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:: Spotlight :: 2010 Sydney Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

In a first for Australian moviegoers, Sydney Film Festival patrons will be able to purchase and receive tickets on their iPhone. No more waiting in queues or relying on computers or printers for your tickets – at the Festival in June you simply present your iPhone at the cinema door to scan a ticket barcode and go into a session. Films such as Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, John C. Reilly’s new comedy Cyrus or the new documentary showcasing Joan Rivers in her 75th year Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, will only be a flick of your finger away.

Named SFF2010, the new application – which is set to change the way audiences purchase tickets for festivals, events and cinemas – was developed by Australian software development company eFirst. It will be available free to download from the Apple AppStore and iTunes on Wednesday, May 5.

Jenny Neighbour, Sydney Film Festival Program Manager, said, "We are very excited to partner with eFirst to provide this fun development for our patrons. Our priority is to ensure our audiences have easy access to the program and purchasing tickets and our own iPhone app ensures we are moving with rapidly developing technology to ensure that happens.”

Receiving purchased tickets in the form of a barcode should take less than a minute after installation of the app and data. It will make ticket purchases easier and make attending the Festival more flexible and spontaneous for all film-lovers.

Accessing the SFF2010 app will enable users to interact with the Sydney Film Festival in the palm of their hands. Features include:
•Browse and search the 2010 program by date, venue, pathway and country
•Watch film trailers
•Browse daily ‘What's On’ at the festival
•Identify sessions that are selling fast
•Keep up to date with the Festival’s Official Competition
•Get the latest festival news and gossip with one-touch access to Sydney Film Festival’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels
•Buy tickets securely on credit card
•Access paperless tickets: purchased tickets will be sent direct to your iPhone as barcodes, for scanning and entry at the cinema door

The new app links to Festival venues including the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays and the Art Gallery of NSW.

The SFF2010 iPhone App, built with Apple's Xcode development software and written in Objective C, allowed eFirst to build the app onto their ticketing system software. The app communicates to the ticketing system via web requests encrypted with SSL and allows you to browse, select and buy tickets to sessions, and make payment securely via credit card. Once sessions are purchased, a 2D QR barcode which represents each ticket is downloaded into the phone and can be scanned at the cinema door from the face of the phone by using Wifi-connected, hand-held scanners. Duplicate barcodes are rejected at the cinema door by the scanning technology.

Tech-savvy audiences will benefit from the flexibility, convenience and time saving of the SFF2010 app, enabling spontaneous and comprehensive access to the nation’s leading film festival.

The full program for the 57th Sydney Film Festival, June 2-14 2010, will be announced on Wednesday, May 5 2010.

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**Update as May 7, 2010**

The Sydney Film Festival (SFF) has announced the Official Program for the 2010 Festival, which runs from June 2-14, 2010. The festival program will include winning films from international film festivals, Australian Premieres, World Premieres and much more.

Overview
• 157 Films from 47 Countries
• 92 Australian Premieres
• 7 World Premieres
• 2 International Premieres
• 8 new Australian feature films, 9 documentaries and 12 shorts
• Winning films from various international film festivals including Venice (Lebanon), Toronto (Cairo Time), Sundance (Winter’s Bone) and Berlin (Honey)
• Academy Award® nominated films including Ajami, The Messenger and The Most Dangerous Man in America

Opening Night Gala
The 2010 Festival kicks off with the World Premiere of Shirley Barrett’s South Solitary on Wednesday June 2 at 7.30pm. Shirley Barrett’s distinctive filmmaking is underpinned by elegant storytelling and an intoxicating, playful tone.

South Solitary
Meredith (Miranda Otto) arrives on a remote island with her cantankerous uncle (Barry Otto) who is charged with improving the performance of its resident lighthouse keepers – rogue charmer Harry (Rohan Nichol) and smouldering loner Fleet (Marton Csokas). However Meredith’s sunny disposition is not enough to dissipate some very bad weather, nor save her from the consequences of a little misadventure.

Official Competition
The third year of SFF’s Official Competition brings another line-up of courageous, audacious and cutting edge cinema to Sydneysiders.

