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:: Spotlight :: 2013 Sydney Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The NSW Minister for the Arts, George Souris, recently launched a free online publication to celebrate the 60th year of the Sydney Film Festival. This groundbreaking initiative is a world-first, designed as a digital-only publication with thousands of pages of content and images, creating something so large it could never have been printed. Souris said, "This new digital archive is not only a comprehensive anthology of Sydney Film Festival and the Australian film industry, but it is also a celebration of Sydney and NSW as the nation’s hub of film and creative industries.”

To finance the new technology needed for the project, City of Sydney bestowed Sydney Film Festival with a special history grant through their History Publication Sponsorship Program. The online publication is relevant to the ongoing research and recording of the City of Sydney as a city of villages and as a global city.

“The City of Sydney is pleased to support this wonderful archive which shows how significant the festival’s impact has been to the evolution of the city’s cultural life over the past 60 years,” said Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore.

This ‘living archive’ was made possible through SFF’s partnership with digital pioneers Realview. “We are extremely excited and honoured to have been involved in Sydney Film Festival 1954 to Now: A Living Archive,” said Realview Digital CEO, Richard Lindley. “It really pushes the boundaries and showcases just what is possible in this exciting new media. Packed full of stories, videos, images and audio, beautifully laid out and accessible from desktops, laptops and tablets alike, it is sure to be a favourite destination for the film enthusiast now and into the future.”

“This free digital archive provides a thorough historical overview of the festival, which has challenged, delighted and entertained Sydneysiders for six decades,” said SFF’s Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “Within its pages you will find a multi-layered, multi-dimensional chronicle of Sydney Film Festival – its past, present and future, seen from many perspectives and told with many voices. It is an amazing resource full of multimedia, interviews and analysis of the history of the festival, its relationship to the local and international film industries, its position in cinema history and its role in the development of local art, culture and entertainment.”

Sydney Film Festival 1954 to Now: A Living Archive features;
· 37 essays or over 35,000 words of original writing, interviews and research about the festival from cultural commentators and film writers such as David Marr, Dr Gregory Dolgopolov, Garry Maddox, Eddie Cockrell and Sandy George as well as former SFF directors David Stratton, Paul Byrnes, Gayle Lake, Lynden Barber, Clare Stewart and the festival’s first director David Donaldson

· Over 10,000 words of memories and stories from festival goers

· Searchable list of all 8580 films that have ever screened at the festival

· Over 1000 archived photos

· Over 450 pages of material (channeled through 86 key pages)

· Over 50 archived videos including award-winning short films, news clips and trailers

· All 59 complete program guides and previous retrospective publications (25 years and 40 years), adding up to over 3000 more pages of material

· Is free and available to stream live online

· Is readable on all tablets and computers

· Features a range of downloadable material such as essays, programs and catalogues

· Hosts a range of multimedia including film footage, audio, and over 1000 archival images

· Can be easily shared via over 300 social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger and Tumblr

· Has an ISBN number, allowing it to be catalogued and accessed through library collections

· Is a living, breathing record designed to grow as Sydney Film Festival does

· Is open to audience contribution through the ‘Join the Discussion’ page


**Update as at May 21, 2013**

The 60th Sydney Film Festival program was recently launched by NSW Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing and Minister for the Arts, The Hon. George Souris. “The New South Wales Government, through Screen NSW and Destination NSW, is proud to support Sydney Film Festival, a much-loved part of the city’s arts and events calendar. Sydney Film Festival continues to provide filmmakers a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work, as well as boosting the State’s economy,” Minister Souris said.

SFF Festival Director Nashen Moodley said, “Opening with the World Premiere of a landmark Australian film, Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road, is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate just how far both the festival and the Australian film industry have come since 1954. Confident, mature, word-class and compelling – these are words that describe both this wonderful film and this extraordinary festival. Our 2013 program has more screenings of more films from more countries in more venues than even our record-breaking 2012 festival. We cover all tastes in film, with the peak best represented by our Official Competition films, made by some exciting new talents as well as masters of the form. Beyond the competition, feature and documentary programs, the 60th Sydney Film Festival features a focus on Austrian cinema, the best of British Noir, a good splattering of horror and some downright weird works that are bound to become future cult classics.”

