Sydney Film Festival Announces First 25 Films

April 3, 2019
Australian films, documentaries and the best of new world cinema.

“These first 25 films are a mere taster of the incredible program in store, from the devastating human impact on the world around us, to captivating stories from unique communities, and spotlights on the most accomplished artists of our generation,” said Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley in a statement.

Documentaries include Australian films The Final Quarter, Ian Darling’s chronicle of the racism-filled final years of AFL footballer Adam Goodes, and She Who Must Be Loved, about the extraordinary life of Freda Glynn, co-founder of CAAMA, and mother of filmmakers Erica Glynn and Warwick Thornton. The film premiered very emotionally last year at the Adelaide Film Festival, with the Freda and most of the family in the audience.

International documentaries include Amazing Grace, Sydney Pollack’s Aretha Franklin concert film, which could not be screened until Franklin passed. There’s also The Kleptocrats, an exposé on Malaysia’s 1MDB wealth fund scandal; environmental doco Anthropocene: The Human Epoch; A Dog Called Money, about PJ Harvey’s recording of her 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project; Yuli, about Cuba’s first black principal dancer in the Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta; Midnight Family, about a private ambulance operating family in Mexico City; Up the Mountain, about an artist and his community in a Chinese mountain village; and intriguingly, School of Seduction – Three Stories from Russia, about Russia’s workshops where you can learn ‘skills for seducing wealthy men’. Sign us up.

Apart from the earlier announcement about David Stratton’s retrospective of Australian female filmmakers, local films are thin on the ground in this first announcement, apart from the Sundance-selected Irish co-production Animals, starring Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger from Adelaide filmmaker Sophie Hyde.

International features include Claire Denis’ High Life starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche; Michael Winterbottom’s noir starring Dev Patel, The Wedding Guest; Papi Chulo starring Matt Bomer as a gay TV weatherman who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a straight Latino migrant worker; and In Fabric with Gwendoline Christie and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, the tale of a demonic red dress.

Additionally, there are the Italian crime film Piranhas, the Oscar nominated German biopic Never Look Away, Venice winning Thai film Manta Ray, about a local fisherman and a refugee; the sexual and gender charged The Third Wife by American Vietnamese filmmaker Ash Mayfair, and widely acclaimed Spanish film Journey to a Mother’s Room, about a tight mother-daughter bond being tested when the daughter moves to another city.

Other announced titles include Cuban deadpan sci-fi The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia; the Japanese Jesus; the animated Minuscule 2: Mandibles from Far Away; and a high school program featuring a restoration of Lawrence Johnston’s documentary Eternity and The Miracle of the Little Prince, which explores language through stories of translators of the classic book, The Little Prince.

The full program will be announced on May 8, 2019. For bookings and more information, head to

The 2019 Sydney Film Festival is on between June 5 and June 16

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