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"I just saw you on television and you're fat "  -Carol on phone to Rod Taylor getting in touch after many years; they got married soon after.
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With the feel of a Western and fusing that genre with police procedural, Ivan Sen’s murder mystery, Mystery Road will open this year’s Sydney Film Festival, taking the rise of Indigenous filmmaking another step forward, while the 12 Competition films (for the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize) include Berlinale Golden Bear winner, Child's Pose and Cannes Competition contenders Borgman and Grigris – and Wadjda, the first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and by that country's first woman filmmaker. It’s a truly enticing window to cinema of the world, says Andrew L. Urban.

Mystery Road

Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda concerns a 10-year-old Saudi girl who wants nothing more than to own a bicycle. It’s indicate of the diversity and colour that Nashen Moodley has gathered into his second Sydney festival, and that extends beyond the Competition.

The one Australian feature in the Competition, Kim Mourdant’s The Rocket, is actually a Laotian story (shot in Laos, with local cast), which underlines the point that an Australian film doesn’t have to have kangaroos or even Balmain bugs in its story; it just has to be made by Australians.

The Stories We Tell

Sarah Polley’s ‘fusion doco’ The Stories We Tell is another welcome competitor; “The facets, the secrets and the different perspectives of love are put under the microscope in this deceptively simple yet devastatingly complex portrayal of a family. The fact that the personal revelations we hear are those of director Sarah Polley’s own family and many of the key players play themselves and bare their souls, changes the nature of the work,” says Louise Keller. “There are many moments when I was moved to tears – when raw truths involving emotions, are delivered by family members in spontaneous, unrehearsed fashion. Polley has crafted a rare jewel of a film.”

"amazing stories from around our world"

The Foxtel Australian Documentary Award, with its $10,000 prize to the best of the 10 selected, promises to satisfy the curious, as does the 34-film strong International doco section … and strong is correct. This section alone would be worth the price of a festival pass, with amazing stories from around our world, from China and Malawi to the Ganges, from chess masters to snowboarding, from champion ballroom dancers to investigative reporters and radical bare breasted burlesque performers … and girls competing in kung fu. 

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks Trailer

Among the doco treasures is We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, by prolific and Oscar winning Alex Gibney. For most people aware of the generalities, this film will draw together the disparate pieces of information and assumption about its subject matter (as mashed up by media reports) in a coherent, mostly chronological manner, while revealing its inscrutability. Gibney doesn’t set out with an agenda either to pillory or to sanctify Assange; he seeks out the various profiles that Assange has shown his followers, fans, enemies and interlocutors over the years. And they are not all in synch. 

"Irresistibly intriguing"

Irresistibly intriguing is Narco Cultura, an ingenious documentary that juxtaposes the life of a Mexican CSI detective who deals with the grisly crimes of drug traffickers in Ciudad Juárez with the L.A.-based singers who glorify them. And there’s much, much more ….

Another great idea (presumably of Moodley’s) is the Brit Noir sidebar, with 13 of them, which includes Odd Man Out. After a violent Belfast robbery goes wrong, an IRA gunman (James Mason) tests his wounded belief in the cause in Carol Reed's first collaboration with Australian-raised cinematographer Rober Krasker before The Third Man.

"The full program comprises 190 titles"

The full program comprises 190 titles (19 world premieres, 5 international premieres, and 121 Australian premieres) from 55 countries at The State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Art Gallery of NSW and the new screening location at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne. The Apple Store Sydney will host a selection of free public talks and SFFTV@Martin Place returns with a free giant outdoor screen showing a selection of SFF highlights plus fascinating shorts from the National Film & Sound Archive. 

The Sydney Film Festival Hub @ Lower Town Hall is back, celebrating the theme of Cinema, Reconstructed. Now open until midnight, it offers an expanding line-up of free exhibitions, talks and panels, parties, performances, DJs and screenings. It is the only place to buy $10 discount tickets for selected films, or take part in a new Film Club to share festival experiences.


Published May 8, 2013

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Sydney Film Festival - Website
Odd Man Out


A doco on Austria’s highest profile working director, Michael Haneke, is one of the 6 films in the Festival’s Focus on Austria. The festival says: It's been a big year for Austrian film. Michael Haneke's Amour (SFF 2012) won both the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Ulrich Seidl's Paradise trilogy achieved the rare feat of playing in competition at the three major festivals: Cannes, Venice and Berlin.

Through this Focus on Austria, we pay tribute to these masters and their colleagues, their films and their methods, to the beautiful city of Vienna, and to the country's next generation of filmmakers.

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