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Entries in Sydney Film Festival (4)

Wednesday
Jun072017

WHAT WOULD NASHEN WATCH? DIRECTOR PICKS HIS BEST OF THE FEST

Having overseen the selection of the 2017 Sydney Film Festival line-up from 100s of hopefuls, the question is there to be asked…what would Nashen watch, again? With his bums-to-seats ratio growing annually and a new raft of films and venues in the mix, there’s an argument to be made that Nashen Moodley is the most successful festival director in Sydney Film Festival history. 

On May 17, a gathering of industry insiders joined journos and sponsors at the Abode Bar in Sydney’s Park Royal Hotel to get the scoop on the best of the fest from the man himself… 

WE DON’T NEED A MAP: Dir Warwick Thornton
Nashen says: “A couple of years ago, Warwick made a very controversial statement that the Southern Cross as a symbol had become the new swastika. He got into a lot of trouble for that but, instead of shying away from it, Warwick decided to make a film about it. It’s a clever documentary that, like the man himself, is funny and provocative.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; the Opening Night film is having its world premiere at Sydney.

FELICITE: Dir. Alain Gomis
Nashen says: “So little is known about African cinema outside of Africa, which is a very sad fact. Set in the Congolese city of Kanchasa, this film is filled with music and magic as well as tragedy. It’s a remarkable film because it subverts the ideals of African cinema in many ways, presenting hardship but within a love story, a resilience against hardship.”
Critics say: “A formally complex work, too long perhaps and occasionally opaque in its meaning, but a daring ride to those wanting to glimpse the best of African cinema.” – The Film Stage

LITTLE HOURS: Dir: Jeff Baena
Nashen says: “This one will cause a little trouble, I think, but it’s very funny. It’s set in a nunnery, where some nuns are not as committed to their as they should be when a hunky deaf mute Dave Franco enters their world. The trailer has made some people angry, but it’s all loosely based on The Decameron, so they’ve had 700 years to be angry about it.”
Critics say: “as it delivers plenty of laughs for its duration it’s difficult to fault The Little Hours for *only* being a funny film.” – Film School Rejects

BLUE: Dir. Karina Holden
Nashen says: “This film paints a horrifying picture about what is going on in our oceans at the moment. Fortunately, we are introduced the film to a number of heroes who are challenging what has been accepted for too long and are changing how are oceans are being treated.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; film is having its World Premiere at Sydney.

THE BEGUILED: Dir. Sofia Coppola.
Nashen says: “There’s sexual tension, heresy, the type of ‘southern hospitality’ that you’ve not seen before. Nicole Kidman is remarkable in this role, that sees her balance between extreme good and quite extreme evil.”
Critics say: “Although the picture is noticeably lacking in taut suspense of the conventional variety, it flies in close to a subtler, hotter flame: The sensuality of deceit.” – TIME

PATTI CAKE$. Dir:
Nashen says: "I’ve been to many Sundance festivals and I can’t recall any films that got a reaction like Patti Cake$. It is very inspirational, with a wonderful performance in the lead by Australian actress Danielle McDonald. It was the focus of a big bidding war and will be one of the best session at our festival.”
Critics say: “Every few years, an indie character comes along who so perfectly captures what it’s like to be mocked and marginalized, even as she refuses to let the bullies and abusers have the last word. That’s the kind of character Patti Cake$ is, and that’s why she stands to become one of the year’s most endearing discoveries” – Variety

THE UNTAMED: Dir. Amat Escalante.
Nashen says: “Escalante has made quite a few very controversial, very extreme films, most notably Heli. He changes tack once again with The Untamed, which is about…um, how to say this…I guess…a sex monster from another planet, capable of providing humans with the greatest pleasure they’ve ever experienced. It is science-fiction, erotica and social realism. It is not one for everyone, I admit.”
Critics say: “Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft had written The Joy of Sex, or better still a porn parody of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker.” – CineVue

RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD: Dir.Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana.
Nashen says: “It is about how native Americans and their music has impacted all kinds of music across many decades. It is a fantastic, surprisning film with so much great music.”
Critics say: “Along with showcasing the evolution of rock music, blues, jazz, folk, pop and even hip hop, Rumble also provides great insight into the hardships that Native Americans endured over the years.” – In The Seats.

