Sydney announces competition slate

Sydney, Melbourne fests may welcome film renaissance

SYDNEY -- Three Australian features have been selected for the Sydney Film Festival’s 2nd Official Competition, while Teri Hatcher and John Woo are set to walk the red carpet for the Australian premieres of “Coraline” and “Red Cliff” respectively, organizers said announcing the two-week long festival program Thursday.

Rachel Ward's debut feature “Beautiful Kate” and Khoa Do’s new film “Missing Water” will have their world premieres as part of the official competition, joining another previously announced local feature “Disgrace.” Ken Loach’s “Looking for Eric" will open the festival, and Tsia Ming-Lai’s “Face” (France-Taiwan) will have its international premiere.

Rounding out the competition are Peter Brosens and Jessica Hope Woodworth’s “Antiplano” (Belgium-Germany-Netherlands), Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Bronson” (UK), Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience” (USA), and Alexey German Jr’s Paper Soldier (Russia).
They join previously announced films in competition, “Coraline," Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delepine's "Louise-Michel" (France), and Sebastian Silva's "The Maid" (Chile).

Each competition film will screen on each night of the festival, with the winner announced before the closing night film, Lone Scherfig’s “An Education.”

SFF has also secured the world premiere of new Australian films, including David Caesar’s “Prime Mover.” Other local features to have their Australian premieres as part of the fest include Tatia Rosenthal’s animated feature “$9.99," voiced by Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia; Geena Davis starrer “Accidents Happen”; Glendyn Ivin’s “Last Ride”;  and Jonathan auf der Heide’s “Van Diemen’s Land”.

The line up of Australian films available for screening at the Sydney and upcoming Melbourne International Film Festival in July, mark what many are considering is a renaissance for Australian film.

MIFF last week announced that it will have the world premières of four Australian features, including Ana Kokkinos’ “Blessed”; Rachel Perkins’ “Bran Nue Dae”; Robert Connolly’s “Balibo”; and Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones, all partially funded by  MIFF’s Premiere Film Fund.

"There’s a real energy. With all the change going on at Government level and Screen Australia and so on, there's a sense of it being a new era and that's really present this year in the films,” Sydney Festival director Clare Stewart said at the launch of the program.

In all nine world premieres, three international and 86 Australian premieres will unspool during the festival, including: Claire Denis’ “35 Shots of Rum”; Stephen Frears’ “Cheri"; Catherine Breillat’s “Bluebeard"; Jerzy Skolimowski’s, “Four Nights with Anna”; Jim Jarmusch’s “The Limits of Control”; Abbas Kiarostami’s “Shirin”; and Hirokozu Kore-eda’s “Still Walking.”

The 56th annual Sydney Film festival runs June 3-14.