This year SFF is proud to announce the 2013 festival is expanding its program, audience reach and accessibility to Sydneysiders. 38,000 additional seats will go on sale for festivalgoers to experience the best films from across Australia and around the world. Sydney’s North Shore residents can now more easily share the excitement with the addition of 23 screenings at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne.

The program features 190 titles (19 world premieres, 5 international premieres, and 122 Australian premieres) from 55 countries at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, the new screening location at the Hayden Orpheum Cremorne and Art Gallery of NSW. The Apple Store Sydney hosts a selection of free public talks; Grasshopper continues as the official festival lounge, open late for drinks and dinner; and SFFTV@Martin Place returns with a free giant outdoor screen showing a selection of SFF highlights plus fascinating shorts from Film Australia collection at the National Film and Sound Archive.

A few minutes’ walk from the Festival’s major venues, the Sydney Film Festival Hub at Lower Town Hall will return for a second year, celebrating the theme of Cinema, Reconstructed. Now open until midnight, the Hub offers an expanded line-up of FREE exhibitions, inspiring talks and panels, parties, performances, DJs and screenings throughout the Festival. It is the only place to buy $10 discount tickets for selected screenings, or take part in the new Film Club, daily from 5pm to 6pm, to share your festival experiences.

For the first time ever SFF screens films from Angola (Death Metal Angola, screening in our Sounds on Screen program); Bangladesh (Television, directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and awarded a Muhr AsiaAfrica special mention at the 2012 Dubai International Film Festival); North Korea (Comrade Kim Goes Flying); Malawi (William and the Windmill) winner of the Grand Jury Award for Documentary at SXSW; and Saudi Arabia (Wadjda directed by Saudi Arabia’s first-ever female filmmaker).

Among the 19 World Premieres at this year’s festival are two major Australian feature productions. Opening Night’s Mystery Road is an Outback-set murder mystery written, directed and edited by Ivan Sven (Beneath Clouds, Toomelah) and starring Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Ryan Kwanten, Damian Walshe-Howling, Tasma Walton, Zoe Carides and Samara Weaving. Then we welcome the psychological drama Nerve, a Sydney-based production directed by Sebastien Guy, starring a stellar cast of well-known and upcoming Australian actors including Gary Sweet, Christian Clark, Georgina Haig, Craig Hall, Andrea Demetriades, Denise Roberts and Cameron Daddo.

Eight new documentaries and one important restoration will also make their World Premieres at the festival including:
· The World Premiere of William Yang: My Generation, screening in partnership with ABC TV Arts and Vivid Ideas. Yang’s trademark candid narration leads us through the wildly creative and decadent era of Sydney in the ’70s and ’80s, capturing personalities such as Brett Whiteley, Patrick White, Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee.

· In collaboration with Vivid LIVE, SFF will screen The Sunnyboy, which follows Australian musician Jeremy Oxley’s 30-year struggle with schizophrenia as he faces up to returning to the stage with his band The Sunnyboys. The screening concludes with the band playing a live gig in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall.

· Award-winning Australian photographer Murray Frederick’s (Salt) journey to capture some of the most elusive and beautiful sights of Greenland’s icecaps will captivate you in Nothing on Earth.

· Renowned filmmaker and artist George Gittoes is at the centre of Love City Jalalabad, which charts his journey against all odds to create an artists’ collective in western Afghanistan, and to produce films there for the local community with an international cast and crew.

· Big Name No Blanket examines the legacy of Indigenous Australian music legend George Rrurrambu Burarrawanga – the frontman of the groundbreaking Warumpi Band.

· The Unlikely Pilgrims, directed by Kristen Mallyon and John Cherry, follows a group of recovering addicts and a drug counsellor from a New South Wales rehab centre along their journey on the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrims’ trail through northern Spain.

