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A curating partnership with Blackfella Films, a Bertolucci retrospective and a Competition list which includes films from the Cannes selection mark the inaugural program for incoming director of the Sydney Film Festival, Nashen Moodley.

Blackfella Films is a new programming partner for the Sydney Film Festival this year, “to jointly curate and present the best and newest Indigenous work from Australia and around the world.” Included in this new joint program will be a World Premiere screening of Mabo on Thursday 7 June - celebrating the 20th anniversary of the High Court decision recognising the rights of Indigenous people to their traditional lands.

Launching this year’s Sydney Film Festival yesterday (May 9, 2012), incoming Festival Director Nashen Moodley said, “I’m excited to present my first Sydney Film Festival program, opening with the world premiere of the uplifting Australian comedy Not Suitable for Children, a quintessentially Sydney film. The joy of a film festival is the breadth and diversity of program, and this year’s will span music documentaries, horror flicks and Bertolucci classics. The Official Competition films will provoke, court controversy, broaden our understanding of the world and say important things in innovative ways.” 

"hosted in eight venues"

The program will be hosted in eight venues across the city including the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Art Gallery of NSW, Apple Store, Grasshopper Lounge and SFFTV@Martin Place. Also new this year is Sydney Film Festival Hub @ Lower Town Hall a few minutes’ walk from the Festival's major venues. The Festival Hub will feature free exhibitions, talks, panels, parties, live music, performances, DJs and screenings in the Mitsubishi Theatrette throughout the Festival.

The 2012 Festival will showcase a total of 157 titles: 56 features, 40 documentaries, 32 short films, 14 retrospective titles; the list includes 18 world premieres (11 features, 7 shorts), 107 Australian premieres, 30 Australian productions (5 features, 7 documentaries, 18 short films) – in all, films from 50 countries in 48 languages. 

Opening Night
The World Premiere of Aussie comedy Not Suitable For Children – directed by Peter Templeman (The Saviour) and starring Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Snook, Ryan Corr and Bojana Novakovic – will kick start the 2012 Sydney Film Festival at the State Theatre on Wednesday 6 June at 7.30pm, followed by an after-party at Bungalow 8, Darling Harbour.

Closing Night:
The World Premiere of American drama Safety Not Guaranteed – directed by Colin Trevorrow (whose short Home Base has received over 20 million hits on YouTube) and starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni – will screen at the State Theatre on Sunday 17 June at 8pm.

Official Competition - The Sydney Film Prize 
In its fifth year, the award is a $60,000 cash prize, Australia’s richest cash award for film, in recognition of the most courageous, audacious and cutting-edge film from the 12 features selected. Previous Sydney Film Festival Official Competition winners include; A Separation (2011) – which went on to win an Academy Award, Heartbeats (2010), Bronson (2009), and Hunger (2008). 

This year’s Official Competition titles include:
Alps (Greece) |Australian Premiere | Director: Yorgos Lanthimos | Cast: Aggeliki Papoulia, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris

Beasts of the Southern Wild (USA) |Australian Premiere|Director: Benh Zeitlin | Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry

Caesar Must Die (Italy) | Australian Premiere |Directors: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani | Cast: Cosimo Rega, Salvatore Striano 

Dead Europe (Australia) | World Premiere | Director: Tony Krawitz | Cast: Ewen Leslie, Marton Csokas, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Gangs of Wasseypur (India) |Australian Premiere | Director: Anurag Kashyap Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chaddha, Tigmanshu Dhulia

The King of Pigs (South Korea) |Australian Premiere |Director: Yuen Sang-ho | Cast: Yang Ik-june, Oh Jeong-se, Kim Hye-na

Lore (Australia) World Premiere |Director: Cate Shortland | Cast: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, André Frid

Monsieur Lazhar (Canada) | Australian Premiere | Director: Philippe Falardeau | Cast: Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron

Neighbouring Sounds (Brazil) |Australian Premiere | Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho | Cast: Irandhir Santos, Gustavo Jahn, Maeve Jinkings Cast:

Irandhir Santos, Gustavo Jahn, Maeve Jinkings 

On the Road (U.S.A) Australian Premiere | Director: Walter Salles | Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart

Tabu (Portugal, Germany, Brazil, France) | Director: Miguel Gomes| Cast: Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira, Carlotto Cotta

Today (France, Senegal) | Director: Alain Gomis | Cast: Saül Williams, Djolof M’Bengue, Anisia Uzeyman

Confirmed guests for the international competition include:
Director Cate Shortland will present the World Premiere of her feature film Lore. Her previous work includes the acclaimed Somersault (2004) which premiered at Cannes and won several AFI and IF Awards. Also present will be the producer of Lore, Liz Watts (also one of the producers of Dead Europe). Liz has previously produced stellar offerings such as Animal Kingdom (2010) and Little Fish (2005).

Philippe Falardeau follows up his three prior award-winning features with Monsieur Lazhar, a comedic drama which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. 

Tony Krawitz, most noted for his short feature film Jewboy (2005) which premiered at Cannes and won 3 AFI Awards and the acclaimed documentary The Tall Man (2011), will present his latest feature Dead Europe, a feature film adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas's novel of the same name. The producer of the film Emile Sherman will also be at the festival. 

Brazilian Kleber Mendonça Filho will present the Australian premiere of his first fiction feature film, Neighbouring Sounds. Over the last decade, his short films The Little Cotton Girl (2003), Green Vinyl (2004), Eletrodoméstica (2005), Friday Night Saturday Morning (2006) and Cold Tropics (2009) have won over 100 awards in Brazil and abroad.

Director and screenwriter Miguel Gomes will be in Sydney for the Australian premiere of his third feature film, the lyrical and expressionistic Tabu. His 2008 feature Our Beloved Month of August screened in the Directors’ Fortnight at the Festival de Cannes, and was subsequently selected in more than 40 international festivals in which it won over a dozen prizes.

Italian actor Salvatore Striani will present the Berlinale Golden Bear winner feature Caesar Must Die an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar staged in a prison in modern-day Rome (by the Taviani brothers). Striani previously starred in the 2008 Cannes’ Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner Gomorrah. 

BAFTA award nominee and Australian producer Rebecca Yeldham will be at the Australian premiere of the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s beat classic, On the Road, starring Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart. Prior to On the Road, Yeldham worked on a number of critically acclaimed titles including The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and The Kite Runner (2007). 

Yuen Sang-ho will be in Sydney to present his first feature, also appearing at the Directors Fortnight at the Festival de Cannes, The King of Pigs. The South Korean Director will showcase his daring, disturbing and violent animated film about bullying, social status and class difference. 

Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize
Eight finalists have been shortlisted for the 2012 FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize, now in its fourth year. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of $10,000 sponsored by FOXTEL and announced at the SFF Closing Night ceremony on Sunday 17 June.

Coniston Massacre (World Premiere) Directors: Francis Jupurrurla Kelly & David Batty | Documentary | Australia

Croker Island Exodus (World Premiere) Director: Steven McGregor | Documentary | Australia

Despite the Gods (Australian Premiere) Director: Penny Vozniak | Documentary | Australia

Dr Sarmast’s Music School (Australian Premiere) Director: Polly Watkins | Documentary | Australia

Killing Anna Director: Paul Gallasch | Documentary | Australia

Missing in the Land of the Gods (World Premiere) Director: Davor Dirlic | Documentary | Australia
Paramedico (World Premiere) Director: Benjamin Gilmour | Documentary | Australia
Utopia (World Premiere) Director: Bruce Petty | Documentary | Australia

The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films – finalists:
B I N O| Australia| Director: Billie Pleffer | Cast: Edvard Hakansson, Nathan Chisholm, Andrew Gischus

Daves Dead (World Premiere) | Australia| Director: Alethea Jones | Cast: Luke Ryan, Patrick Brammall, Charlotte Gregg, Stefan Dennis, Natalie Carr, Susie Dee

Dance Me to the End of Love (World Premiere) | Australia| Director: Martha Goddard| Cast: Leeanna Walsman, Oliver Torr

Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke (World Premiere)| Australia| Director: Mirrah Foulkes| Cast: Emily Tomlins, Anthony Hayes, Eden Falk

