Film Festival

20 Films you can’t miss at the Sydney Film Festival


We present a list of 20 Films worth watching at the Sydney Film Festival that will take place from June 8th – 19th in the beautiful city of Sydney (Australia).

A Copy of My Mind

A Copy of My Mind by Joko Anwar – Indonesia, South Korea | 2015 – 116 min.

Sari (Tara Basro), when not working at the salon, spends her spare time watching monster movies on pirated DVDs. When she complains about dodgy subtitles on one of her discs, she’s introduced to the man who ineptly subtitles them, Alek (Chicco Jerikho). What starts as a fun, erotic, yet decidedly peculiar affair is quickly jeopardized. The couple’s lives are put in grave danger when they discover that a disc stolen by Sari contains evidence of government corruption. Joko Anwar’s fifth film (his debut, Joni’s Promise, screened at SFF 2005) masterfully shifts gears from charming, low-key romance to a suspenseful and immersive depiction of urban Jakarta and Indonesia’s political climate.

TRAILER (Will open in another window)

06.13.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 9 – 8:15 pm
06.15.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 8:20 pm

A War

A War by Tobias Lindholm – Denmark | 2015 – 116 min.

Asbæk (Borgen, Game of Thrones) is company commander Claus M. Pedersen stationed in an Afghan province. Back in Denmark his wife Maria tries to keep things together, caring for their three children who desperately miss their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences. Casting former Danish soldiers and Afghan refugees, Lindholm has created a realistic, gripping film that looks at the moral dilemmas and personal consequences faced by those in war zones. Equally adept at tension-filled scenes of armed conflict as it is with the emotional repercussions, A War is a meticulous and exceptional film.

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06.09.2016 – Hayden Orpheum Cremorne – 6:15 pm
06.13.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 4 – 2:00 pm

Alice in Earnestland

Alice in Earnestland by Ahn Gooc-Jin – South Korea | 2015 – 90 min.

As Soonam tells the therapist she’s tied up, she’s always tried to do the right thing, but has always ended up a victim. With her husband in a coma and bills to pay, she works hard but finds herself on the wrong end of political disputes, police enquiries and vicious interrogations. It’s enough to drive a woman to murder… Casting present-day Korea as ‘Earnestland’, the film pinpoints all the dark forces which conspire to grind down a modern Candide. Ahn Goocjin’s debut (made at Korea’s premier film school KAFA) has wildly exciting visuals, even wilder action – and some very sobering implications. Bone-shaking farce meets political satire in a film that is often truly scary. But the ending will have you cheering.

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06.19.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 2:15 pm

Angry Indian Goddesses

Angry Indian Goddesses by Pan Nalin – India, Germany | 2015 – 104 min.

Ahead of Frieda’s pending nuptials, a group of her closest friends gather to catch up on lost time at her beachside home in Goa. The diverse bunch includes a singer, photographer, actress, activist, a trophy wife and a businesswoman. Their conversation flows freely and jubilantly, leading to revealing and often hilarious discussions that span everything from sex to gender politics to the handsome guy next door. That is, until an incident threatens to break their newly formed bond. An audience favourite at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Angry Indian Goddesses is a riotous, genre-bending gem that explores the pressing issues of gender and sexism in contemporary Indian society.

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06.11.2016 – Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre – 7:30 pm
06.12.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 4 – 8:30 pm
06.13.2016 – Hayden Orpheum Cremorne – 4:00 pm


Apprentice by Boo Junfeng – Singapore | 2016 – 96 min.

Selected for Cannes Un Certain Regard, Boo Junfeng’s second feature is an emotionally and psychologically astute film about a Singaporean correctional officer who serves as the apprentice to the chief executioner. Aiman is a 28-year-old prison guard who lives with his sister in modest circumstances. When he is transferred to a new prison, Aiman becomes fascinated by an older warden named Rahim, who turns out to be the long-serving chief executioner of the prison. Soon Rahim asks Aiman to serve as his apprentice. Aiman harbours a secret however; one that has had a profound effect on his family life, and will certainly impact on his new career path. Superb cinematography (partly shot at the decommissioned facilities of Maitland Gaol and Parramatta Correctional Centre in New South Wales) and clever sound design create an eerie sense of darkness and loss at the prison. Apprentice powerfully surveys the impact of capital punishment on death-row prisoners, their families, and the executioners themselves. Filled with conflict and tension, this is a complex and rewarding film.
(This movie competes in the Official Competition)

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06.16.2016 – State Theatre – 6:35 pm
06.17.2016 – State Theatre – 12:05 pm

Barakah Meets Barakah

Barakah Meets Barakah by Mahmoud Sabbagh – Saudi Arabia | 2016 – 88 min.