ALI’S WEDDING: Dir.
Nashen says: “Australia’s first Muslim rom-com. It stars Osamah Sami, the very person upon whom the incredible true story is based. He told his story to a film producer friend, who said ‘We have to make this into a film’.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; the film is having one of its first showings at Sydney.

OKJA: Dir. Bong Joon-ho
Nashen says: “I have admired this director for a long time; he’s one of the best filmmakers working today. In his homeland of Korea, his films are considered mainstream, where his genre films are blockbusters, earning upwards of 12 million admissions. We’ve shown almost all his films at Sydney; the last one was Snowpiercer.”
Critics say: A gleeful satire about the rapacious US food industry... wrapped neatly around a moving, almost Disney-esque story of a girl and her pet.” – The Daily Mail (UK)

Wednesday
May102017

PREVIEW: 64th SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL

A picturesque seaside backdrop is just one of the key assets that the 2017 Sydney Film Festival will share with the 70th edition of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Ten films will jet in directly from their French screenings to bolster the 64th Harbour City cinematic celebration, which launches June 7 with 2009 Camera d’Or winner Warwick Thornton’s documentary, We Don’t Need a Map.

Four films having their Australian premieres at Sydney are in contention for the coveted Palme d’Or. They are Sofia Coppola’s highly anticipated southern gothic thriller, The Beguiled; Fatih Akin’s revenge-themed terrorist drama, In The Fade, starring Diane Kruger; the latest from Austrian master Michael Haneke, Happy End, with international superstar Isabelle Huppert; and, from South Korean genre maestro Bong Joon-ho, the drama Okja (pictured, above), boasting international stars Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and An Seo-hyun. The director will be in attendance to introduce the film, which has been selected to close the festival on June 18.

Four more films heading to Oz from The Croisette are directorial debuts. Wind River is a rural thriller starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen and directed by Taylor Sheridan, the acclaimed screenwriter of 2016 Oscar nominee Hell or High Water; the New Jersey set black comedy Patti Cake$, starring Australian Danielle McDonald, from first-time helmer Geremy Jasper; SNL star Kyle Mooney plays the bear-suited outsider in Dave McCary’s offbeat character comedy, Brigsby Bear; and 80 year-old acting great Vanessa Redgrave will attend in support of her directing debut, the refugee crisis doco Sea Sorrow.

The other Cannes titles are Napalm, a personal glimpse inside North Korean society from legendary documentarian, 91 year-old Claude Lanzmann (Shoah, 1985; The Last of The Unjust, 2013); and an immaculate new print of Belle de Jour, Luis Bunuel’s 1967 masterpiece starring Catherine Deneuve which is headlining the Cannes Classic restoration program.

Twelve films will vie for the Official Competition top spot, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017. In addition to The Beguiled, We Don’t Need a Map and Happy End, the competition line-up includes the Alain Gomis’ Felicitie, Silver Bear Grand Jury winner at the Berlinale; Raoul Peck’s searing documentary I Am Not Your Negro, narrated by Samuel Jackson (read the Screen-Space review here); the Georgian-set empowerment tale Happy Family, from filmmakers Nana & Simon; Berlinale Golden Bear winner On Body and Soul, from Hungarian auteur Ildiko Enyedi; Aki Kaurismaki’s latest, the warm and insightful friendship story The Other Side of Hope; Kirsten Tan’s one-man-and-his-elephant heartwarmer Pop Aye, a Sundance screenwriting honouree; Australian theatre heavyweight Benedict Andrews controversial battle-of-the sexes thriller Una, with Ben Mendelsohn and Rooney Mara; the fearlessly challenging erotic sci-fi drama The Untamed, from Mexican director Amat Escalante; the debut feature by Afghani filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat, Wolf and Sheep, a work that earned her the 2016 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight prize.

Sydney programmers have snared 18 World Premiere feature film screenings for the 2017 line-up. These include two works from director Kriv Stenders – Australia Day, his incendiary drama that probes the racial tensions and multicultural stereotypes that have come to define our society; and, the rock band documentary The Go-Betweens: Right Here. Other global firsts include actor David Wenham’s directorial debut, Ellipsis; Rhiannon Bannenberg’s teenage beachside drama, Rip Tide; sci-fi thriller Otherlife from Ben C Lucas; renowned documentary filmmaker Tom Zubrycki’s latest, the Sudanese refugee story Hope Road; and Amanda Sthers’ French production Madame, starring Toni Collette and Harvey Keitel.