· The Crossing, directed by Julian Harvey, follows two young Australians, Clark Carter and Chris Bray, as they attempt the difficult crossing of a remote island in the Arctic.

· Buckskin is directed by Indigenous filmmaker Dylan McDonald. It follows Jack Buckskin’s mission to renew a once-extinct language and inspire a new generation to connect with the land and culture of his ancestors.

The digital restoration of the groundbreaking 1981 film Wrong Side of the Road, directed by Ned Lander, is based on the real lives of seminal Australian bands Us Mob and No Fixed Address, and is presented in partnership with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. It returns an important story to our cultural history – looking and sounding even better than it did when it was released 30 years ago.

Festival Highlights:

On the Public Holiday Monday, June 10, families and children will enjoy Disney•Pixar’s Monsters University, welcoming Mike and Sulley back to the big screen to find out how the monster pals from the Oscar®-winning Monsters, Inc. met and became friends.

SFF is delighted to present the Australian Premiere of Before Midnight, the latest instalment of director Richard Linklater’s (Dazed and Confused, School of Rock) popular, romantic films that began with Before Sunrise (1995) and then Before Sunset (2004), all starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. This is the first time all three films will be screened together in Australia.

This year’s national highlight is entitled Focus on Austria, featuring the award-winning Paradise trilogy by acclaimed director Ulrich Seidl, who achieved the rare feat of playing in competition at the three major festivals in 2012/2013 – Cannes, Venice and Berlin. The Box Set brings the latest and best cinematic television productions from around the world. The HBO Europe historical-drama TV series Burning Bush, based on real events and directed by world-renowned Polish filmmaker, Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, A Lonely Woman, Angry Harvest, The Wire) is a highlight. Also presented in this section is the gripping Japanese drama series Penance directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Bright Future, Tokyo Sonata).

Continuing SFF’s commitment to presenting the best work by Indigenous filmmakers, SFF has partnered with Screen Australia’s Indigenous department to present Screen: Black, showcasing the latest from across Australia: Mystery Road (opening night), Buckskin (Foxtel), Big Name No Blanket (Foxtel) and The Chuck In (Short Films).

SFF will be screening nine films direct from the 2013 Cannes Official Selection, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, including: Only God Forgives, a Bangkok-set crime thriller and the latest from director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, 2009 Sydney Film Prize winner Bronson), starring Ryan Gosling and Kristen Scott-Thomas; the wickedly funny and strange Dutch film Borgman, directed by Alex Van Warmerdam; Grigris from the great African filmmaker (and SFF 2012 jury member) Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (A Screaming Man); the French drama The Past, from acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (whose A Separation won the 2011 Sydney Film Prize and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012); the gripping Indian thriller Monsoon Shootout, directed by Amit Kumar; and one of the scariest films of the year We Are What We Are directed by acclaimed genre filmmaker Jim Mickle (Mulberry Street; Stake Land, SFF 2011). The Scottish drama For Those in Peril, directed by Paul Wright, will screen at Critics’ Week and then in SFF’s Official Competition. Two short films in the Cannes Competition will also screen at SFF: Whale Valley, directed by Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson; and the Australian-Indian co-production Tau Seru, directed by Rodd Rathjen.

Opening Night
The star-studded Opening Night Gala will be made even more special by the World Premiere of the Australian film Mystery Road. Directed by AFI award-winning director Ivan Sen (Beneath Clouds, Toomelah) this gripping murder mystery stars Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Ryan Kwanten, Damian Walshe-Howling, Tasma Walton, Zoe Carides, and Samara Weaving. The festival opens at the State Theatre on Wednesday June 5 at 7:30pm, followed by an afterparty at Bungalow 8 in Darling Harbour. Opening Night is presented by Audi.

Closing Night:
The Australian Premiere of the documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom, directed by award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville and featuring Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Sting, Claudia Lennear and Tata Vega, screens at the State Theatre on Sunday June 16 at 8.00pm. Closing Night also includes the announcements of all the SFF awards for 2013, including the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize.

