Arts & Entertainment

69TH SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL

The 2022 iteration of the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) marks its 69th outing. Throughout the course of the 11 day festival Sydneysiders will have the chance to view over 200 films from 64 countries including 27 world premieres. The curation team behind the festival have taken great care to find 101 feature films, many of which are international prize winners, and 53 documentaries.

Nashen Moodley, Festival Director of the 69th Sydney Film Festival, sat down recently to speak with City Hub and explained that it’s great to return to the festival’s traditional June dates.

“Of course, we hope very much to have no issues, but to know that our Sydney community can come together like this after 3 years is an overwhelming feeling of joy for the Festival team. This year’s program films have responded to the tough times of the pandemic, war, and rising authoritarianism with many features about love and joy.”

The SFF is the longest running film festival in the world and is also one of the most highly respected. “It’s an important platform for filmmakers, local and international for a plethora of reasons and we endeavour to include the perspectives and voices of filmmakers of various life experiences and backgrounds. The festival is also an opportunity for filmmakers and film lovers to connect, a wonderful platform for young Australian filmmakers and it’s a way to celebrate art and Australia’s culture,” explained Moodley.

“VERY QUEER, VERY SYDNEY” FILMS ON THE BIG SCREEN

Craig Boreham is another Australian filmmaker whose career has been enhanced by the SFF. He had success with his initial feature Teenage Kicks in 2016 which screened at the SFF and now he’s delighted that Lonesome, his second feature, has also been chosen to screen at this year’s festival.

Lonesome tells the story of a young man (Josh Lavery) who leaves a small country town for Sydney. He connects and has an intense sexual encounter with another man (Daniel Gabriel) whom he meets through an app. It’s the story of two men who come together.

“A relationship develops but neither of them are particularly equipped to have a relationship and it’s mostly about these two lost souls falling together and making something of it,” explained Boreham who wrote, directed, and co-produced the film. “The story deals with things that I like to explore, sexuality, power, and desire – all the good stuff!

“These two characters came from two short scripts I had written, and I had an idea of what it would be like if they were thrown in together in one script. The story also has bits and pieces of real people and reflections of my own stories. It’s not uncommon for rural queer people to make their way to the big city because it’s just easier for them to be amongst their own people.”

Boreham describes Lonesome as a contemporary love story, very Sydney, very queer and is adamant it’s for all audiences regardless of their sexual persuasion. “We had the premiere in Seattle to mixed audiences and it went down very well. I wrote it in such a way that it was from the point of view of a queer eye so in some ways straight audiences have to catch up because a few things aren’t spelt out, but nobody seems to struggle.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SHOWCASED AT SFF

When asked whether the SFF opens doors for local filmmakers Boreham was quick to respond. “It really does as it puts your work on the map. The SFF has an international reputation and just having your film in the program makes other festival programmers around the world take notice. This is also the first time that my film has played at the State Theatre and that’s been a lifelong ambition!”

KIWI FILMS MAKING THEIR WAY ACROSS THE DITCH

Jackie van Beek is a New Zealand filmmaker who has also found success at the SFF. Her 2nd film project to screen at the festival is Nude Tuesday which she co-wrote and starred in. The film screens at the SFF from June 10 and opens nationally in cinemas on June 23.

Nude Tuesday is an Australian/ New Zealand comedy about a conservative but dysfunctional suburban couple who attend a new age camp hoping that the experience will ultimately save their marriage. Beek plays Laura and Damon Herriman plays her husband Bruno.

“There have been so many stories told about dysfunctional marriages in movies and I came up with the idea of in terms of the miscommunication being a theme, what if we perform it in a language that nobody understands? The entire film is spoken in a gibberish language which unlocks the door to absurdity.”

Beek explained that the humour in her latest film differs from that of her previous film The Breaker Upperers another comedy she co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred in that opened the SFF in 2018.

“It’s a different flavour of comedy. The Breaker Upperers was such a fun, colourful and playful comedy whereas Nude Tuesday is more absurd and because we’re all speaking in gibberish it doesn’t necessarily feel like an Australasian film.”

Beek is honoured to have the world premiere of her latest film at the SFF. “I was so delighted and then to find out it was going to screen at the State Theatre it was even more delightful. The adrenalin is already pumping as it’s so exciting!”

SFF IS MORE THAN JUST FILM SCREENINGS

She also agrees that having a film screen at the SFF can open doors for all filmmakers behind and in front of the cameras. “My experience with film festivals has been fantastic in terms of their incredible networking opportunities and the opportunities to see films from around the world. Often there are master classes and other things that run along the festivals, and I fully embrace those festival opportunities.”

And what audience should this film appeal to? “People who love comedy and given the gibberish element it should also appeal to people who love language and who enjoy going to those off the wall, unusual and unexpected films often programmed at film festivals – basically to a courageous audience!”

HOT PICKS

BLAZE – Aussie drama that centers on a teenager who, after witnessing a horrific crime, releases her make-believe dragon as a way of moving on. Stars Simon Baker and directed by Australian artist and twice winner of the Archibald Prize, Del Kathryn Barton.

FIRE OF LOVE – From the USA comes this exhilarating documentary filmed over two decades by geochemist Katia and geologist Maurice Krafft before their ultimate demise in 1991 owing to a volcanic explosion on Japan’s Mount Unzen.

SERIOUSLY RED – A charming comedy from Australia which revolves around a redhead who gives up her day job to become a Dolly Parton impersonator. Elvis, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers and Kylie impersonators all join in on the fun. Overloaded with Dolly hits the film stars Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale.

INTO THE ICE – this Danish documentary explores the ice surrounds of Greenland and will captivate audiences as three scientists try to answer questions about our future climate. Visually stunning this documentary must be seen on the big screen.

Until Jun 19. State Theatre & Various Other Venues. $14-$170+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sff.org.au

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