Sydney Film Prize lineup set

U.K., Aussie films dominate inaugural competition

SYDNEY -- Three films from the U.K. and two new Australian features headline the 12 entries chosen to compete for the Sydney Film Festival’s inaugural international Sydney Film Prize, organizers said Thursday.

Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," will open the festival on June 4 and compete with two other U.K. films, Steve McQueen's "Hunger" and Martin McDonagh's "In Bruges." Leigh is the first of the international guests to confirm he will attend.

Also competing are Fernando Eimbcke's "Lake Tahoe" (Mexico), Guy Maddin's "My Winnipeg" (Canada), Antonello Grimaldi's "Quiet Chaos" (Italy), Carlos Reygada's "Silent Light" (France), Kimberly Peirce's "Stop-Loss" (USA) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s "Tokyo Sonata" (Japan).

Two first-time Aussie directors will compete, too: Nash Edgerton with "The Square," and Matthew Newton with "Three Blind Mice." New Zealand director Vincent Ward’s new feature "Rain of the Children," rounds out the list of competitors.

The Aussie and Kiwi films will have their world premieres in the competition screenings, set for the first 12 days of the 18-day festival.

Clare Stewart, the festival's executive director said competition films were chosen for their "emotional power and resonance."

The festival's full program will be announced next week and its competition jury -- two Australians and three international guests -- will be announced at the Cannes Film Festival.

The winner of the inaugural Sydney Film Festival competition, the first of its kind in Australia to be accredited by FIAPF, the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, will be announced at the Sydney Opera House on June 16. The winner will receive AUS$60,000 ($56,400) in cash.