Across a vast programme that boasts 288 films (long- and short-form) from 59 countries, visions that arrive with considerable critical and commercial cache include David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West, Cedric Klapisch’s Back to Burgundy, Stanley Tucci’s Final Portrait, Christian Mungiu’s Graduation, Eduardo Roy Jnr’s Ordinary People, Eleanor Coppola’s Paris Can Wait (pictured, right), Doug Liman’s The Wall and Lav Diaz’s The Woman Who Left. The feature documentary selection includes such lauded works as Pascal Lamche’s Winnie, Amanda Lipitz’s Step, Maite Alberdi’s The Grown-Ups, David Borenstein’s Dream Empire and Alexandre O Philippe’s 78/52 (read the Screen-Space review here).

The 2017 sidebar strands are particularly rich, with programming that reflects the festival’s ongoing commitment to diversity, both social and artistic:

  • Europe! Voices of Women in Film: A collaboration with trade paper Screen International and the European Film Promotion initiative, ten new films from the continent’s female director will play SFF 2017. They include works from Ireland (Neasa Ni Chianain’s School Life), Switzerland (Petra Volpe’s The Divine Order), Portugal (Claudia Varejao’s Ama-San) and Macedonia (Teona Strugar Mitevska’s When The Day Had No Name);
  • Feminism & Film: Sydney Women Filmmakers 1970s and ‘80s: Nine films (five features, four shorts) will recall the strong female voice of Australian feminist cinema from decades past. The works include We Aim to Please (1976), Behind Closed Doors (1980) and This Woman is Not a Car (1982);
  • Sounds on Screen: Sold-out sessions are assured in this hugely populat music-themed strand, which this year boasts Nick Broomfield’s revelatory Whitney Houston doco, I Can Be Me (pictured, right) and Michael Winterbottom’s On The Road, which provides unprecedented access to Wolf Alice’s tour of the U.K.
  • Smash It Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Punk Rock 1977-2017: Six features acknowledging the anti-establishment voice include John Waters’ Desperate Living, Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of western Civilization and the Julien Temple/Sex Pistols classics, The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle and The Filth and The Fury;
  • Restorations: In addition to Belle de Jour, the Restorations line-up celebrates the career of late Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami, with a restored print of his 1997 film A Taste of Cherry and a screening of the 2016 documentary, 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami. Also, three reinvigorated Australian classics will screen – Pat Fiske’s Rocking the Foundations (1985), John Duigans’ The Year My Voice Broke (1987) and Samantha Lang’s The Well (1997);
  • Focus on Canada: In conjunction with the Canadian Government and as part of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, seven Canadian films will screen, including those of visiting directors Ann Marie Fleming (Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming); Simon Lavoie (Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves), Kirsten Carthew (The Sun at Midnight; pictured, right) and producer Christina Fon (Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World);
  • First Nations: A celebration of indigenous film culture, both local and international, the 13-strong line-up boasts works from New Zealand (Florian Habicht’s Brown Lips); Canada (Alethea Arnaquq-Barils’ Angry Inuk; Zacharias Kunuk’s Maliglutit); and, ten films from Australia, including a special event screening of two Season 2 episodes of Wayne Blair’s small-screen hit, Cleverman;
  • Freak Me Out: The always popular genre selection, curated by Richard Kuipers, that this year includes Chris Peckovers’ Better Watch Out (read the Screen-Space review here, under it’s original title Safe Neighbourhood); Joe Lynch’s Mayhem, with Australian actress Samara Weaving; and Portuguese shocker The Forest of Lost Souls, from Jose Pedro Lopes;
  • Essential Kurosawa: Legendary critic and past SFF Director David Stratton presents ten timeless works from the Japanese master, including Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Red Beard, Kagemusha and Ran;
  • Family Films: All ages entertainment features the Oscar nominated My Life as a Zucchini from director Claude Barras and Dash Shaw’s animated feature My Entire High School Sinking into The Sea, voiced by Jason Schwartzman.

A new platform in 2017 is the Screenability initiative. Launched in conjunction with Screen NSW and the Department of Family and Community Services, it provides an outlet for international filmmakers with disabilities to have their work seen by the broad festival audience. Programmed by Sofya Gollan, the strand includes New Zealander Alyx Duncan’s Drumming is Like Thunder, Irish auteur Simon Fitzmaurice’s My Name is Emily, Swiss filmmaker Manuel von Sturler’s Lust for Sight and local talents Stevie Cruz-Martin (Pulse) and Johanna Garvin (Milky Pop Kid).

