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Film Studies student covers the Sydney Film Festival


15 June 2018

Image: Sydney Film Festival
Image: Sydney Film Festival


Film Studies Honours student, Beth Cannan, covers the Sydney Film Festival (held 6 - 17 June), giving a run down on what's screening.


The Sydney Film Festival is one of the world's oldest film festivals, celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2018. This year's program spans a formidable 326 films, along with a highly anticipated selection of late additions direct from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Screenings are held all over Sydney, beginning at the heritage listed State Theatre and the stunning art deco cinemas of the Cremorne Orpheum and the Randwick Ritz. The festival also programs films throughout the year at Casula Powerhouse, and their travelling film festival visits regional NSW, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.


The festival spans an impressive collection of feature films, documentaries, animations, and special features such as Freak Me Out (a specially curated selection of horror films supported by Sydney University), and the Virtual Reality program at the Festival Hub in Town Hall. Each year brings a different country of focus (Italy) and David Stratton's Essential Retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Finnish director Aki Kaurasmäki). This year the festival has also announced a new collaboration: Flux: Art + Film, exploring films and video works made by artists.


Twelve of the films chosen for the festival are nominated for the Official Competition for the Sydney Film Prize. These are considered to be the year's most "audacious, cutting-edge and courageous" films, and are often "innovative, provocative or controversial." The Competition showcases the rare and wonderful films that advance the cinema as an art form. This year's festival is embraces and promotes inclusivity. Half of the twelve Official Competition films are directed by women, and the program Europe! Voices of Women in Film (now in its second year) showcases feature films made by women from the European continent. There are programs exploring First Nations, human rights, the LGBTQ+ community, and screen practitioners with a disability through the Screenability program.


There are many films from first time filmmakers to cinema greats like Spike Lee, Terry Gilliam, and Jean-Luc Godard. There are the stunning durational films of Chinese filmmaker Hu Bo (An Elephant Sitting Still 2018), Filipino director Lav Diaz (Season of the Devil 2018), and the restoration of Taiwanese director Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day (1991). Two of the films at this festival have been banned in their home countries: Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (3 Faces 2018) spent 6 years under house arrest and is still the subject of a 20-year filmmaking ban, while the mesmerizing lesbian love story Rafiki (2018) from Wanuri Kahiu was banned in its own country only a week after being the first Kenyan film ever to screen at Cannes.


Our coverage of the 2018 Sydney Film Festival will include an overview of the Official Competition, International Documentaries, and the Aki Kaurasmäki retrospective, along with interviews with the festival director Nashen Moodley and visiting filmmakers.


For more information about our partnership with the Festival, visit the USYD Sydney Film Festival website.