Barakah (Hisham Fageeh) is a municipal worker from a humble background while Bibi (Fatima Al Banawi) is the beautiful and stylish adopted daughter of a wealthy couple. Barakah goes about his mundane tasks, following rules he’s unsure about. In stark contrast, the sophisticated fashionista Bibi lives the high life, committed to cultivating her personal social media brand. When the two meet by chance, sparks fly. A first date, though, is no simple matter because unchaperoned meetings and physical contact are strictly forbidden. The two romantics must find a way around the rules to get to know each other. Filled with a sharp, frank humour, and with subtle social commentary, Barakah Meets Barakah is an enchanting love story.

06.16.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 4 – 6:15 pm
06.17.2016 – State Theatre – 2:20 pm


Beast by Sam and Tom McKeith – Australia, Philippines | 2015 – 94 min.

Beast marks an impressive debut feature for Australian brothers and AFTRS graduates Sam and Tom McKeith, as well as lead actor Chad McKinney. Managed by his American dad Rick (Garret Dillahunt, No Country for Old Men), Jaime (McKinney) is a mixed-race boxer who partakes in a rigged match organised by his father, who has connections to local gangsters. When Jaime’s opponent dies after being knocked out by blows from gloves filled with plaster, he is filled with remorse. His efforts to protect his opponent’s widow end up putting him on a collision course with the mob. Effectively capturing both the sultry humidity and threat of violence that lingers over Manila at night, Beast is a tense, powerful moral drama.

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06.12.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 8:40 pm
06.18.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 8 – 2:30 pm

Desde Alla

Desde Allá by Lorenzo Vigas – Venezuela | 2015 – 93 min.

‘Desde allá’ translates to ‘from afar’, a title that aptly captures the literal and figurative distances that characterise this impressive debut feature from director Lorenzo Vigas. Wealthy, closeted Armando (Alfredo Castro) cruises the streets of Caracas looking for young men to pay for look-but-don’t-touch sexual activities. When one of these clients assaults and robs him, he decides to track him down rather than report the incident. Quite unexpectedly, a relationship develops between these two very different but equally disenfranchised men. With an exacting visual style reminiscent of Michael Haneke, this absorbing and psychologically nuanced character study marks the arrival of an exciting new filmmaker.

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06.14.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 4 – 8:30 pm
06.19.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 6:30 pm

Free in Deed

Free in Deed by Jake Mahaffy – US | 2015 – 98 min.

Jake Mahaffy’s film takes us into the churches and communities where miracles are both believed and desperately needed. Single mother Melva (Edwina Findley, Treme) grows increasingly distressed by the lack of adequate care available to her autistic son, who is deemed unmanageable by both the school system and the medical profession. A minister (David Harewood, Homeland) with an obviously troubled past is determined to heal the boy, but things spiral out of control. Through an intimate story, and with a cast of mostly non-professional actors, New Zealand-based American director Mahaffy creates a haunting film that immerses us in a society where religion offers the only comfort in a sea of indifference.

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06.09.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 8 – 6:00 pm
06.11.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 4:10 pm

Fukushima mon amour

Fukushima, mon amour by Doris Dorrie – Germany | 2016 – 104 min.

The story unfolds in the town’s Exclusion Zone after a triple catastrophe (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear leak) devastated the area and its inhabitants. Marie (Rosalie Thomass) has recently left Germany in the wake of a personal tragedy, and is working with the ‘Clowns4Help’ organisation to spread cheer to elderly refugees in the region. There, Marie meets the last geisha left in the town, Satomi (Kaori Momoi), and together these two women of vastly different generations and cultural backgrounds form a tentative friendship. Shot in stunning black and white, writer/director Doris Dörrie’s film is a simultaneously whimsical and affecting look at moving on from tragedy through human connection.

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06.11.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 8:35 pm
06.15.2016 – State Theatre – 4:15 pm

It's Only the End of the World

It’s Only the End of the World by Xavier Dolan – Franca, Canada | 2016 – 97 min.