The Official Competition is supported by the NSW Government through Events New South Wales and the winning film receives a $60,000 cash prize, the largest cash award for film in Australia. As previously announced, 2010 Jury President is Australian Producer Jan Chapman whose extraordinary list of credits includes The Piano, Lantana and most recently, Bright Star. Jan will be joined by Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper. The three remaining jurors will be announced in the lead up to the festival.

“The 2010 Official Competition line-up is set to take Sydney by storm – daring, commanding films that have already made a splash on the world’s best screens alongside a significant Australian discovery and films that will be unleashed at 63rd Cannes Film Festival next week” says Festival Director, Clare Stewart.

Featured in this year’s Official Competition line-up include:
• Three films direct from 2010 Cannes Film Festival – including Cannes Closing Night film, Julie Bertucelli’s Australian/French Co-Production The Tree, along with Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (screening in Cannes Official Competition) and Canadian Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats (screening in Un Certain Regard);
• The World Premiere of Ben C Lucas’s explosive debut feature Wasted on the Young;
• Australian Premieres of films by renowned directors – including Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime, Brillante Mendoza’s Lola and celebrated Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s Women Without Men;
• Chris Morris’ outrageous comedy Four Lions and Raoul Peck’s searing Haitian satire Moloch Tropical;
• Berlin Film Festival winners from Russia, How I Ended this Summer and Romania, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.

Confirmed guests for the Official Competition:
• Pegah Ferydoni (actress, Women Without Men)
• Ben C Lucas (director, Wasted on the Young)
• Brilliante Mendoza (director, Lola) and Raymond H. Nullan (supporting actor, Lola)
• Raoul Peck (director, Moloch Tropical)
• Chris Morris (director, Four Lions)
• Christine K Walker (producer, Life During Wartime)

More guests to be announced in the lead-up to the festival.

Closing Night
After 13 days of glamour, excitement and debate, the festival will host its Closing Night Gala on Public Holiday Monday 14 June with an Awards ceremony and the Australian Premiere of The Kids Are All Right,directed by Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon) and featuring superb performances from Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska.

The Kids Are All Right
Sexy, droll and just occasionally heartrending, Lisa Cholodenko’s third feature is a delightfully sneaky twist on both family drama and romantic comedy. Jules (Julianne Moore), Nic (Annette Bening) and their teenage kids Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson) lead an untroubled, joy-filled existence in the hills of Los Angeles until Laser encourages Joni to approach the sperm bank and seek out their biological father. It turns out that Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a laid-back organic gardener and restaurateur, has a great motorbike and a limited concept of responsibility to go with it.

For more information visit here

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**Update as at June 1, 2010**

Sydney Film Festival is proud to announce a boost to its talks and forums line-up with an array of guests invited to discuss political themes and the creative process of filmmaking. Following on from the recent release of renowned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi after two and a half months inside Tehran’s Evin prison, Sydney Film Festival turns its focus to the highly topical subject of alternative Iranian cinema. Announcing a strong panel line-up for an in-depth look at making films against all odds, this discussion follows the 2.00pm screening of No One Knows About Persian Cats at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday June 12.

SFF is also excited to announce that French director Julie Bertucelli and Australian producer Sue Taylor will participate in an Official Competition talk on Sunday June 6 about their film The Tree, which was the Closing Night selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Judith Ehrlich, Director of the Academy Award-nominated The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, will now join in conversation with renowned ABC News Radio journalist John Barron, directly after the screening on June 10. This follows the announcement that Judith Ehrlich will give this year’s Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture on the role of documentary film as a lens on the state of war on June 11.

Saturday June 12 at 3.45pm – Sydney Opera House FREE
Against the Odds – Alternate Iranian Cinema

In this highly revealing seminar, panelists will discuss how Iranian filmmakers manage to get their vision on-screen in spite of the odds.

Iranian cinema has earned many international accolades since Abbas Kiarostami took home a Golden Palm in 1997 and Jafar Panahi a Golden Lion in 2000. But the stories of the difficulties besetting Iranian filmmakers wanting to work outside the proscribed boundaries for ‘Islamic’ cinema – censorship, bannings and subterfuge – are legion. Jafar Panahi’s recent jailing was allegedly because he was making a film against the regime.

