We selected 20 Films worth watching at the Sydney Film Festival that will take place from June 7th – 18th, in Sydney. In this post we share the second part of our list.
Manifesto by Julian Rosefeldt – Germany | 2016 – 94 min.
Taking on roles as diverse as a homeless man, preppy newsreader, and puppeteer, Blanchett is a chameleon. She playfully embodies key artistic manifestos including those of the Futurists, Dadaists and Lars von Trier’s Dogma 95. The ideas of a range of artists, including Yvonne Rainer and Jim Jarmusch, are also explored. Manifesto was commissioned as an installation by, amongst others, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. The ideas find new life in this feature-length form. With its stunning visuals and Blanchett’s luminous performances, it is far more than a catalogue of famous manifestos. In questioning the role of art and artists in society today, it is a call to action.
June 8th Thursday – Hayden Orpheum Cromorne – 8:30 pm
June 12th Monday – Event Cinemas George St 4 – 4:00 pm
Newton by Amit V. Masurkar – India | 2017 – 106 min.
As India prepares for a general election with nine million polling booths and over 800 million voters – the world’s largest democracy – the principled clerk Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) is entrusted to conduct voting in a remote jungle village. He is challenged by extreme Maoist guerrillas determined to stop the election process, security forces who couldn’t care less about the outcome either way, and a local populace hardly infected with the spirit of democracy. Newton is thwarted at every turn. In this superb, absurdist comedy, director Amit V Masurkar succeeds in interrogating the difference between the rhetoric and reality of democracy.
June 10th Saturday – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 6:15 pm
June 18th Sunday – Event Cinemas George St 8 – 5:30 pm
Okja by Bong Joon-ho – South Korea, USA | 2017 – 120 min.
Bong Joon-ho makes his second English language film with Okja, starring Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, An Seo-hyun, Daniel Henshall and Steven Yeun.
For 10 years, Mija (An) has cared for her best friend, a ‘Super Pig’ named Okja, in the mountains of South Korea. The two share an intensely close bond, but then Dr Johnny Wilcox (Gyllenhaal) arrives to take Okja to New York for a Super Pig contest. Okja is actually owned by the multi-national Mirando Corporation, run by self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (Swinton). Mija is determined to save her kidnapped friend at all costs, and is joined by the Animal Liberation Front led by Jay (Dano), an organisation determined to uncover Mirando’s true activities.
June 18th Sunday – Event Cinemas George St 4 – 8:45 pm
Ordinary People by Eduardo Roy Jr. – Philippines | 2016 – 107 min.
There’s nothing ordinary about the way Ordinary People draws us into the lives of 16-year-old Jane (Hasmine Killip, in a knockout debut) and 17-year-old Aries (Ronwaldo Martin). The harsh urban environment where they steal to survive is frequently seen in silent, impersonal CCTV footage. On the ground it’s a different matter. Palpable urgency and heart-wrenching emotion fill the frame, as fate turns cruelly and the young parents become victims of the most devastating theft of all. This compassionate tale of life on the margins firmly establishes Eduardo W. Roy Jr. (Baby Factory, Quick Change) as one of the most vital voices in contemporary Filipino cinema.
June 10th Saturday – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 4:15 pm
June 13th Tuesday – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 8:10 pm
Rage by Sang-il Lee – Japan | 2016 – 142 min.
A murder scene in which a married couple has been killed and the word ‘rage’ is written in blood on a wall: a year later, there are no leads. The film begins to follow three characters: there’s a dockworker in Chiba, a gay man who starts a relationship in Tokyo, and a young survivalist in Okinawa. These mysterious men have worked their way into the lives of people who are drawn to them – and soon become subjects of suspicion. Director Lee Sang-il expertly raises the tension, but is just as concerned with creating a compelling drama about the relationships these men form in these communities. The result is an unusually complex and impressive whodunit.
June 11th Sunday – Event Cinemas George St 11 – 8:45 pm
June 14th Wednesday – Dendy Newtown Cinema – 6:15 pm
Ran by Akira Kurosawa – Japan | 1985 – 162 min.
Like Kagemusha, Ran was only able to be financed with help from abroad, in this case France. Kurosawa’s last great epic film, this, like so many of his other films, is set in the 16th Century – but this time the director has drawn, once again, on Shakespeare for his inspiration, and the story is a re-working of ‘King Lear’, with the three daughters of the original replaced by three sons. Keeping the bare bones of the original, Kurosawa once again revels both in the pageantry and colour of his battle scenes and in the personal tragedies of the characters involved in what is obviously a pointless conflict. The word ‘ran’ means ‘war’ or sometimes ‘conflict’, but Kurosawa said at the time he was reaching back to the word’s older meaning – ‘chaos’.
