Sydney Film Festival unveils programme

9 May 2012 | 9:48 am | Daniel Crichton Rouse

Wes Anderson, Aubrey Plaza, On The Road, Keanu Reeves, Bernardo Bertolucci, Michael Haneke, Cate Shortland, Wuthering Heights. It's all there at SFF 2012.

The wait is over - the 2012 Sydney Film Festival programme has been announced. In his first year as festival director, Nashen Moodley has secured Cannes' opening night film (which would be Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom) screening the film a mere three weeks after its world premiere; shaken things up with a two-parter in the festival's Official Competition; and cemented the festival's dedication to Indigenous filmmaking with the Blackfella Films programme, which includes the world premiere of Rachel Perkins' Mabo.

First up is The Dreamer: Bertolucci Retrospective, a tribute to the Italian master Bernardo Bertolucci, and a chance for you to see his films on the big screen. Titles showing at SFF include Before The Revolution, The Spider's Stratagem, Last Tango In Paris, 1900, The Cinema According To Bertolucci, La Luna, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky, and (personal favourite) The Dreamers.

There will also be a focus on India and the legendary Japanese film studio Nippon Katsudo Shashin, AKA Nikkatsu. The Focus On India will showcase contemporary Indian cinema, whilst Nikkatsu 100 will celebrate the centenary of the studio's founding with a selection of (admittedly awesome looking) films, including A Colt Is My Passport and Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter.

Finally, a spotlight will be shone on Blackfella Films, the production company behind the highly anticipated feature Mabo, as well as a further seven films across features, documentaries, and shorts.

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And then there are the Sydney Film Festival tentpole films. So here we go:


Not Suitable For Children (Australia, dir. Peter Templeman)
What you need to know: Not Suitable For Children is set in Sydney's inner west and boasts a cast of talented young things, including Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), Daniel Henshall (Snowtown), Sarah Snook (Sleeping Beauty/Spirited), and Bojana Novakovic (Edge Of Darkness/Drag Me To Hell/most recently seen opposite Tim Rogers in Griffin Theatre Co.'s The Story Of Mary MacLane By Herself).



Safety Not Guaranteed (USA, dir. Colin Trevorrow)
What you need to know: Um. It stars Aubrey Plaza? That's enough, right? (*cough* Parks & Rec *uncough*) Also: Mark Duplass, who is much more famous by name than face but hey, still, famous indie bro is famous.



Alps (Greece, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
What you need to know: Director Yorgos Lanthimos likes making unsettling films – see Dogtooth, which picked up Un Certain Regard at Cannes a few years back and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Where that was about parents not letting their (grown up) children out of the house, Alps looks at a group of people who...offer those those recently bereaved.


Beasts Of Southern Wild (USA, dir. Benh Zeitlin)
What you need to know: It's described by Matt Ravier (Sydney Festival Hub curator and person whose opinion you take seriously) as “what I wanted Where The Wild Things Are to be”. Sold.


Caesar Must Die (Italy, dir. Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani)
What you need to know: Italian prisoners put on a performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, but this is no farce. The filmmakers have a strong history, including Palme d'Or winner Padre Padrone.


Dead Europe (Australia, dir. Tony Krawitz)
What you need to know: Director is responsible for The Tall Man, and the cast includes award-winning thespian Ewan Leslie (pictured below), Marton Csokas (The Lord Of The Rings/The Bourne Supremacy), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road). Oh yeah, and it's an adaptation of a novel by Christos 'The Slap' Tsiolkas, too.


Gangs Of Wasseypur (India, dir. Anurag Kashyap)
What you need to know: It clocks in at just over five hours in total, but will screen in two parts. It's an epic Indian saga about a decades-long feud between two families "involved in coal mining and organised crime".


The King Of Pigs (South Korea, dir. Yuen Sang-ho)
What you need to know: This is for those who like their animation dark. Has hints of the Japanese anime series Paranoia Agent as well as the British Monkey Dust. Therefore, it will more than likely rule.

Lore (Australia/Germany, dir. Cate Shortland)
What you need to know: It's the second film from Cate Shortland, director of Somersault, and explores the lives of the young in Germany in the wake of World War II. That's Lore (played by Saskia Rosendahl) below.