This year Sydney Film Festival screens two highly political films, both banned in Iran. From diaspora filmmaker and artist Shirin Neshat, Women without Men will screen in Official Competition at SFF on June 10 and 11. No One Knows About Persian Cats, screening June 5 and 12, delves into the Iranian underground music scene. Filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi has gone into exile since the making of this film.

Sunday June 6 at 12.00pm – Statement Lounge FREE
The Tree
Official Competition

Julie Rigg (ABC Radio National, Movietime) talks to director Julie Bertucelli and producer Sue Taylor about The Tree (screening at SFF on 5 and 6 June), the French/Australian co-production that was selected as Closing Night film at Cannes Film Festival this year.

Julie Bertucelli started her film career as an assistant director, working with acclaimed directors such as
Krzysztof Keislowski, Bertrand Tavernier, Otto Iosseliani and Emmanuel Finkiel. She has also directed several highly regarded documentaries. Her feature debut, Since Otar Left went on to win several major awards including the Grand Prize at Critics Week, at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004 and a Cesar Award for Best First Film.

Sue Taylor’s credits cover the full range of production, including documentary (Vegie Wars, Diamond’s Are A Girls’ Best Friend, Fungimentary) children’s dramas (Minty, WildKat, Southern Cross, Timetrackers), mini-series (The Shark Net), telemovie (3 Acts of Murder) and feature film (Last Train to Freo). She has been nominated for several AFI and Logie awards and was awarded the SPAA Drama Producer of the year in 2004.

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**Update as at June 14, 2010**

Sydney Film Festival Jury President, Jan Chapman announced “Heartbeats” as the winner of the 2010 Sydney Film Prize at the State Theatre during the closing gala of the Festival. The Sydney Film Prize is awarded to Heartbeats directed by Xavier Dolan.

Jan said, "With a witty and insightful script and strikingly playful use of cinematic language, the jury found Heartbeats to be a boldly truthful and compassionate observation of one of the great crippling foibles of human nature – the hopeless crush. The jury would also like to give honourable mentions to two films which in very different ways embody the spirit of this competition – courageous, audacious and cutting-edge – and they are How I Ended This Summer and Wasted on the Young.”

Screening direct from Un Certain Regard at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival and making its Australian premiere at the festival, Heartbeats is directed and written by French-Canadian Xavier Dolan, produced by Xavier Dolan, Daniel Morin and Carole Mondello. Heartbeats is Xavier Dolan’s second film and playfully explores themes of wilful delusion, rejection and the politics of the competitive and unrequited crush. Francis (played by the filmmaker himself) and Marie (Monia Chokri) are a couple of drop-dead gorgeous twenty-something hipsters whose friendship is rocked when they both fall for Nicolas (Niels Schneider).

Australian Producer (Jury President) Jan Chapman, Hong Kong Director Yonfan, Australian Director Shirley Barrett, Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper and British Director Lucy Walker were the members of the Jury for the $AUD60,000 2010 Sydney Film Prize.

The 12 Official Competition films were:

• Four Lions, Dir Christopher Morris – Australian Premiere
• Heartbeats, Dir-Scr Xavier Dolan - Australian Premiere / Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2010
• How I Ended This Summer, Dir-Scr Alexej Popogrebski - Australian Premiere / Winner Best Actor(shared) Outstanding Artistic Achievement (camera), Berlin Film Festival 2010
• If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, Dir Florin Serban - Australian Premiere / Winner Grand Jury Prize,Berlin Film Festival 2010
• The Killer Inside Me, Dir Michael Winterbottom - Australian Premiere
• Life During Wartime, Dir-Scr Todd Solondz - Australian Premiere / Winner, Best Screenplay,Venice 2009
• Lola, Dir Brillante Mendoza - Australian Premiere / Winner Best Film Dubai and Miami International Film Festivals
• Moloch Tropical, Dir- Prod Raoul Peck - Australian Premiere
• The Tree, Dir-Scr Julie Bertucelli - Australian Premiere / Closing Night Film, Cannes 2010
• Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Dir-Scr Apichatpong Weerasethakul - AustralianPremiere / Official Competition, Cannes 2010
• Wasted on the Young, Dir-Scr Ben C. Lucas - World Premiere
• Women Without Men, Dir Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari – Australian Premiere / Winner, Best Director,Venice 2009

For more information, visit

www.sff.org.au