to delve deeper into our present reality,” said Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley. “For 70 years, Sydney Film Festival has been privileged to capture and embody these moments, presenting a rich tapestry of stories that reflect our shared desire to understand the world we live in.”

The festival will also showcase a tribute to Jane Campion that includes all nine of the features that she directed and Julie Bertuccelli’s biographical “Jane Campion, Cinema Woman.”

After Indian screen legend Amitabh Bachchan’s 80th birthday last year, Sydney will present four of his restores classics: “Deewaar,” “Amar Akbar Anthony,” “Don” and “Kaala Patthar.”

Other highlights scattered across the sections include: “20,000 Species of Bees,” which earned a Silver Bear in Berlin for Sofia Otero; “Autobiography,” the first feature from Indonesian filmmaker Makbul Mubarak; Lee Jeong-hong’s “A Wild Roomer,” which won the New Currents competition and the NETPAC Award at Busan; “Riceboy Sleeps,” Anthony Shim’s semi-autobiographical drama that has won more than 20 international awards; “World War III,” following a filmset laborer’s unexpected rise to stardom; “Bobi Wine: The People’s President,” documenting a Ugandan musician-turned-politician’s campaign against dictatorship; Berlinale Golden Bear winner “On the Adamant,” by Nicolas Philibert; and the Sarah Snook-starring “Run Rabbit Run.”

The festival also finds room for the first two episodes of new Australian series, “Bay of Fires,” a darkly comic crime story starring Marta Dusseldorp, as a mother forced to flee her city life and find refuge in the wilds of Tasmania.

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