It’s a pessimistic film in which the director’s constant theme – the difficulty of upholding human values – results in apocalyptic destruction. Of particular interest is the character of the Fool, who is played by Peter (Shinnosuke Ikehata), who at the time was well known as a cross dresser and singer. Again, Tatsuya Nakadai plays the leading role, that of the elderly ruler whose plans for transition to the next generation are foiled by greed and stupidity.
June 18th Sunday – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 2:00 pm
Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa – Japan | 1954 – 207 min.
Kurosawa’s admiration for the American western, and his love for the films of John Ford, became evident to western audiences for the first time with this thrilling epic, though at the time they were denied the opportunity of seeing the film in its original form. At about three and a half hours, the Japanese producers believed that the film would be too taxing for foreigners and insisted on shortening it by almost an hour, which is how it was seen for many years (including at its Australian debut at the 1956 Sydney Film Festival).
Set in the 16th Century, the film introduces the peasant inhabitants of a remote village who live in fear of the annual raid by vicious bandits, who steal their crops and rape their women. They hire seven samurai, professional warriors, to protect them, and though the money they offer is paltry they find a leader (Takashi Shimura) willing to recruit a team and accept the challenge. The meticulous build-up to the vigorously staged action that constitutes the last third of the film is vital to establish the characters of both the peasants and the samurai, with Toshiro Mifune’s ‘fake’ samurai the film’s most intriguing character. Hollywood has twice transformed the film into a western, in 1960 and again in 2016.
June 11th Sunday – Art Gallery of NSW – 10:15 am
The Untamed by Amat Escalante – Mexico | 2016 – 98 min.
Following on from his harrowing 2013 crime drama Heli, which won Best Director at Cannes, the talented Amat Escalante has changed tack completely in this unique, category-defying film. At its centre is young mother Alejandra, who is raising two boys with her boorish husband Angel. All is not well with this family, but the arrival of the mysterious Veronica brings promise of a solution to all their problems: in an isolated cabin there is something not of this world, something irresistible that’s able to provide both matchless pleasure and devastating pain. Filled with indelible images, and with Escalante brilliantly in control of every moment, The Untamed is provocative and singular.
June 8th – Thursday – State Theatre – 9:00 pm
June 9th Friday – State Theatre – 12:20 pm
June 10th Saturday – Dendy Newton – 8:00 pm
The Woman who left by Lav Diaz – Philippines | 2016 – 226 min.
Lav Diaz is known for his very long narrative films that reflect on the history of the Philippines and the effect on its present. In The Woman Who Left, over nearly four hours Diaz focuses on Horacia (Charo Santos-Cancio) who has spent 30 years in a women’s prison for a murder she didn’t commit. Unexpectedly released, Horacia finds her country outside the prison walls has changed drastically – her family has scattered, and the nation is terrorised by kidnappings and government corruption. A humane meditation on forgiveness and a criticism of systemic inequality, shot in rich, saturated black and white, The Woman Who Left is testament to Diaz’s uncompromising and beguiling artistry.
June 11th Sunday – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 3 – 11:15 am
June 17th Saturday – Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 2 – 10:00 am
White Sun by Deepak Rauniyar – Napal, USA, Qatar, Netherlands | 2016 – 89 min.
11 years after civil war brought victory to Maoist insurgents and the abolition of monarchy, Nepal remains troubled by social and political division. In this richly metaphorical tale, rebel hero Chandra and his estranged Royalist brother Suraj are required by tradition to transport their father’s body to a distant cremation site. Squabbles soon break out, leaving the corpse stranded. Unfolding against the backdrop of Nepal’s struggle to achieve unity and prosperity, White Sun makes a powerful plea for understanding as the only way forward for people and the nation. Magnificent photography and well-timed shots of absurdist humour add the finishing touches to Deepak Rauniyar’s outstanding Venice Film Festival award-winner.
June 13th Tuesday – State Theatre – 2:25 pm
June 17th Saturday – Event Cinemas George St 8 – 2:00 pm
You may also find interesting to know which are the:
15 Short Films you cannot miss at the Sydney Film Festival
15 Documentaries you cannot miss at the Sydney Film Festival
20 Films you cannot miss at the Sydney Film Festival (part 1)