FBi‘s Guide to the 62nd Sydney Film Festival

May 8th 2015


More than just a popcorn-chomping movie marathon, the 62nd Sydney Film Festival is a 12-day love affair with all things the movies.

Boasting everything from talks and parties to a harbour cruise, the Sydney Film Festival program places its emphasis on the experience of the movies as a distinctively social one.

If you’re planning to pack in as many films as you can throughout the festival – at least you’re managing to step outside of your house. The Wolfpack follows seven kids, from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who have been locked away from society with their only idea of the outside world being through the films that they watch. Filmed over four years, Director Crystal Moselle stumbled upon the film’s subjects walking down First Avenue in Manhattan.

Sunrise is an eerie psychological thriller set in Mumbai, which follows a police inspector in search of his kidnapped six-year-old daughter – but it boasts a hell of a lot of style. While in a bout of Lynchian appreciation, the central protagonist is haunted by visions of an elsewhere terror. The set pieces are full of deep, lush colours, which have been shot with a great deal of pomp.


You’ll also have the chance to revisit the past at this year’s festival. Originally released in 1998 and butchered by overzealous studio heads pining for a hit, 54: The Director’s Cut is now – by some Hollywood miracle – being released in its original form. The Hub will celebrate its release by holding a Studio 54 Party for its closing night – it’s bound to be disco celebration not to be missed.

The rediscovered 70s film Joe Bullett featuring the title character as a badass gangsta-fighting super-man will be shown as part of the festival’s focus on South Africa, as will Necktie Youth. Completely shot in black and white, the film is a tale of youth in contemporary Johannesburg.


Part of the Freak Me Out program, Goodnight Mommy is a creepy psychological horror of twin boys whose mother returns home from hospital with her face covered in bandages and refusing to speak. The boys suspect someone is impersonating their mother and the film takes us through the curious lengths the twins go through to determine who is behind the bandages.

We get two chances to catch Kristen Wiig at the festival, though don’t expect to see her floating around dressed as Daenerys or a member of One Direction ;(  This time in Nasty Baby, Wiig plays the role of Polly, a single woman attempting to create life using her best friend’s sperm.  We also see her in the brutally honest and awkward, The Diary of a Teenage Girl a story of a 15 year old girl who just wants to have sex all the time.

No need to take that personality test to wield your skepticism on Scientology, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief gives a rare insight into how the Church of Scientology relies on its famous preachers to keep the Church running. Director Alex Gibney will be joining the festival in conversation at Lower Town Hall, you can grab tickets here.  Also screening as part of the festival line up of documentaries is The Hunting Ground. Don’t walk alone at night, they say? Filmmaker Amy Ziering exposes institutional cover ups of rape crimes on U.S campuses, wIth first hand accounts of survivors.


There are some great Australian films throughout the program such as the documentary Gayby Baby*, directed by Sydney local Maya Newell in her debut feature, we delve into a child’s eye view of a modern family and what it’s like growing up with same-sex parents. Women He’s Undressed is a documentary focusing on Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly,  the man behind the costumes of countless Hollywood classics (Some Like It Hot, Gypsy, An American in Paris) who abruptly disappeared from the Hollywood film industry.

Closing night will see Holding the Man, Niel Armfield’s first film since the Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish drama Candy. It tells of a romance between two boys spanning over 15 years and ends with their death from an AIDS-related illness.

A hit at Sundance Film Festival Tangerine*, follows a transgender sex worker on Christmas Eve and her rampage through the streets of Los Angeles to get to the bottom of rumours of an unfaithful pimp boyfriend. It was filmed entirely on an Iphone, and an extremely low budget – this is definitely not one to miss at the festival. Director Sean Baker will be in conversation for a free talk at Apple during the festival too, check out who’s in town for a chat here.

Films are meant to take you into a different world, and sometimes that world can feel like a hallucinogenic journey on acid. The Forbidden Room is a marriage of weird David Lynch and quirkiness of Wes Anderson. A two level structure of stories within stories, with a mixing of genres and cinematic tropes, director Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg) will have you leaving the cinema as if coming out of a psychedelic haze.

The Forbidden Room

The Forbidden Room

If you’re keen to take a journey through creativity then catch Station To Station*, it’s the result of 61 one-minute segments where director and visual artist Doug Aitkin travelled on a train, stopping at nine locations along the way – in each stop organising art exhibitions with musicians, artists, photographers and dancers with the likes of Patti Smith, Savages and Cat Power among the creators he engaged with.


*If you’re an FBi supporter, you could win free tickets to a bunch of excellent films – enter here!


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The 62nd Sydney Film Festival runs from 3 – 14 June, and with over 250 films to choose from take an hour or two out of your day and check out the full program online.

Tune into Short Cuts on Saturday 8th May at 10am to hear Dee Jefferson and Matt Roden discuss their picks!




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