This year’s Sydney Film Festival program is an Australian film lover’s dream

The 66th Sydney Film Festival program was officially launched today by Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

“This year celebrates a resurgent year of Australian cinema, with an exceptional selection of contemporary Australian stories including 23 World Premieres,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “From Mirrah Foulkes’ feminist revenge tale Judy & Punch, to Partho Sen-Gupta’s politically provocative drama Slam, to Ben Lawrence’s deeply moving Hearts and Bones starring Hugo Weaving, great Australian storytellers join globally renowned filmmakers to share crucial perspectives on our world.”

“This year’s program holds a mirror to titanic shifts culturally and politically, with films that will challenge and excite us. Shining a light on subjects that are often little explored or seen, these films are an invitation for us to collectively reflect on who we are, and what may lay ahead,” he said.

“The Festival also stands with talented women filmmakers, in an industry still struggling with equality. With the Europe! Voices of Women in Film strand, and retrospective programs celebrating pioneering women including our tribute to the late Agnès Varda, the Festival this year has signed the 5050×2020 pledge, committing to working towards gender parity and inclusion in film festivals,” he said.

In 2019 the Festival will present 307 films from over 55 countries including 33 World Premieres, bringing together hundreds of international and local stories. There are 112 feature films, including prize-winners from prestigious festivals around the world; and 79 documentaries tackling crucial contemporary issues, from established and upcoming documentarians.

The program also includes two retrospectives on influential women directors: Viva Varda: A Retrospective of Agnès Varda and in Essential Australian Women Directors – 10 Trailblazers Selected by David Stratton.

Following this morning’s launch of the 66th Sydney Film Festival program, we’ve put together a list of Australian feature films screening at this year’s festival for your convenience. You can find a complete list of Australian short films, documentaries and retrospective films screening at this year’s Sydney Film Festival here!

Sydney Film Festival runs 5 – 16 June 2019. 

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Palm Beach
Opening Night Gala 2019 
Directed by Rachel Ward
Written by Joanna Murray-Smith, Rachel Ward
Starring 
Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Greta Scacchi, Jacqueline McKenzie, Richard E Grant
In Rachel Ward’s funny, uplifting drama/comedy, a group of lifelong friends reunite for a party at Sydney’s Palm Beach; but tension mounts when deep secrets emerge.

I Am Mother
Directed by Grant Sputore
Written by Michael Lloyd Green
Cast 
Clara Rugaard, Hilary Swank, Rose Byrne
Hilary Swank and Clara Rugaard star in a compelling Australian sci-fi about a human child raised by a robot mother in a post-apocalyptic future. Official selection, Sundance.

Emu Runner
Written and Directed by Imogen Thomas
Starring Wayne Blair, Rhae-Kye Waites, Rob Carlton
In an outback NSW town a young Indigenous girl forms a very special bond with a wild emu, in a unique Australian story of love and loss.

Judy & Punch
Written and Directed by Mirrah Foulkes
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Damon Herriman, Tom Budge
Mirrah Foulkes’s astonishing, indefinable feature debut reimagines the Judy & Punch puppet show as a blackly comic feminist revenge tale starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman.

Animals
Directed by Sophie Hyde
Written by Emma Jane Unsworth
Starring Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Fra Fee
Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat shine as best friends who live in a haze of drink, drugs and one-night stands, in the hilarious new film by Australian Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays).

Suburban Wildlife
Directed by Imogen McCluskey
Written by Imogen McCluskey, Béatrice Barbeau-Scurla
Starring Maddy McWilliam, Alex King, Priscilla Doueihy, Hannah Lehmann
The highly anticipated hometown debut – after its premiere at Cinequest Film Fest – of this authentic depiction of suburban angst and the struggles of young, post-Uni Australians.

The Nightingale
Written and Directed by Jennifer Kent
Starring Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Aisling Franciosi
Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) returns with a searing revenge drama about a young convict woman in Van Diemen’s Land, 1825. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Venice 2018.

Standing Up For Sunny
Written and Directed by Steve Vidler
Starring RJ Mitte, Philippa Northeast, Italia Hunt
Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte stars in this charming Australian rom-com about a loner with cerebral palsy who is roped into helping a comedian (Philippa Northeast) overcome her shyness.

Sequin in a Blue Room
Directed by Samuel Van Grinsven
Written by Samuel Van Grinsven and Jory Anast
Starring Conor Leach, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Anthony Brandon Wong
Sexual discovery is on-demand for 16-year-old Sequin, whose hook-up app obsession sends him down a dangerous path in this highly-accomplished queer coming-of-age tale.

Slam
Written and Directed by Partho Sen-Gupta
Starring Adam Bakri, Rachael Blake, Rebecca Breeds
A young Muslim activist and slam poet goes missing in this tense Sydney-set mystery with a sharp perspective on Islamophobia by Partho Sen-Gupta (Sunrise, SFF 2015).

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan
Directed by Kriv Stenders
Written by Stuart Beattie
Starring Travis Fimmel, Luke Bracey, Alexander England
An emotional and visceral exploration of a key battle in the Vietnam war – pitting 108 young Australian soldiers against 2500 – by Kriv Stenders (Red Dog, Australia Day, SFF 2017).

Hearts and Bones
Directed
by Ben Lawrence
Written by Ben Lawrence, Beatrix Christian
Starring Hugo Weaving, Andrew Luri, Hayley McElhinney
In Ben Lawrence’s beautifully acted debut feature, a war photographer (Hugo Weaving) and a refugee (Andrew Luri) discover a photograph that threatens to destroy them both.

Dark Place
Directors Björn Stewart, Perun Bonser, Kodie Bedford, Liam Phillips, Rob Braslin
Written by Kodie Bedford, Björn Stewart, Liam Phillips, Perun Bonser, Rob Braslin
Starring Clarence Ryan, Charlie Garber, Leonie Whyman, Tasia Zalar, Lily Sullivan, Luka May Glynn-Cole, Katherine Beckett
A very special SFF and FMO presentation: the world premiere of an Australian Indigenous horror anthology. Five terrifically twisted tales by five Indigenous filmmakers. 

More details here.

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