Hugo Weaving to Head Sydney Film Festival Jury

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SYDNEY - Australian actor Hugo Weaving will be a major presence at the 60th edition of the Sydney Film Festival, both as president of the international jury for the festival’s competition and starring in the opening night film, Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road.

Weaving and the rest of the yet-to-be-announced jury will judge a total of twelve features competing for the $60,000 Sydney Film prize, for the sixth year of the festival's international competition.

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The twelve films include five features in competition at this month’s Cannes Film Festival, three winners from the 2013 Berlin Film festival and two documentaries for the first time.

Alex Van Warmerdam’s Borgman will compete at Sydney, coming direct from Cannes, as will Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, African filmmaker, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun‘s Grigris, Monsoon Shootout, the first feature from new Indian director Amit Kumar, and Critics Week entrant For Those In Peril from British newcomer Paul Wright.

Berlinale 2013 Golden Bear winner Childs Pose, audience favorite Felix Van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, documentary audience award winner, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act Of Killing, and best first feature winner, Kim Mordaunt’s The Rocket – the only Australian competitor in the Sydney Film Prize, which also collected best narrative feature at Tribeca  – are also amongst the twelve competing for the Sydney Film Prize.

German hit Oh Boy, Wadjda, the first feature ever to be entirely shot in Saudi Arabia and Canadian documentary Stories We Tell round out this year's selection of films that meet the competition requirements of being “cutting edge, audacious and courageous.”

“In both content and form, these twelve films are daring and original and exemplify the criteria for this official competition,” festival director Nashen Moodley said on Tuesday. “We feel very privileged that the great Australian actor Hugo Weaving will serve as the Jury President.”

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Moodley’s second festival as director will feature an expanded program of 190 films with an additional 38,000 seats released in an increased number of venues around Sydney.

"These are some of the best productions from all over the world that we have in store for you; the films Australia will be hearing about, talking about and arguing about over the next year. You'll see them here first."

Mystery Road, an outback murder mystery centering on the deaths of two Aboriginal girls and starring Aaron Pedersen, Jack Thompson and Ryan Kwanten is one of a handful of Australian films having their world or Australian premieres at the festival, while the continued success of indigenous filmmakers like Sen on the world stage will be showcased in a new sidebar, Screen: Black.

Moodley has retained a number of the festival's more popular side bars, including "Sounds On Screen" and "Freak Me Out," while a retrospective of British cinema, "Brit Noir" and "New Features from Austria" will be new additions this year. 

Other highlights of the festival, which runs from Jun. 5-16, include the Australian premiere of Korean director Park Chan-wook’s Stoker -- which Park and star Mia Wasikowska will present at the fest -- and Toni Collette's new feature Way, Way Back.

The festival will close with feel-good musical documentary, Twenty Feet From Stardom.

Disney Pixar’s Monsters University will also have its Australian premiere in a gala screening on June 10.

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