Prodigiously talented Xavier Dolan, who at the age of 27 has already created a distinctive body of work, has made perhaps his most emotional and immersive film, the 2016 Cannes Competition contender It’s Only The End Of The World. Dolan, who won the Sydney Film Prize with Heartbeats (SFF 2010), and the Jury Prize at Cannes with Mommy (SFF 2014), is a superb chronicler of relationships, both romantic and familial. In his new film, he assembles a standout French cast for an intense family drama based on the eponymous play by Jean-Luc Lagarce. Successful writer Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) returns to his hometown after a twelve-year absence to break the news of his impending death. He is welcomed, with varying degrees of warmth, by his mother (Nathalie Baye), sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux), brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) and sister-in-law Catherine (Marion Cotillard). What should be a sincere reunion soon turns into an afternoon of bickering and recriminations, and Louis’ mind wanders back to some pivotal memories. With extreme close-ups eliciting raw, expressive performances from the superb cast, the film draws you in close, as if you are yourself a member of this family of strangers.
(This movie competes in the Official Competition)

06.11.2016 – State Theatre – 7:00 pm
06.12.2016 – State Theatre – 11:45 am

Land of Mine

Land of Mine by Martin Zandvliet – Denmark, Germany | 2015 – 101 min.

Winner of awards and audience prizes at several festivals, Land of Mine, based on extraordinary true events, is an edgy thriller about young German prisoners of war forced to disarm hidden weapons in the aftermath of World War II. Following the Nazi surrender, a group of teenaged Germans, conscripted at the tail end of the war, are put to work on the coast of Denmark. With minimal training, they are sent to disarm the landmines that lie hidden on Danish beaches. The Danish sergeant, Rasmussen (Roland Møller, A Hijacking, SFF 2013) supervises the young soldiers with an iron fist. Embittered by the brutal German occupation, he initially lacks sympathy for the young men as they go about their dangerous daily task. Gradually empathy develops, and Rasmussen grows to recognise the horror of the situation. Director Martin Zandvliet creates extraordinary tension but his humane concerns are very much the centre of the film, and he draws heartbreaking performances from his talented cast. Land of Mine is a sensitive and unforgettable film about a little-known part of history that has great resonance all these years later.
(This movie competes in the Official Competition)

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06.12.2016 – State Theatre – 6:45 pm
06.13.2016 – State Theatre – 11:45 am
06.19.2016 – Hayden Orpheum Cremorne – 6:15 pm

Life After Life2

Life after Life by Zhang Hanyi – China | 2015 – 80 min.

Among the eerily sparse landscapes of a soon-to-be-demolished rural village lives young Leilei (Zhang Li). He becomes possessed by the spirit of his late mother, who tells Leilei’s father Mingchun (Zhang Mingjun) that she’s returned to salvage the tree that stands outside their former home. Together they embark on an epic quest, navigating expansive forests, dilapidated houses and anonymous industrial wastelands in sequences marked by absurd humour and striking imagery. Sharing common themes of socio-economic upheaval and globalisation with producer Jia Zhangke’s (Still Life, SFF 2007) own dramas, Life After Life is a bold, formally daring film that marks the emergence of a fresh new talent in Chinese cinema.

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06.12.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 4:40 pm
06.13.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 8:30 pm

Non Fiction Diary

Non Fiction Diary by Jung Yoon-suk – South Korea | 2013 – 93 min.

Jung is known for his politically barbed conceptual short films, and this debut feature echoes their wit and originality. He starts from the singular case of the Jijon Gang, young men in a rural backwater who killed five people in the year after the transition to civilian government. After exploring their confused and contradictory motivations, Jung turns to other disasters of the period – the collapse of the Seongsu Bridge in Seoul and the collapse of the Sampoong Department Store, in which many were killed – to ask broader questions about culpability and negligence in a newly ‘democratic’ society. His provocative arguments are underlined with startling archival footage.

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06.17.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 6:45 pm


Rosita by Frederikke Aspock – Denmark | 2015 – 92 min.

Ulrik (Jens Albinus) is the manager of a Danish fishing plant whose wife passed away years ago. One of his acquaintances suggests an arranged marriage to Rosita (Mercedes Cabral), a girl in her mid-20s from the Philippines. When Rosita arrives, the language barrier proves to be a hurdle. Complicating matters even further is Ulrik’s adult son Johannes (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, A Royal Affair), and his growing affection for the young woman. Director Frederikke Aspöck’s charming, surprising film outlines the difficulties facing women in Rosita’s predicament with a wonderful blend of compassion and humor.

