Our highlights of the 62nd Sydney Film Festival program

Vincent

So you’ve got your SFF Flexipass but you’re having a hard time choosing between all the hundreds of films that are part of the 62nd Sydney Film Festival. Not to worry, there are many necessary guides out there – like this one – to help you sift through the often overwhelming amount of choices here. Sydney Film Festival is always filled with such a wonderfully diverse line up, catering to one of the widest ranges of cinematic tastes in the world (this is echoed in the fact that Sydney Film Festival was recently named one of the ones worth travelling for).

Our SFF review team came together recently and attempted to pick apart the line up, diving into it and coming out with a manageable amount of films we think really stand out as unmissable.

Ruben Guthrie

Director: Brendan Cowell
Country: Australia
Runtime 94 mins

The opening night gala of Ruben Guthrie is a must-see; a local production that marks the directorial debut of award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor, Brenden Cowell. The film boasts some of Australia’s best actors and promises to be both funny and meaningful as it follows the life of a party boy who is given a shot at redemption. This love letter to Sydney will shine a light on our picturesque city and the darker side of life as a “beautiful person” in a modern acropolis. It’ll also be interesting to see how it is adapted from the acclaimed play.

Screenings:

Monday June 8th – 2pm – State Theatre

Click HERE for tickets.

Love & Mercy

Director: Bill Pohlad
Country: USA
Runtime: 121 mins

The life of The Beach Boys’ troubled musical genius, Brian Wilson is explored in this inspirational biopic. Wilson was the creator of the magnum opus, “Pet Sounds” and the band’s other big hits and lived through addiction, mental illness and a band of family members who had a dysfunctional relationship as they struggled with success and fame. This film will look and sound amazing and shine a light on the enigma that was Mr. Wilson.

Screenings

Sunday 7th June – 6:30pm – State Theatre
Tuesday 9th June – 6:15pm – Event Cinemas, George Street (Cinema 4)
Thursday 11th June – 8:30pm – Hayden Orpheum (Cinema 4)

Click HERE for tickets.

The Secret River

Director: Daina Reid
Country: Australia
Runtime: 160 mins

The premiere of this TV mini-series sees the much-loved and lauded Australian author, Kate Grenville’s “The Secret River” adapted for the screen. The story looks at the British colonisation in Australia and the dispossession of Indigenous Australians. It promises to be a heartbreaking tale and a story that simply had to be told.

The 5:45pm session will be a gala and include filmmaker guests Daina Reid, Stephen Luby, and members of the film team. You’ll also get free choc-tops and water on arrival, with drinks and canapes during the interval.

Sessions

Thursday 11th June – 5:45pm – Dendy Opera Quays (Cinema 1)
Thursday 11th June – 6:10pm – Dendy Opera Quays (Cinema 2)

Click HERE for tickets.

Black Souls

Director: Francesco Munzi
Country: Italy
Runtime: 108 mins

Black Souls sounds like your classic crime film, and it’s already been likened to The Godfather. Three brothers from a Calabrian crime family are faced with crisis and struggle to resolve it. It’s sounding like this film will deal heavily with the idea of “getting out of the game” as it follows the eldest of the three brothers, played by Fabrizizo Ferracane, who has turned his back on a successful drug operation to pursue a simple life with his family, raising goats in their ancestral town in the Calabrian hills. The son of Ferracane’s character, Leo, is fascinated by the drug trade however, and his impulsive reaction to a trivial argument threatens to pull all three of the brothers into a simmering fued. Films that deal with the breaking of the cycles involved with violent crime are always grounds to really capture interesting questions on morals and physical and psychological decay so this is definitely one that will get your mind racing as much as your heart.

Sessions

Tuesday 9th June – 6:30pm – State Theatre
Wednesday 10th June – 2:00pm – State Theatre

Click HERE for tickets.

Amy

Director: Asif Kapadia
Country: UK
Runtime: 90 min

Biopics and documentaries of posthumous celebrities are popular film fodder. We’ve already had the critically acclaimed Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck released earlier this year. In Amy we examine the life, the all-too-fast rise to fame and untimely death of Amy Winehouse. This documentary promises a gentle and tender insight into Winehouse’s life but more importantly to focus on her talent that was lost to the world at such a young age.

Sessions

Friday 5th June – 6:15pm – Dendy Newtown (Cinema 1)
Saturday 6th June – 9:30pm – Event Cinemas, George Street (Cinema 9)

Click HERE for tickets.

Mr Holmes

Director: Bill Condon
Country: UK, USA
Runtime: 103 mins

An interesting new take and turn on the story of Sherlock Holmes, Mr Holmes imagines our detective hero (played by Ian McKellen) as a retired old man trying to stave off his forgetfulness and to ignore those fictional representations of him. Forced into retirement by a case he couldn’t solve, he’s urged by his housekeeper Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger (Milo Parker) to take one last look at it and try to solve the mystery.

Sessions

Saturday 6th June – 4:50pm – State Theatre
Monday 8th June – 11:45am – State Theatre
Saturday 13th June – 8:15pm – Hayden Orpheum (Cinema 4)

Click HERE for tickets.