Julian| Australia| Director: Matthew Moore| Cast: Ed Oxenbould, Morgana Davies, Leon Ford, Christopher Stollery

Rippled | Australia| Director: Darcy Prendergast 

The Hunter| Australia| Director: Marieka Walsh

The Maker| Australia| Director: Christopher Kezelos 

The Wildling |Australia| Director: Grant Scicluna | Cast: Reef Ireland, Frank Sweet, Luke Mullins, Shannon Glowacki

Yardbird (Australian Premiere) | Australia| Director: Michael Spiccia| Cast: Mitzi Ruhlmann, Wade Briggs, Luke Elliot , James Malcher, Matt Callan

The CRC Award
The Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW provides a $5,000 cash prize to the film whose content best reflects the multicultural experience in Australia. All Australian films screening in the festival that meet the criteria are eligible for this award.

Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award
This Award is given each year to an Australian whose work in film, machinima or new media embodies a visionary spirit and a relentless determination to create high-quality works for the screen. 

Showtime and Movie Channels Audience Award
The Showtime and Movie Channels Audience Award are the people’s choice awards and the winners reflect the most popular films at the Festival. 

Seven music documentaries make up the Sounds on Screen program including Academy Award winning director Kevin Macdonald’s film about the late reggae great, Marley; the Audience Award winning film at South by Southwest Film Festival, Under African Skies; Winner of World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival, Searching for Sugar Man; the philosophy of Tony Bennett and the last known footage of Amy Winehouse in The Zen of Bennett; the fusion of Islamic and Jewish music through Algerian Chaabi traditions in El Gusto; and a special Opera House screening of LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up and Play the Hits. 

This year see the inaugural Sydney Film Festival Hub @ Lower Town Hall offering the public a free venue to relax and mingle before or after screenings, see local and international acts, hear filmmaker talks and grab a drink at the Keystone Bar. The Festival Hub will be the only place where $10 discount tickets for select next day screenings will be available. 

Renowned Paris-based photographer Fabrizio Maltese will open the Festival Hub with a free exhibition of large-scale portraits, featuring iconic film stars and filmmakers. He will present a talk about his experiences shooting one-on-one portraits of celebrities such as Woody Allen, John Hurt and Antonio Banderas in his talk, Confessions of a Festival Photographer on Thursday 7 June at 6pm.

Bertolucci Retrospective
Eight Bernardo Bertolucci films will feature in the program. Highlights include the winner of nine Academy Awards, The Last Emperor, the famously elusive The Spider’s Stratagem and the Oscar nominated Last Tango in Paris, starring a youthful Marlon Brando. 

Nikkatsu 100 Retrospective
Nikkatsu, the first major vertically integrated Japanese movie studio, is one of the oldest film producers in the world. Marking Nikkatsu’s 100 year anniversary, the festival program includes four feature length films from the early 1970s catalogue – a period when the studio gave up on its youth market and switched to make soft porn or ‘Pink’ movies. 

Focus on India
Four independent productions in this sidebar reveal an industry creating work far beyond Bollywood, presenting portraits of a nation grappling with rapid change on every level. 

Freak Me Out
Freak Me Out – a slew of weird films selected by Guest Programmer Richard Kuipers, in its fifth year at SFF, showcases anything from classy European horror in the haunted-house chiller Livid, to super-sleazy Texas trailer trash crime in Killer Joe.

AFTRS presents: 5 Films for an Alien (Sunday 10 June, 6-7.30pm)
What if you had to explain cinema to someone from another planet using only five films as examples? Which films would you pick, and why? Would they be your favourites? The ones that changed cinema the most? Would there be any Australian films on the list? This question, which is both impossible and highly entertaining to speculate about, will be tackled by our special guests: Bruce Beresford, John Collee, Kriv Stenders, and Dr Ruth Harley, CEO, Screen Australia

Published May 9, 2012

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The 59th Sydney Film Festival: 6-17 June 2012
Full program and info: 1300 733 733


Nashen Moodley, Sydney Film Festival director

Not Suitable for Children
Opening Night Film

Safety Not Guaranteed
Closing Night Film

Gangs of Wasseypur


Monsieur Lazhar

Neighbouring Sounds

On the Road

Beasts of the Southern Wild

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