Twenty films to capture at the Sydney Film Festival

It will be the first chance to see these films, get back to the festival experience by discovering something new and in a COVID-safe way catch up with other film lovers.

Screenings take place at State Theater, Event George Street, Dendy Newtown, Cremorne Orpheum, Chauvel, Randwick Ritz, Casula Powerhouse, Palace Central and Palace Norton Street, with tickets from or by calling 1300 733 733.

So here are 20 fascinating prospects for the festival …


The opening of the festival is an emotional drama set in western Sydney. Takes place over 24 hours, Out here in the west starts with a desperate grandmother taking a baby from a hospital where eight new writers from different cultural backgrounds are making intertwined stories. With five female directors – Leah Purcell, Ana Kokkinos, Fadia Abboud, Lucy Gaffy and Julie Kalceff – it shows a new generation of immigrant stories.

Out here in the west

Out here in the westCredit:With curious


After a triumphant debut at the Venice Film Festival, this slow-burning, whimsical melodrama is expected to return esteemed director Jane Campion (The piano, The top of the lake) for the Oscars next year. Set in Montana in 1925, it centers on the turbulent relationship between a cruel cattle man (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his sensitive brother (Jesse Plemons), who marries a terrible widow (Kirsten Dunst) with an artistic son (Kodi Smit-McPhee ).

The power of the dog.

The power of the dog.Credit:Netflix


This year, the French director Julia Ducournau won the main prize at the Cannes Film Festival with what New York Times has called “a cruel, philosophical thriller”. It centers on a strip club dancer (Agathe Rousselle) with a titanium plate in the skull from a car accident in childhood and forced to kill. Expect cinematic boldness, absurdist moments and visceral shocks.


From director Eddie Martin (All this chaos) comes a fascinating documentary about a group of American teenagers whose lives changed dramatically when they appeared in the 1995 film Children. Although now considered an art house classic, actors Justin Pierce and Harold Hunter died tragically young. Martin examines the outcome of the film.

The children.

The children. Credit:Umbrella


Italian director Paolo Sorrentino has built a reputation with This must be the place, The great beauty, Youth and The. His latest film is comic drama is inspired by his youth in Naples in the 1980s. It’s a time when Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) is excited about Argentine superstar Diego Maradona joining Napoli. But there are family secrets and tragedies that need to be revealed.


Will Smith plays the driven father of American tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams in a film that is considered a leading Oscar contestant in all major categories. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Joe Bell), shows how Richard Williams inspired his talented daughters to go from training on Compton’s abandoned courts to tennis stardom.


Just by reading that this Romanian film opens with a 10-minute “homemade sex video” between a schoolteacher and her husband, you might be wondering about the festival’s standards. But the recognition for director Radu Jude’s satire includes the main prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. When the sex tape leaks, Emi (Katia Pascariu) becomes the center of a public scandal in a film that Sight and sound called “riotously bonkers”.


Ron Howard shot Thirteen lives, a Hollywood drama about rescuing a young football team from an underground Thai cave system in 2018 on the Gold Coast earlier this year. But only when the screenshots are this documentary about the same miraculous rescue from Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi who directed the Oscar-winning Free solo. Overseas reviewers have praised it with words like “stunning”, “captivating” and “enchanting”.


Honorable Chinese Director Zhang Yimou (Raise the red lantern, House of Flying Daggers) tells a gripping story during the Cultural Revolution about a refugee from a labor camp (Zhang Yi) who is desperate to grab footage from a propaganda film in the belief that it shows his alienated daughter. Despite changes imposed by Chinese censors, One second has reportedly survived as a soulful drama.

One second.

One second.Credit:Rialto


French director Celine Sciamma showed off her fiery talent with romance Portrait of a lady on fire. Her follow-up has been described as “a clever and delicate snippet of a film” that was dreamed up during quarantine and shot outside Paris. It shows an unexpected connection between a bright eight-year-old girl (Josephine Sanz) and her mother (Nina Meurisse).


Instructor Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) has received glowing reviews abroad for a sci-fi blockbuster that finally tames Frank Herbert’s famous novel. It is an epic and stunning-looking story about a duke (Oscar Isaac) who is tasked with taking over a desert planet, while his son (Timothee Chalamet) has prophetic dreams of a mysterious young woman (Zendaya).


DuneCredit:Warner Bros.


An entertaining documentary by director Marilyn Agrelo (Mad Hot Ballroom) about the radical early history of children’s television shows Sesame Street. It uses clips, footage and interviews to provide insight into its creator’s strategy for teaching children and showcasing racial harmony in the late 1960s. It includes behind-the-scenes footage of Jim Henson and Frank Oz running The Muppets.


Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has long been a favorite among festival audiences around the world. What has been described as his best film since Everything about my mom in 1999 is a more serious-than-usual drama about two women (Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit) who commit after giving birth to baby daughters at the same time in a maternity ward in Madrid.

Parallel mothers

Parallel mothersCredit:Sony


A musical documentary from director Philippa Bateman celebrating the talent of the great First Nation musicians Archie Roach and the late Ruby Hunter. It is centered around the premiere of their acclaimed musical theater performance in 2004 Kura Tongues – Songs from the river, a collaboration with Paul Grabowsky and the Australian Art Orchestra.


A rare film that is not based on a novel or cartoon, but a Twitter thread. Directed by Janicza Bravo, it’s a female show about a lively adventure for two strippers who were crowned in a tweetstorm by A’Ziah King aka Zola in 2015. This left-wing comedy is centered on a wild trip to Florida involving sex work, guns and a questionable relationship between Zola (Taylor Paige) and new friend Stefani (Riley Keough).



After the documentaries Sherpa and mountain, director Jennifer Peedom has worked with Joseph Nizeti on what is described as a cinematic love letter to the world’s waterways, narrated by Willem Dafoe. The trailer suggests that it features majestic recordings from 39 countries as well as a score by the Australian Chamber Orchestra featuring music by Bach, Radioheads Jonny Greenwood and William Barton.


When a film wins the Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award and Best Director in the World Cinema Program at the Sundance Film Festival, it must be something special. Writer-director Blerta Basholli’s first feature is a real-life drama about a Kosovo war sinker (Yllka Gashi), whose plan to rebuild her life disrupts her community.


As well as writing the Martin Scorsese films Taxi driver, Raging Bull and Christ’s last temptation, Has Paul Schrader directed as American Gigolo, Easy sleeping, Autofocus and First reformed. This revenge thriller focuses on a lone professional player (Oscar Isaac) with a dark military background.

The card counter

The card counterCredit:Focus


Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s documentary describes the life of the late great Canadian singer-songwriter before, during and after he wrote the masterpiece that is Hallelujah. Hard as it is to believe, the song was originally on an album that Columbia Records executives did not like so much that they never released it in the United States.


This long awaited film from the always stylish Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs) closes the festival. You could come for what Variety has called a “dizzyingly intricate tribute to news people and women of the 20th century” in a fictional version of New Yorker magazine in France. Or you can join the impressive ensemble cast led by Bill Murray, Timothee Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Benicio del Toro.

The French dispatch.

The French dispatch.Credit:Disney

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