And It Begins... Sydney Film Festival 2012

5 June 2012 | 12:06 pm | Daniel Crichton Rouse

Another year, another Drum Media guide to the Sydney Film Festival – one of our favourite things to compile, to be honest. Daniel Crichton-Rouse looks chips away at the tip of the iceberg of what’s happening at this year’s festival.

The rain has begun, which can only mean one thing; it's Sydney Film Festival time. Without a doubt, every year you can expect this city's greatest film festival to be greeted by miserable weather. But hey, that just makes for perfect cinema-going experiences.

The State Theatre's back in full use this year, even though it might not look that way if you've walked past late, but it is! Swears. It says so in the festival guide. In fact, of the dozen or so screenings we've lined up already only three are being held elsewhere. Sure, you can go and see gigs at the State throughout the year, but there's something magical about June and the fact that during this month it becomes just another cinema – albeit an incredibly beautiful one. Event ain't got nothin' on it.

With new festival director Nashen Moodley programming, gone are the dogs, gone are the strands connecting films together (well, not entirely – there's “Sex & Eroticism” to be found if you look hard enough. Or, you know, you just happen to stumble upon it).

The film highlights are many, but for most it'll all be about Moonrise Kingdom, the new Wes Anderson joint. Familiar names such as Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are there, but largely it's a foreign cast for the Texan filmmaker, who's called upon the likes of Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Bruce Willis(!) for his cast this time. The plot's quintessential Anderson: two young (children-young) lovers flee town, which results in a search party trying to track them down. The soundtrack's rather highbrow once again, with a score by Alexandre Desplat (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Tree Of Life) and plenty of classical music, including – aptly – The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra.

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The Bertolucci retrospective is a must-see too (even if all the screenings are at breakfast and it's missing The Conformist). If you're yet to see the likes of The Dreamers, 1900, Last Tango In Paris or Before The Revolution on the big screen then you should definitely make the effort to get up early on the weekends. For other highlights, check out Drum Picks (with trailers and everything!).

But the festival's much more than simply screenings. You can get up close and personal with Bryan Brown in conversation with David Stratton for this year's Ian Macpherson Memorial Lecture at Event Cinemas, and there will be talks from filmmakers such as Cate Shortland (Lore, Somersault), Philippe Falardeau (Monsieur Lazhar), Tony Krawitz, Emile Sherman and Liz Watts (Dead Europe).

Then there's the Festival Hub, taking over the basement of Sydney Town Hall and filling it with all sorts of cool things, like live music, cabaret, cinema burlesque, comedy, talks, DJs, screenings and an exhibition of film portraits by Fabrizio Maltese. This too, is where you might spot a filmmaker, or three, and be able to break the ice over an offer of beer.

So hit up the festival's website or app to book some tickets. See you at the State.