Sydney Film Festival occurs from June 5-16 2013. All information about the films and ticketing can be viewed here


**Update as at June 1, 2013**

Sydney Film Festival has announced two new films in the 2013 program, the Australian premiere of the feature film The Bling Ring, directed by Sofia Coppola; and the World Premiere of the Australian short film Aboriginal Heart, directed by Michelle Blanchard. The two films will screen together on Thursday June 13 at 9:15pm at Event Cinemas George Street, and again on Saturday June 15 at 8.00pm at Dendy Opera Quays.

Straight from Cannes, SFF will screen the Australian premiere of The Bling Ring. Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation) is renowned as a chronicler of the dark side of life among the privileged and famous. She follows up her Golden Lion-winning Somewhere with another atmospheric story of Hollywood alienation - this time with a criminal twist. The film is based on the true story (documented by Vanity Fair) of a gang of fame-obsessed juvenile thieves who tracked celebrity targets via social media and stole millions in luxury goods from their homes. Emma Watson (Harry Potter) leads a terrific ensemble; in a deliciously ‘meta’ casting coup, real-life ‘Bling Ring’ victim Paris Hilton cameos as herself. As ever, Coppola portrays her own milieu with cool detachment and transcendent beauty.

Aboriginal Heart is set in remote NSW. A young city doctor gets bamboozled by the gentle cunning and stunning art of a group of local Aboriginal women. The cast features Adam Demos, Valerie Bugmy and Erica Dixon. Michelle Blanchard is an Indigenous filmm aker and currently Deputy Director of the Koori Centre at the University of Sydney. She is a descendant of the Nugi/Nunnuccal clans, North Stradbroke Island (Minjeeribah), Queensland.

Sydney Film Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary this June, bringing a packed program of screenings and special events to even more venues across Sydney. For tickets and full up-to-date program information please visit here

What: Sydney Film Festival
When: June 5-16, 2013
Tickets & Info: 1300 733 733


**Update as at June 16, 2013**

The winner of Sydney Film Festival’s prestigious Sydney Film Prize, now in its sixth year, was revealed in Sydney. Out of a selection of 12 films in SFF’s Official Competition, the Sydney Film Prize was awarded to Only God Forgives, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. The $60,000 prize, Australia’s richest cash award for film, is awarded in recognition of courageous, audacious and cutting-edge film. This is the second time Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has won the Sydney Prize, previously winning it in 2009 with the British prison thriller Bronson.

Starring Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas and Vithaya Pansringarm, Only God Forgives is a brutal and stylish story of betrayal, rage and redemption set in the Thai underworld.

In attendance at the harbour-side announcement were Festival Director Nashen Moodley; Official Competition Jury President Hugo Weaving; Official Competition filmmakers Christine Cynn, Kim Mordaunt, Sylvia Wilczynski, Pauline Phoumindr, Sittiphon Disamoe, Lungnam Kaosinam, Alice Keohavong and Boonsri Yindi; and jury members Paolo Bertolin, Anand Gandhi, Pia Marais and Kath Shelper.

“After 10 days of captivating and diverse film viewing and passionate conversations, the jury arrived at a majority decision. In the true spirit of the Competition criteria, we award a visually mesmerizing and disturbing film, which polarised our opinions. The winner of the Sydney Film Prize is Only God Forgives,” said the Official Competition jury, headed by Hugo Weaving.

“I am very honoured and extremely excited to have received this honourable award from a country that in my opinion has one of the great film histories of the world,” said Nicolas Winding Refn.

Nicolas Winding Refn was born in Denmark in 1970. His edgy, stylish and frequently violent films have garnered critical acclaim, a passionate worldwide following and increasing mainstream success. At the age of 24 he wrote and directed his debut feature Pusher (1996, SFF 2006), which became a cult phenomenon. Bleeder (1999), Pusher II and Pusher Trilogy (2005) and Valhalla Rising (2009) continued this success, premiering at major festivals and finding steadily larger audiences. In 2009 his film Bronson, a prison thriller starring Tom Hardy, won the second Sydney Film Prize. His 2011 action thriller Drive, starring Ryan Gosling, was a huge international hit.

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