Sydney Film Festival offers host of premieres

16 world first and 135 Australian firsts star

SYDNEY -- A mix of highly commercial films and specialist fare, a focus on Mexican and Chinese cinema, made-for-mobile-phone short films and a tribute to actress Deborah Kerr are programmed for the 55th Sydney Film Festival.

SFF will feature more than 200 films, opening with Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," the Australian premiere of DreamWorks Animation's' "Kung Fu Panda" and the closing-night film, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Academy Award-nominated animation film "Persepolis."

"Panda" star Jack Black and DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg are set to hit the red carpet on the festival's second night, while other filmmakers confirmed to attend include Vincent Ward, Steve McQueen, Kiroshi Kurasawa and Kim Pearce.

With an eye to broadening the festival's audience, 16 world premieres and 135 Australian premieres, including the 12 films nominated for the festival's inaugural international competition, will unspool June 4-22.

All 18 Australian films scheduled are world or Australian premieres and include the Sino-Australian co-production "Children of the Silk Road; Scott Hicks' docu "Glass: a Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts"; coming-of-age surf movie "Newcastle"; and Benjamin Gilmour's "Son of a Lion."

The World Views sidebar will show more than 60 films, including "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" based on John Morrison's memoir; Michael Haneke's American remake of his own thriller "Funny Games" with Naomi Watts; Lech Majewski's "Glass Lips"; and Brazilian actioner "Elite Squad," winner of best film at this year's Berlin film festival.