From Wednesday 8 June to Sunday 19 June 2022, the 69th Sydney Film Festival will offer Sydneysiders another exciting season of cinema amidst a menagerie of premieres, red carpets, in-depth discussions, special programs, and the welcome return of interstate and international filmmakers.
In anticipation of the festival’s return, twenty-two diverse titles have just been announced as a taster, setting the stage for the full program reveal in May.
“This year’s festival will include over 200 films. Possibly more,” reveals Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “I think perhaps we’ll get to around 250, but I’ll be able to confirm that on the 11th of May.”
An impressive number, and no small feat considering the quick turnaround from last year’s festival; a tricky juggling act that certainly exploits the prestige Sydney Film Festival holds and which reflects, as Moodley explains, the challenges and displacement experienced by many international festivals as the circuit slowly begins to correct itself.
“It’s certainly been different circumstances. To have a festival in November when we hadn’t had an in-cinema festival the previous year, we were able to choose films from across two years. And because of the timing of November, we were able to secure films like Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers; films from Venice and Toronto that because of the timing, we’d never usually be able to have in Sydney Film Festival.
“But since November, of course, there’s been Rotterdam, which happened online, but still presented a range of films, Sundance, Berlin, Göteborg. There have been a number of festivals that have taken place, many reduced in scale due to the pandemic. But I think we’re at close to 80% of the overall program secured, and there are many award-winners cycling from recent festivals.
“But it’s only been a short time since, let’s say from Berlin for example, to our Teaser Announcement, so it’s been a little tough to secure everything in time to include them, but I’m very happy with what has been announced, and then what will come into the full program announcement on the 11th of May. There’ll be a bunch of award-winners and many, many big films as well.”
Some of the standout entries just announced include a range of features and documentaries, including a strong Australian presence which includes the edgy dance documentary Keep Stepping from Luke Cornish (Amazon Prime’s Unheard), SXSW hit horror Sissy from Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, and the music themed coming of age drama 6 Festivals, from Macario De Souza.
International titles include Peter Strickland’s dark comedy Flux Gourmet which pairs Asa Butterfield (Sex Education) and Gwendolyn Christie (Game of Thrones), Andrea Riseborough/Demi Moore starring genderqueer musical Please Baby Please, San Sebastian Golden Shell winner Blue Moon from Romanian writer-director Alina Grigore, and Sundance highlights Calendar Girls, a joyous documentary about a 60+ female dance troupe and Sirens, a loud and proud introduction to the Middle East’s first all-female, queer death metal band.
“I tend not to choose favourites,” jokes Moodley with a certain diplomatic pragmatism. “But I’d say that what’s exciting about this line-up, which is just a small proportion of the overall program, is that we have so much new talent.
“There are some very talented new filmmakers. We have first films from Australia, and from around the world appearing in this line-up. I’m thinking of films from Australia, like Keep Stepping, Six Festivals, The Planes, and Sissy, which just played at South by Southwest. It’s great for us to be able to introduce to the audience for the first time the next generation of great Australian filmmakers.
“And then we also have great films like The Forgiven, with Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain and Bootlegger which stars Devery Jacobs (Reservation Dogs). The program of the Sydney Film Festival is always very diverse and ranges from films that are, let’s say, close to mainstream, to very, very experimental works. And that balance will be maintained this year. And of course, it’s great to have wonderful, very well-known actors in great films. That’s fantastic to have.”
With 2022 finally seeing the pandemic fading in the rear-view mirror, the 69th edition of the festival is shaping up as a welcome return to normal, with November 2021 serving as a test run for both audiences and venues alike, paving the way for 2022 to deliver a full, and complete festival reminiscent of the pre pandemic chaos.
“I think the biggest difference since the festival in November is that we hope to have international filmmakers back at the festival,” explains a cautiously optimistic Moodley. “We hope to have parties. We hope to have the networking that’s very much part of the festival, the interactions between the audience and filmmakers, between filmmakers from around the world and Australian filmmakers. I think that will be the big change compared to what’s happened over the last couple of years.”
For a full break down on the Sneak Peak Announcements for the 69th Sydney Film Festival, visit www.sff.org.au/info/first-films/ now.