The 64th Sydney Film Festival will be held June 7-18 at nine venues across Sydney. For full ticketing and session details, visit the official website.

Saturday
Jun182016

11 UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS (10 GREAT; 1 TERRIBLE) FROM THE SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL

SCREEN-SPACE got the jump on some of the Sydney Film Festival’s big drawcards at Cannes, so no Julietta, Aquarius or Personal Shopper amongst this lot, however deserving. The vastness of the 2016 programme nonetheless ensures there were many special cinematic moments worth celebrating. Oh, and one that had us cringing. With the Festival winding down to Sunday's Closing Night screening of Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, we line up (in no order) the frames of film that lingered longest in the memory (SPOILER WARNING)…

‘The Not-So-Nice Guys’ in WAR ON EVERYONE
Writer-director John Michael McDonagh aced it with The Guard and Calvary, thoroughly earning this shot at the all-American ‘buddy cop’ genre pic. He winningly transplants his brand of rhythmic Brit banter and whip-smart in-jokes to the dusty New Mexican setting; Michael Pena and an unhinged Alexander Skarsgård (pictured, above) are the riotous, R-rated double act that we all hoped Crowe and Gosling were going to be in that other buddy pic. So many memorable moments; we’ll go with the African-American snitch that decides that Iceland, the whitest country on Earth, is a good place to hide.

‘Janis’ School Reunion’ in JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUES
Janis Joplin had fled her smalltown life, the victim of callous bullying by her school peers. When she guests on the Dick Cavett show, she flippantly tells an enormous television audience she is heading home for her high school reunion. A media frenzy, 70’s style, ensues, capturing both her defiance and discomfort with vivid acuity. Amy Berg’s best film ever is full of extraordinary moments culled from the songstress’ life, none more insightful than her return to the high school hellhole that drove her away.

‘Weiner Does it Again’ in WEINER
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s fly-on-the-wall account of the New York politician’s professional self-immolation moves at cracking pace from the first frame, capturing the momentum of a career public servant fast-tracking himself to the upper echelons of New York society. Then, with one dick-pic scandal behind him, another breaks and the house-of-cards resurrection he and his team had accomplished comes crashing down. It is train-wreck documentary gold, and plays out as such in this teeth-gnawingly entertaining film.

 

That Song’ in TONI ERDMANN
Maren Ade’s 162-minute black comedy masterpiece (that we missed in Cannes, despite it being the festival’s best reviewed film) skates by on an emotional razor’s edge of anxiety and embarrassment. How to release crucial audience pressure as the narrative veers towards excruciating humiliation? Have your incognito anti-hero, ‘Toni Erdmann’ (the wonderful Peter Simonischek) accompany his put-upon daughter (a near-perfect Sandra Huller) in an impromptu rendition of a classic 80’s power ballad. The sequence is as hilarious and empowering as any on-screen moment this year.

That Line’ in GREETINGS FROM FUKUSHIMA
The great German auteur Doris Dorrie took her two leads – stunning countrywoman Rosalie Thomass and enigmatic Japanese actress Kaori Momoi – deep into the devastated Fukushima landscape for this moving story of grief, friendship and forgiveness. The impact of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown is beyond horrific, as was captured in the line, “The ghosts still can’t believe they’re dead.” The words, spoken nonchalantly by Momoi’s grieving Satomi when she learns of the spirits that materialise while she sleeps, echoed silently in the cavernous State Theatre; they convey both the terrifying suddenness and immense scale of one of the worst tragedies in human history.

‘Mermaid Vagina’ in THE LURE
Frankly, there are about 50 remarkable moments we could have selected from Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska’s insane vampire-mermaid-musical, a sort of Rocky Horror Show-meets-Showgirls-meets-Splash concoction that is unlike anything Australian audiences have seen….well, ever. When sultry siren Silver (Marta Mazurek) wants to seduce bass player Mietek (Jakub Giierszal), she reveals to him exactly where on her huge tail he needs to concentrate. Yeah, that’s right…

‘Ragin’ Mel’ in BLOOD FATHER
Young moviegoers view Mel Gibson as an old Hollywood ‘boogeyman’, his real life anger issues far more defining than the two decades he spent as one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Those of us who prefer to recall his edge-of-insanity onscreen moments in Mad Max, Lethal Weapon, Hamlet, Ransom, Braveheart and Payback were thrilled to see ‘Meltdown Mel’ back in full-force in Jean-François Richet’s dad-and-daughter road movie. As he unloads a verbal tirade on a double-crossing Michael Parks, Gibson taps into the true nature of madness and desperation; stare into the actor’s eyes at these moments, I dare you.

