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Kelly Reichardt’s female-led drama Certain Women will compete against Palme d’Or contender Aquarius and local director Ivan Sen’s outback noir feature Goldstone, starring Jacki Weaver and David Wenham, for the Sydney Film Festival’s annual AUS$60,000 ($44,200) Sydney Film Prize.
The 12 titles in competition at the upcoming event, which is set to run June 8-June 19, were unveiled Wednesday by festival director Nashen Moodley and include three more films screening at Cannes: Apprentice, Boo Jen Fung’s Singaporean portrait of prison executioners and inmates; Psycho Raman, Indian director Anurag Kashyups follow-up to The Gangs of Wasseypur; and Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of The World.
“Sydney Film Festival’s official competition is where audiences can experience some of the most exciting films and filmmakers in the world right now,” said Moodley. “The competition is a compelling program of 12 films that demonstrate the cutting edge of filmmaking, and this year’s selection offers some true surprises.”
Oliver Hermanus will bring his South African Western The Endless River to the competition, which also will include Venice Film Festival best debut feature winner Brady Corbet’s The Childhood of A Leader. Also competing are Martin Zandvilet’s Land of Mine, Portuguese helmer Ivo M. Ferreira’s Letters of War, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Notes on Blindness and Viva by Irish filmmaker Paddy Breathnach.
Judging the competition films will be U.K. producer Simon Field, who will lead the jury as president; Australian writer-director-producer Robert Connolly; Dublin Film Festival director Grainne Humphrey; Sherpa producer Bridget Ikin; and Japanese documentary filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda.
Goldstone, also starring Aaron Pedersen and David Gulpillil, has been given the fest’s prized opening-night slot for its world premiere. The closing-night film is Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship, starring Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Stephen Fry and Australian actor Xavier Samuel.
Also getting special out-of-competition screenings are Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta and Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen and Australian actor Nicholas Hamilton.
Among the local films to get their premieres at the festival are Down Under, Abe Forsythe’s provocative black comedy, and Australian theater veteran Stephen Sewell’s directorial debut, the erotic political thriller Embedded, while blockbuster family films Ice Age: Collision Course and The BFG will have their Australian premieres at Sydney.
Over 240 films will unspool during the 63rd Sydney Film Festival, with sidebars covering Korean independent cinema, a focus on Ireland, film critic David Stratton’s retrospective of Martin Scorsese’s works and “European Cinema: 10 Women Filmmakers to Watch.”
“Sydney Film Festival has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with attendance increasing by over 59 percent to 176,000, since 2011,” said Moodley. “The festival allows audiences to explore new worlds, new perspectives and new ways of being. An exposure to unfamiliar places and ways of life is enlightening, and not only does it spark a change in our view but our whole world. This year we celebrate film’s ability to inspire new ideas and encourage new experiences.”
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