Cate Blanchett, Jack Black Due at Sydney Festival Opening

The Australian festival announced its competition line-up Wednesday.

SYDNEY -- Cate Blanchett, Lucy Liu and Jack Black, directors Joshua Marston, Miranda July and Athina Rachel Tsangari and the casts of Australian features Sleeping Beauty and Toomelah will grace the red carpet for the Australian premières of their films as part of the Sydney Film Festival this year, organizers said Wednesday.

Two out of competition films will bookend this year's edition. Espionage thriller, Hanna, starring Blanchett, Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan will open the fest on June 8, while Mike Mills’ romantic comedy, Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer will close the festival on June 19.  

In between, 12 features will vie for the Sydney Film Prize – four coming directly from the Cannes Film Festival including Australian entries Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty and Ivan Sen’s Toomelah as well as Terence Malick’s Tree of Life and Critics Week entry Jeff NicholsTake Shelter.

Berlin winner Ashgar Farhadi’s A Separation and Joshua Marston’s The Forgiveness Of Blood will also be part of the official competition alongside Fernando León de Aranoa’s Amador (Spain), Alexander Zeldovich’s Target (Russia)  and Mohamed Diab’s Cairo 678 (Egypt) and previously announced films – Attenberg by Athina Rachel Tsangari; The Future by Miranda July and Norwegian Wood directed by Tran Anh Hung.

Chinese director Chen Kaige will preside over the jury for the official competition with the remaining jury members to be announced at a later date.

In total 161 titles featuring 10 world premières and 86 Australian premières, 75 features and 39 documentaries will unspool across six pathways or sidebars over the festival’s 12 days.

“From the daring stylistic approaches in our Official Competition selection through the inspirational subjects and investigations in the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize lineup, this year’s festival is a rousing chorus of unfettered vision, enquiry and creativity,” festival director Clare Stewart said announcing the line-up.

Liu, Black, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffery Katzenberg and director Jennifer Yuh Nelson will introduce the Australian premiere of Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D at a special family gala screening on Monday June 13 at the midpoint of the festival.

Also screening direct from Cannes will be Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene; The Beaver; and Corman’s World and Bear.

Jury president Chen Kaige will present his new feature, Sacrifice, while a retrospective of imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi and his colleague Mohammad Rasoulof will include a new 35mm print of his classic, The White Balloon.

The festival competitive component also includes the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize and The Dendy Awards for Australian short films.

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