Strangerland

Director: Kim Farrant
Country: Australia, Ireland
Runtime: 112 mins

This will be director Kim Farrant’s debut feature about two parents whose individual and collective sense of reality is thrown into turmoil when their two children vanish in a tragic dust storm nearby a remote dessert town. Both Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes will get to put their best acting chops to the test in what will undoubtedly be a harrowing and challenging character-focused film. Aussie legend Hugo Weaving is in it to, playing a local police officer who tracks the childrens’ dark fate. Says Farrant: “Strangerland examines how people react in times of crisis and how our deep fear of the unknown and our abhorrence of feeling pain can push us over the edge emotionally, psychologically and physically …

Sessions

Friday 5th June – 6:30pm – State Theatre
Saturday 6th June – 11:30am – State Theatre
Saturday 6th June – 7:30pm – Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
Saturday 6th June – 8:30pm – Hayden Orpheum (Cinema 4)

Click HERE for tickets.

Going Clear: Scientology & The Prison of Belief

Director: Alex Gibney
Country: USA
Runtime: 120 mins

Say what you will about Scientology and its followers, you may not know exactly what they do or what their beliefs are but you’ve heard of it. It’s one of the most infamous religions in the world, but how did it get to be so popular? Based on the book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright, this film is directed by Oscar winner Alex Gibney and is an eye-opening look into this bizarre religion. With interviews of former followers, and an insight into the life of founder L. Ron Hubbard this is sure to be a controversial and debated feature at Sydney Film Festival.

Filmmaker Guest Alex Gibney will be appearing at Sydney Town Hall on Sunday 7th June at 11am. Full details on the SFF website

Sessions

Saturday 6th June – 2:00pm – State Theatre
Wednesday 10th June – 8:35pm – Event Cinemas, George Street (Cinema 4)

Click HERE for tickets.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Country: USA
Runtime: 105 mins

The winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film about friendship, mortality, creativity, and the love of cinema. Greg (Thomas Mann), a high school senior and outcast, and his friend Earl (R.J. Cyler) create parodies of classic films. They soon meet Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a girl who has been diagnosed with cancer. Greg decides to make a film for her, one that will lay bare his feelings for her. If you like cinema, love stories, and tales that make your heart warm, fuzzy, and a little teary, don’t miss this one.

Sessions

Saturday 13th June – 7:25pm – State Theatre
Sunday 14th June – 9:30am – State Theatre

Click HERE for tickets.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Director: Roy Andersson
Country: France, Germany, Norway, Sweden
Runtime: 100 mins

Everyone needs a little more Roy Andersson in their lives, seriously. The Swedish cinematic wizard is back with his trademark absurdist humour with A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (yes, that actually is the title). The film takes the viewer back and forth throughout time, illustrating a meticulous tragicomic series of vignettes. Guiding us through a rather interesting and unique take on existence are Same and Jonathan, two travelling salesmen with a penchant for strange novelty items. Andersson himself stated that the film was “…comical from beginning to end, emotional and uplifting. But from time to time, the audience will also witness outbreaks of terror. The range between humour and horror will be profound.”

Sessions

Sunday 7th June – 9:00pm – State Theatre
Wednesday 10th June – 12:00pm – State Theatre
Saturday 13th June – 3:30pm – Hayden Orpheum (Cinema 4)

Click HERE for tickets.

Vincent

Director: Thomas Salvador
Country: France
Runtime: 77 mins

Vincent promises to be a surprising, gentle, minimalist superhero film. Director Thomas Salvador plays Vincent, an extraordinary young man whose strength takes on superhuman proportions when he comes into contact with water. He meets Lucie (Vimala Pons) and falls in love, finally revealing his secret with someone for the first time. But when he displays his powers publicly, he is forced to flee. This film focuses on the human aspects of the hero. Yes, it is a superhero film, but I guarantee that you haven’t seen one like it, even in this world filled with Marvel.

Sessions

Saturday 6th June – 9:45pm – State Theatre
Sunday 7th June – 9:30am – State Theatre

Click HERE for tickets.

The Tribe

Director: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
Country: Ukraine
Runtime: 132 mins

The Tribe has been dominating festival’s across the globe. As of right now, the film, which is performed entirely in sign language without subtitles, has notched up 25 wins at numerous international film festivals. Sydney Film Festival is never short of cinema which challenges as much as it entertains, and The Tribe is certainly one of the most unique this year. The lead, Sergey, is a new entrant in a specialised boarding school for the deaf, an environment which somehow leads to him rising in the school’s organised network of crime and prostitution, “The Tribe”. Described as sexually explicit and violent, the journey that Sergey takes is expected to be as intense as anything you’ll see this year.

Sessions

Thursday 4th June – 8:35pm – Event Cinemas, George Street (Cinema 9)
Tuesday 9th June – 8:30pm – Dendy Newtown (Cinema 10)
Sunday 14th June – 7:45pm – Event Cinemas, George Street (Cinema 4)

Click HERE for tickets.

The 62nd Sydney Film Festival runs from June 3-14, 2015. A full program and ticket details can be found at www.sff.org.au

Headline image: Vincent