Monsieur Lazhar (Canada, dir. Pilippe Falardeau)
What you need to know: This is a story of a relief teacher who forges a strong bond with his students. In other words, you're going to need to work on your "No, no, it's just raining on my face" lines.

Neighbouring Sounds (Brazil, dir. Kleber Mendoça Filho)
What you need to know: A security firm disrupts the harmony in a middle-class Brazilian neighbourhood. The trailer's a sobering display of both how omnipresent surveillance is and also our desensitisation towards violence.


On The Road (USA, dir. Walter Salles)
What you need to know: We have here the long-awaited film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's novel of the same name, hands down one of the most influential books of all time. Plus, it's directed by the guy behind The Motorcycle Diaries, and stars Kristen Stewart, who owns it on screen when she's not being Bella Swan. It also stars Viggo Mortenson, that young one from Tron: Legacy, and the chap who played Ian Curtis in Control.


Tabu (Portugal/Germany/Brazil/France, dir. Miguel Gomes)
What you need to know: Has the potential to be the arthouse crossover hit of 2012. Director Miguel Gomes (who will be in attendance at the Official Competition screening) made a name for himself with 2008's Our Beloved Month Of August before Tabu received acclaim at Berlinale this year. Shot in black and white and referencing cinema of yore, this'll appeal to fans of The Artist.


Today (France/Senegal, dir. Alain Gomis)
What you need to know: The film is about a man in perfect health who wakes up one morning with the realisation that he will not wake up tomorrow. And that man is Saul Williams.



Amour (France/Austria/Germany, dir. Michael Haneke)
What you need to know: Well, if you're a fan of Austrian auteur Michael Haneke (Funny Games/The White Ribbon/Hidden), his name should be enough to gain your attention. Otherwise, the fact that Amour stars Isabelle Huppert should (also: Certified Copy's William Shimell). Whilst its plotline may not be the most exciting in the director's oeuvre (it concerns old age and relationships), you should definitely pay attention.

Brave (USA, dir. Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)
What you need to know: It's Pixar's latest film! That's all you need to know. Watch the trailer, if you haven't already.


The Comedy (USA, dir. Rick Alverson)
What you need to know: It's a drama about hipsters starring Tim and Eric. Yes, that Tim and Eric. (Also features James Murphy and folks from The Shins and Okkervil River.)


Hemel (Netherlands/Spain, dir. Sacha Polak)
What you need to know: "During her nightly escapades Hemel searches for the difference between sex and love." And whilst that sounds like the plotline from a 1980s softcore porn video, it's actually a rather good looking film - sophisticated, like. (Note: The trailer's NSFW if your company employees Dutch people.)


Headshot (Thailand/France, dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang)
What you need to know: It's a Thai film about a man who sees the world upside down, and is hired to be a hitman. Cinematography looks tip top.


L (Greece, dir. Babis Makridis)
What you need to know: A bizarre looking film about a man who lives in his car; his sole job collecting honey for a narcoleptic man. Yep.


Liberal Arts (USA, dir. Jos Radnor)
What you need to know: Two words - Elizabeth Olsen.


Moonrise Kingdom (USA, dir. Wes Anderson)
What you need to know: True to form, Wes Anderson - one of the most unique American filmmakers of his generation - has collected together a fine ensemble cast - Bruce Willis! Edward Norton! Bill Murray! Tilda Swinton! Frances McDormand! Harvey Keitel! Jason Schwarzman! etc.! - to tell the story of two young lovers who flee their hometown only to have their parents form a search party.


Wuthering Heights (UK, dir. Andrea Arnold)
What you need to know: Based on Emily Brontë's book. Andrea Arnold directed the incredible Fish Tank. Skins' Kaya Scodelario (Effy) is Catherine Earnshaw.



Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (USA/China, dir. Alison Klayman)


The British Guide To Showing Off (UK, dir. Jes Benstock)


Dreams Of A Life (UK, dir. Carol Morley)


The Drum Media presents Marley (UK, dir. Kevin Macdonald)

Side By Side (USA, dir. Chris Kenneally)


Woody Allen: A Documentary (USA, dir. Robert B. Weide)


An extensive shorts programme will also feature, as will filmmaker talks and other fine things. The 2012 Sydney Film Festival runs Wednesday 6 June to Sunday 17. Head to their website for more details.

Daniel Crichton-Rouse