‘The Old Man at the Bedroom Door’ in UNDER THE SHADOW
Iran’s first foray in the horror genre is a claustrophobic haunted-apartment yarn that works ancient Djinn demonology into the modern life of a young Tehran family. With her medico husband is called into active duty, young mum Shideh (Narges Rashidi) must care for her increasingly anxious daughter, Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), who has formed an unhealthy, perhaps unholy alliance with a presence in their apartment. The extent of their troubles is revealed in one particularly bone-chilling moment, when the deceased old man from upstairs appears in their bedroom doorway at night. In a display of precise unity, the audience at the sold-out ‘Freak Me Out’ session lifted off their seats as one.

‘The Old Man at the Film Archives’ in A FLICKERING TRUTH
New Zealand documentarian Pietra Brettkelly embedded herself in Kabul to capture the film archival efforts of Ibrahim Arify and his team, who endeavour to save the remaining spools of Afghanistan film history. In addition to a powerful story of determination in the face of a regime’s destructive cultural redefinition, Brettkelly discovered Isaaq Yousif, the self-appointed keeper of the Archives who had lived in the building for 30 years. Ageing and frail, Yousif lead a shut-in’s life through the worst years of the Taliban’s rule, determined to preserve what he could of the region’s cinematic heritage. The old man’s narrative may be the greatest heroic arc of any at this year’s festival.

‘A Little Girl’s Tears’ in UNDER THE SUN
Russian director Vitaly Mansky gained unprecedented access into the life of a seemingly normal Pyongyang family. What is revealed is how meticulously staged all the ‘normal’ moments really were. At the centre of the film is 8 year-old Zin-mi, whose transformation from spirited, smiling sweetie into a confused, indoctrinated cog in the DPRK ideology is heart-breaking. Mansky’s devastating final frames capture a little girl consumed by the pressures of adhering to Kim Jong-un’s dictatorial rule. Zin-mi weeps despite herself; when an off-screen voice demands she finds happy thoughts to quell her tears, she can find none. Instead, she summons politicised rhetoric, like the good citizen into which she has been moulded.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Two incredible shorts that left indelible impressions – Axel Danielsen and Maximilien van Aertryck’s high-dive tummy-tightener, Ten Meter Tower; and, the nightmarish Id-on-the-rampage vision, Manoman, from Simon Cartwright.

And the worst moment of 63rd Sydney Film Festival…

‘Dead Deer Ukulele Eulogy’ from COCONUT HERO
The Sydney Film Festival programmers love the ‘Sundance Film,’ the feel-good, sentimental yarn wrapped in an indie aesthetic made popular at the Redford’s Utah love-in. At best, they look like Little Miss Sunshine (SFF, 2006), but in recent years they have found a just-ok middle ground (The Way Way Back, SFF 2013; Liberal Arts, SFF 2012). In 2016, the ‘Sundance Film’ parodied itself with Florian Cossen’s insufferable millennial navel-gazer Coconut Hero, in which outsider dullard Mike (Alex Ozerov) mumbles through a worthless existential non-crisis. A road trip with man-saviour caricature Miranda (Bea Santos) turns bad when they hit a deer; things get worse (for the deer and the audience) when the pair take out a ukulele and giggle their way through an improvised musical farewell – over the dying animal. Hipster disconnect from real-world emotion in favour of indulging one’s own unique (read: self-centred) perspective has never been so clearly articulated, though one doubts that was the filmmaker’s intention.

Thursday
May082014

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL: 'WOW MOMENTS' IN THE 2014 PROGRAM

The SOR crowd at the launch of the 2014 Sydney Film Festival (SFF) program were suitably impressed this years statistics – 183 titles from 47 countries, 15 world premieres and 122 Australian premieres amongst them. There was almost a sense of relief when the announcement came that high-profile titles such as David Michod’s The Rover, Dreamworks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and The Dardennes Brother’s Two Days One Night would screen, many direct from The Croisette. But what were the real gems, some hidden deep within the program, that suggests the 61st edition of SFF is every true cinephile’s dream…?

