Sydney Film Festival: Our Picks

Sydney Film Festival returns in June for 12 jam-packed days of all things cinema. Not sure how to tackle the program? We’ve picked our must-sees for the festival.

By Catherine Knight

Inside the State Theatre for Sydney Film Festival

The Hub at Town Hall

Sydney Town Hall is the heart of the festival. Stop by the Sydney Film Festival Hub for Virtual Reality experiences, themed parties with live bands and DJ sets, talks, panels, art exhibitions and $10 pop- up film screenings.

The Milky Pop Kid, directed by Johanna Garvin

Screenability program

See films about people with disability made by filmmakers with disability. The Screenability program presents the best of Australian and international talent, showcasing emerging and established artists with a range perspectives and stories to tell about disability. The program is a testament to how our film landscape is enriched by a diversity of voices. The festival offers a host of accessibility services for their screenings.

Iris Apfel in Dries

The Bluffer’s Guide… essential insights into cinema

The City of Sydney Library and Sydney Film Festival have joined forces to bring you The Bluffer’s Guide – a series of free talks held in libraries this May. Hear about the inner workings of the festival and how films are selected and brought to our screens. You’ll be sure to walk away with some unique tidbits and sneak peaks into Sydney’s biggest film festival. Book tickets to Freak me Out and It’s True for an insight into the horror and documentary programming.

Experience Virtual Reality

Find yourself plunged into a narrative as a puppet, a monster under the bed or floating alongside the earth’s orbit. Make sure you book a spot in advance because these virtual reality sessions are sure to be popular.

Our Five Most-Anticipated Films

My Life as a Zucchini

We Don’t Need a Map
The festival opens with this stellar Australian documentary. Award winning director of Samson and Delilah Warwick Thornton brings us this doco with a bite. The film interrogates the changing meanings of the Southern-Cross star symbol. Thornton explores issues of racism, Australian identity and the traditional Aboriginal histories surrounding the constellation. The documentary is deeply funny, provocative and enlightening. We Don’t Need a Map is part of a 12 film program focus on First Nations filming.
It plays on the opening night and two subsequent sessions. Get in early because this festival favourite will sell out fast.

Another Australian favourite and a highlight of the Screenability program, Pulse is the semi-autobiographical debut film from Daniel Monks. The stylish sci-fi drama follows a young gay man with a physical disability whose mind is medically transplanted into the body of an able-bodied pretty blonde girl. The film explores the classic coming of age themes of unrequited love, teenage angst, and insecurity, through the prism of Monks’ disability and LGBTIQ identity.

Better Watch Out
Our favourite spooky flick of the festival is the dark Christmas movie Better Watch Out. Director Chris Peckover crafts a classic baby-sitter slasher with dry black humour and chilling thrills thrown in. We don’t want to give away anymore but this is a must-see for horror fans!

Pop Aye
When some people have a midlife crisis they buy a new car, but Thana, an architect frustrated with his life and work, buys an elephant named Pop Aye and embarks on an adventure across Thailand. With his new companion in hand, or rather in trunk, he journeys back to his hometown, landing in new and unexpected situations along the way. The film is surreal, sweet and funny, and offers an irreverent take on the buddy movie.
Pop Aye received the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting and is director Kirsten Tan’s first film.

My Life as a Zucchini
Kids will love Oscar-nominated Swiss-French feature My Life as a Zucchini. This charming stop-motion animation follows a scrappy bunch of orphans as they get up to mischief, learn about one another’s hard-ships and begin to build their own new sense of family. Funny and heart-warming, the film will entertain the whole family.

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