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06.11.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 2:00 pm
06.13.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 4:00 pm

Stateless Things

Stateless Things by Kim Kyung-mook – South Korea | 2011 – 117 min.

Kim is a social and sexual misfit – one of the few openly gay men in Korean cinema – and one of the country’s finest indie filmmakers. Here, two slowly converging storylines (one set in wealth, the other in abject poverty) allow him to reflect quite profoundly on what it’s like to be an outsider in a deeply conformist society. Jun is an illegal immigrant from the North, stuck in dead-end jobs, always on the run and living in fear. Hyeon is the kept boy of a married businessman, virtually imprisoned in a swanky apartment near the National Assembly building. Both young men are in some sense victims of a hypocritical society. A rent-boy website brings them together, with shocking consequences.

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06.18.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 1:25 pm


Tharlo by Pema Tseden – China | 2015 – 123 min.

‘I know who I am. Isn’t that enough?’ says Tharlo (played exquisitely by Shide Nyima), when a local policeman tells him to get a photo ID card. This simple process leads him to see his own life with fresh eyes, aided by his growing affection for local hairdresser Yangchuo (Yangshik Tso). Her intentions, however, are not as pure as they initially appear. This fourth feature film from Pema Tseden comments incisively on the clash between tradition and modernity that defines life in contemporary Tibet. A slow-burning heartbreaker that unfolds with fable-like simplicity, Tharlo demands to be seen on a big screen for its austere, enveloping beauty.

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06.08.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 6:10 pm
06.12.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 2:15 pm


Thithi by Raam Reddy – India | 2015 – 123 min.

When Century Gowda – having earned the name for passing the 100-year mark – dies, respectful plans are made for his funeral and 11-day memorial, or ‘thithi’. But other plans are underway too. Century’s grandson Thamanna plots to sell off the family land to make a quick buck, but discovers that the land now belongs to his father Gadappa, whose sole interests are booze and cigarettes. Meanwhile Abhi, the youngest of the clan, tries to seduce an attractive shepherdess. Quite unlike the Indian cinema we’re accustomed to, Thithi is a cleverly written and comical look at desire, materialism and freedom, featuring fantastic performances from a mostly non-professional cast.

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06.14.2016 – Event Cinemas George Street 8 – 6:15 pm
06.18.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 4:05 pm

Wednesday May 9

Wednesday, May 9 by Vahid Jalilvand – Iran | 2015 – 102 min.

When an advertisement for a 30 million toman (US$ 9,500) giveaway appears in a Tehran newspaper, the lure of much-needed cash draws crowds of the afflicted. Leila (Karimi) would use the money to fund her paraplegic husband’s corrective surgery while Setareh (Sahar Ahmadpour) needs the cash to bail out her husband from prison. Gradually, we learn of the touching backstories and more about the mysterious donor and his motives. Director Vahid Jalilvand is empathetic in his telling of these stories, using domestic settings and a naturalistic style to illuminate social injustices. Creating tension at every turn, Wednesday, May 9 draws its audience deep into the tangled web of the predicaments it raises.

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06.09.2016 – State Theatre – 1:35 pm
06.11.2016 – Hayden Orpheum Cremorne – 6:00 pm
06.16.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 6:30 pm

What's in the darkness

What’s in the Darkness by Wang Yichun – China | 2015 – 98 min.

The first feature from writer-director Wang Yichun is a self-financed, long-in-the-making labour of love, with a screenplay based on memories of her own childhood in Hebei province in the early 90s. It’s alternately a police procedural and a coming-of-age film, focusing on Jing (Su Xiaotong), a teenage girl who finds herself at the centre of a local murder investigation. A woman’s body has been found, with an autopsy revealing rape and mutilation. Jing embarks on some amateur sleuthing, and finds the real culprit to be a toxically patriarchal society at large. This is an engrossing and wholly original tweak on the police-procedural genre that announces a bold new voice in contemporary Chinese cinema.

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06.10.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 6:20 pm
06.12.2016 – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 7:45 pm

To confirm schedule hours and to get more information please visit the official webpage of the festival here: Sydney Film Festival

You may find interesting to know which are the 10 Short Films and 15 Documentaries you can’t miss this year at the Sydney Film Festival.

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