By Mark Morellini
Many film festivals around the world have unfortunately been cancelled owing to the COVID-19 lockdowns, but the 67th Sydney Film Festival returns as a virtual event screening a concise program of 33 films. There will be seven feature films, 13 documentaries, and 13 shorts collectively in four sections, which will all be competing for the prestigious awards.
Festival director Nashen Moodley explained that it was traumatic having to cancel the in-cinema festival, but he was determined to do something to support the Australian and international film industries.
“We wanted to maintain the connection with our audience but initially we had no idea how we’d go about that because a virtual film festival had never been done before. We had to do a lot of research and find the right platform. It was a lot of work even though we were screening approximately 10% of what we normally screen. It’s not about the number of films but about the different ways of finding and working the system and the negotiations with the filmmakers.”
Moodley said there is the possibility that the virtual edition of this film festival may attract a whole new audience who had previously never attended the cinematic festival.
“What this virtual festival has enabled is that the festival is nationwide rather than just Sydney based, so people, wherever they are in Australia, can access the virtual edition. That’s a fantastic thing and a chance to expand our audience this year to people who may have wanted to come to this film festival but were never able. They can get a small taste of the territorial style and atmosphere of the festival.”
This year for obvious reasons there won’t be an opening or closing night, or any red-carpet premieres but there will be a virtual awards ceremony where the prize-winners in the four sections will be announced.
Can film festival enthusiasts expect the Sydney Film Festival back in cinemas next year? “I really hope so but of course before we go back into cinemas it needs to be safe to do so and hopefully people will have the enthusiasm to return to cinemas.”
There are films for all tastes and the following are three films should prove quite popular:
Morgana. This controversial and sexually explicit Australian documentary may divide conventional audiences owing to the sensitive subject matter.
Morgana Muses divorced her husband and at the age of 47 became a middle-aged porn star. She was disowned by her European family in Albury who expected her to get married, have children, and live a conservative life to the respectable codes of society.
This documentary explores Morgana’s journey into the feminist porn movement. Re-inventing herself, she believed that life was not over at the age of 50. Her award-winning films, which have screened at festivals all around the world, have inspired audiences of all ages and her notoriety has led her to the Berlin Porn Film Festival.
Engaging interviews with authors, sex educators, and porn stars give credence to Morgana’s ideology that women should not have an expiry date and should not have to adhere to society’s expectations.
Morgana said “she’ll keep the pleasure going” but it’s up to audiences to decide whether she’s ridiculous or fabulous. ★★★
Kids Run. Popular German actor Jannis Niewohner plays the role of Andi, a single father of three young children and deemed a loser, who will stop at nothing to achieve his dream – to win over his estranged girlfriend and form a loving family once again.
The harder he tries the more obstacles he encounters and the lower he sinks. A failed boxer on the verge of desperation, he ultimately enters an amateur boxing tournament, hoping to win the €5000 prize money.
Raw and gritty this boxing drama should appeal to all audiences, especially boxing enthusiasts, as there are many harrowing scenes in the boxing ring. Themes of love and hope for a better future filter through the morbid reality of this man’s existence.
Real characters and situations transpire a relatable film with powerful performances from a fine cast. This is one of the film festival’s must-see films which audiences won’t soon forget! ★★★★
Lessons Of Love. From Poland comes this documentary which explores new beginnings and new possibilities after an elderly woman leaves her aggressive and womanising husband of 45 years in a loveless and abusive marriage.
An elegant lady who believes that refined dressing and makeup are essential for all women questions the validity of sacred marriage vows ‘for better or for worse’, proclaiming she has suffered long and hard because of these words.
The camera follows her around as she contemplates a better life, taking singing and dancing lessons and meeting new people as she discusses divorcing her husband and embarking on a new relationship.
This is a documentary without narrations or interviews but is uniquely intertwined with conversational, dramatic, and soapy elements as in mainstream feature films. Audiences will be left pondering whether the dialogue is adlibbed or scripted and most importantly whether the people portrayed in this film are real or fictional. Lessons Of Love is engaging and perfectly contrasts a woman’s old and new life ultimately questioning, are there second chances in happiness and love? ★★★ ½
Jun 10-21. On Demand. $14 (per film) or $199 (access full festival package) Tickets & Info: www.sff.org.au