BIGSCREEN SOCCER

With the greatest event on the international sports calendar, The World Cup, only weeks away, it should come as no surprise that SFF 2014 catches a little football fever. French sporty splatter-pic Goal of the Dead mashes zombie-apocalypse tropes with Euro-soccer action; Romanian director Corneliu Porumboui commentates uncut footage of a snowbound 1988 game in the bracingly unique The Second Game; two football-mad nations, Italy and Argentina, co-produce Paolo Zucca’s monochromatic farce, The Referee; and, the documentary Next Goal Wins (pictured, above), which charts the resurrection of the Samoan national side after their record-breaking 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001.

THE FILMS OF ISAO TAKAHATA
The animation veteran never achieved the mainstream profile of his Ghibli Studios contemporary, Hiyao Miyazaki, but Isao Takahata (pictured, right) is just as revered in his homeland and amongst aficionados of Japanese cell-art. Arguably his greatest achievement, the heartbreaking survival story Grave of the Fireflies, will screen in the Salute to Studio Ghibli retrospective; his most recent work, the moving, majestic fable The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, will be a Special Presentation screening at the appropriately grand State Theatre.

JAMES BENNING: THE VISIONARY OUTSIDER
Existing in a rarefied cinematic ether full of visions that dance between mainstream film language and avant garde experimentalism, Milwaukee-born Benning is an enigma in international cinema. Nick Bradshaw in Sight and Sound magazine observed, “James Benning’s movies pose an idealistic challenge, a spur to unattainably pure observation.” For four decades, his works have explored the American geo-political landscape through the lens of a patriot, albeit one that questions the murky ethics and humanist impact of his society. “All my films,” he has said, “are an attempt to ask, how liberated am I? Where did I come from? How am I progressing?” Benning will attend, along with director Gabe Kinger, who will introduce his documentary Double Play, a ‘Dinner with Andre’-style pairing of Benning and Richard Linklater.

SNOWPIERCER
No great shock that Bong Joon-Ho’s action epic will play in competition; the director’s long history with SFF dates back to 2004’s Memories of Murder, and the critically-acclaimed film has been a smash-hit in his home market, South Korea. The surprise, and a very pleasant one, is that local distributor Roadshow Films (notorious for sending hard-to-market niche product straight to DVD) will screen the director’s cut ahead of a planned Australian theatrical season. Starring Chris Evans, the film has only just set a US release date of June 27 after a protracted edit-suite war with distributor Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein.

THE iMOM
Imagine Spike Jonze Her by way of Chris Columbus’ Bicentennial Man and you have Ariel Martin’s The iMom, just one of the stand-out finalists of this years Dendy Short Film awards. Fresh off its feting at Flickerfest, Martin’s imaginative take on hi-tech parenting will compete with new works from such talents as Warwick Young (Stuffed), Dave Wade (Welcome to Iron Knob) and Jessica Harris (Crochet Noir).

EXHIBITION: ROSEBUD
Thanks largely to the boundless enthusiasm of organiser Mathieu Ravier, the Festival meeting spot The Hub has become a vibrant space in which patrons can unwind and engage in buff banter. In 2014, it welcomes photo-art exhibition Rosebud, from famed lensman Hugh Carpenter, so named after the (spoiler alert) sled in Welles’ Citizen Kane. His work captures celebrities with the one item in their possession that they believe helps define them or holds some significant meaning.

WILLOW CREEK
It runs a lean 78 minutes, utilises the increasingly tiresome ‘found footage’ device, stars no-name actors Alexie Gilmore (pictured right) and Bryce Johnson and riffs on the hoary old ‘Bigfoot’ legend; not to mention it is directed by that comic from Police Academy 2 with the shrill, barking voice, Bobcat Goldthwait. So why is Willow Creek shaping up as the giddy thrill-ride of the always popular Freak Me Out program strand? It has some competition, though – Jerome Sable’s blackly-funny musical theatre/slasher effort, Stage Fright; Japan/Indonesia co-production, Killers, from the twisted minds of The Mo Brothers; and, the long overdue snowbound-zombie sequel, Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead.

Full details of the Sydney Film Festival 2014 program and ticket sales can be found here.